Great Psychologists and Their Times: Scientific Insights Into Psychology's History

Pages: 550
Item #: 431676A
ISBN: 978-1-55798-896-6
List Price: $39.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $29.95
Copyright: 2002
Format: Hardcover
Note: This book is out of print and no longer available for purchase.

Great Psychologists and Their Times is the first comprehensive compilation of research on the factors that contribute to great psychologists' impact on the discipline. The author examines those individuals who have contributed most to the advancement of psychological science from a scientific perspective — especially from the standpoint of psychological science. The book integrates all of the relevant research on the psychology of eminent psychologists, from the pioneering work of Francis Galton to work published in the 21st century.

Chapters are rich in examples drawn from the lives and careers of notable psychologists, examining such issues as birth order, psychopathology, and intellectual precocity. Of particular interest are chapters exploring what aspects of the sociocultural context are most conducive to the emergence of illustrious psychologists and how these sociocultural conditions — including political events, economic disturbances, or cultural values — affect not only the magnitude of achievement but also the very nature of that achievement. The findings reviewed lead to suggestions about how best to educate and train both undergraduate psychology majors and graduate students in psychology.

This book will be a useful resource for all psychologists, scientists, and historians who are willing to ponder the provocative overlap between psychology, science, and history.

Table of Contents


I. The Scientific History of Psychology


  1. Eminence in Psychology
  2. History and Science

II. Lifetime Output of Psychologists and Their Impact on the Field


  1. Individual Differences in Greatness
  2. Longitudinal Changes in Creativity
  3. The Creative Product in Psychology

III. Personal Characteristics That Contribute to Greatness as a Psychologist


  1. Cognition
  2. Disposition
  3. Worldview

IV. Life Span Development of Great Psychologists


  1. Family Background
  2. Career Training
  3. Maturity and Aging
  4. Nature Versus Nurture

V. Sociocultural Context of Psychological Science


  1. Internal Milieu
  2. External Milieu
  3. Genius Versus Zeitgeist

VI. Implications for the Field of Psychology


  1. Research and Teaching


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

Author Bio

Dean Keith Simonton, PhD, is currently a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. He obtained his PhD in social psychology from Harvard University in 1975. His research program is mostly devoted to the application of historiometric methods to the study of genius, creativity, leadership, talent, and aesthetics. He has studied eminent scientists and inventors, philosophers, poets and dramatists, painters and sculptors, classical composers, presidents, monarchs, generals, and other notables drawn from the cultures of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

In these studies he examines such factors as intelligence, precocity, personality, values, motivation, family environment, education, political circumstances, and the broad sociocultural milieu. This research program has been very fruitful, producing approximately 250 publications, including well over 100 articles in the technical journals of psychology, education, sociology, anthropology, political science, the natural sciences, and the humanities.

In addition, Dr. Simonton is the author of eight books, including Genius, Creativity, and Leadership (1984); Scientific Genius (1988); Psychology, Science, and History (1990); Greatness (1994); and Origins of Genius (1999). He has served as editor of the Journal of Creative Behavior; was guest editor of the Leadership Quarterly for a special issue on "Political Leadership"; and has served on the editorial boards of the Creativity Research Journal, Empirical Studies of the Arts, the Leadership Quarterly, Political Psychology, the Review of General Psychology, the Journal of Personality, and the Bulletin of Psychology and the Arts.

He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the APA (Divisions 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 20), the American Psychological Society, the American Association of Applied and Preventative Psychology, and the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics.

His research has earned him the William James Book Award, the George A. Miller Outstanding Article Award, the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychology and the Arts, the Sir Francis Galton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Creativity, the Award for Excellence of the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, and the UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.

Reviews & Awards

Dean Keith Simonton's Great Psychologists and Their Times is a brilliant tour de force that examines the factors that lead to highly successful careers and contributions in scientific psychology. The book considers a wide range of factors, from intellectual and personality traits to cultural and historical factors. The book is required reading for all scientific psychologists who wish their work to have an impact on the field, and I plan to require all of my doctoral and postdoctoral students to read it.
—Robert J. Sternberg, former APA President

This review has been only a sampling of Simonton's well-organized, highly readable, and engrossing presentation of an impressive set of studies, theories, conjectures, and suggestions. The book is best read in moderate portions - in the aggregate, it becomes overwhelming. As readers of Simonton's work have come to expect, it is both scholarly and creative; in many places controversial and provocative (I often thought, "Maybe, but ..."), it is never pedestrian or boring. This is an important book in the history, sociology, and methodology of the fields, and an enjoyable way to answer at least some of our questions about our discipline and our best-known colleagues.
—Peter Suedfeld, in PsycCRITIQUES

Dean Keith Simonton has produced a sweeping and masterful account of the great psychologists who, through their pioneering research, have shaped our understanding of ourselves. Rich in biographical detail and intriguing generalizations, Simonton's analysis of the achievements and genius of these pioneers makes for fascinating reading. In addition, his path-breaking research constitutes an important contribution to psychology itself. For anyone who wants to read just one book about the history of psychology, Great Psychologists and Their Times is an ideal choice.
—Frank J. Sulloway