Psychologists were put to a popularity contest in a new study that appears in the Review of General Psychology (Vol. 6, No. 2), which ranks 99 of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century.

B.F. Skinner topped the list, followed by Jean Piaget, Sigmund Freud and Albert Bandura.

The rankings were based on the frequency of three variables: journal citation, introductory psychology textbook citation and survey response. Surveys were sent to 1,725 members of the American Psychological Society, asking them to list the top psychologists of the century.

Researchers also took into account whether the psychologists had a National Academy of Sciences membership, were elected as APA president or received the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and whether their surname was used as an eponym.

"I was not surprised by most of the names who made it toward the top of the list," says lead researcher Steven J. Haggbloom, PhD, psychology department chair at Western Kentucky University. "But there are some notable names not on the list."

For example, psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, the first to experiment with human learning and memory, didn't make it.

Omissions like that are why researchers followed the idea of researcher Eugene Garfield, who did a Top 100 list in 1977 but left off No. 100. So, No. 100 might be the many great psychologists that someone could make a compelling case to include, Haggbloom says.


Further Reading

For links to individual Top 100 lists of psychologists cited most frequently in introductory psychology textbooks, professional journals, and named most frequently in the survey, visit http://edtech.tph.wku.edu/~shaggblo/tcl.htm.