Psychology is met everywhere in the modern society - relationships, politics, marketing, business, education and entertainment. One way or another, psychology affects everyone's life and knowledge in this field can be crucial for one's success, healthy relationships and happiness.
To get the basic knowledge in psychology that would be relevant to your life right now, there is no need to study the works of so many famous psychologists from the past like Sigmund Freud or B. F. Skinner. Instead, you can learn about the work of modern psychologists who already apply their findings to the situations that might be relevant to you immediately. Here is our list of top 10 most eminent psychologists working today.
1. Martin E. P. Seligman
Martin Seligman is one of the founders of Positive Psychology - the study of happiness, flourishing and what makes life worth living. Seligman points to five factors as leading to well-being — positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and purpose, and accomplishment.
One of the most famous theories developed by Martin Seligman is the theory of learned helplessness. According to this theory, people and animals, who have been conditioned to believe that they do not have control over the situation, will behave in a helpless manner. Think about that for a moment... Do you always feel in control over a situation? What if you felt empowered to change things more often? Would you behave differently?
2. Paul Ekman
Paul Ekman is famous for studying emotions. If you saw the TV series Lie To Me, then you are familiar with Ekman's findings. The psychologists studies emotions and facial expressions and is known for the ability to detect lies.
The skill of being able to determine other people's emotions is very useful in business and other types of relationships. Just imagine if you could detect if others are lying.
3. Robert Sternberg
Robert Sternberg is one of the most eminent psychologists in the world today. He is known for his Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. According to this theory, a person can possess three distinct types of intelligence: practical, creative and analytical intelligence.
This theory has cast doubt on multiple standardised tests and brought attention to exceptional intelligence - gifted and retardation.
4. Richard Wiseman
Wiseman is a researcher of the principles of good and bad luck, the author of the best-selling self-help book The Luck Factor. Wiseman has found that both good and bad luck result from measurable habits; for example, lucky people, by expecting good luck, might expend more effort in their endeavours, resulting in more success, reinforcing their belief in good luck. Lucky people are outgoing and observant and therefore have many more chance encounters than unlucky people, each of which could bring a lucky opportunity. Moreover, lucky people are more likely to look on the bright side of 'bad' encounters. In a mental exercise describing being shot during a bank robbery, lucky people considered themselves lucky not to have been killed while unlucky people considered themselves unlucky to have been shot.
This is a great opportunity to contemplate about your own thinking habits - do you consider yourself lucky?
5. Elizabeth Loftus
Elizabeth Loftus is a renowned American psychologist who specialises in understanding memory. More importantly, she focused her research and theories on the controversial idea that memories are not always accurate and the notion that repressed memories can be false memories created by the brain. As well as her work inside the laboratory, Loftus has been involved in applying her research to legal settings; she has consulted or provided expert witness testimony for hundreds of cases.
Are you sure your memories are always real and have not been constructed by the brain?
6. Barbara Fredrikson
Fredrickson is a social psychologist who conducts research in emotions and positive psychology. Her main work is related to her broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, which suggests that positive emotions lead to novel, expansive, or exploratory behaviour, and that, over time, these actions lead to meaningful, long-term resources such as knowledge and social relationships.
How about having a more positive outlook on life?
7. Daniel Kahneman
A true star of psychology, Daniel Kahneman is known for his studies of judging and decision-making for which he won a Noble prize. His central message could not be more important, namely, that human reason left to its own devices is apt to engage in a number of fallacies and systematic errors, so if we want to make better decisions in our personal lives and as a society, we ought to be aware of these biases and seek workarounds. That's a powerful and important discovery.
Daniel Kahneman has written a number of best-selling books which can help you to start living more rationally and avoid the fallacies Kahneman talks about.
8. Robert Cialdini
Another star of modern psychology is Robert Cialdini. He is best known for his 1984 book on persuasion and marketing Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It was based on three "undercover" years applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organisations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. He found that influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity. In 2016 he proposed a seventh principle. He called it the unity principle. The more we identify ourselves with others, the more we are influenced by these others.
Read the book by Robert Cialdini to get some valuable insights about the influence and how it works on you.
9. Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura is an influential social cognitive psychologist who is perhaps best known for his social learning theory, the concept of self-efficacy, and his famous Bobo doll experiments. He is a Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and is widely regarded as one of the greatest living psychologists.
Social learning theory states that there are three regulatory systems that control behaviour. First, the antecedent inducements greatly influence the time and response of behaviour. The stimulus that occurs before the behavioural response must be appropriate in relationship to social context and performers. Second, response feedback influences also serve an important function. Following a response, the reinforcements, by experience or observation, will greatly impact the occurrence of the behaviour in the future. Third, the importance of cognitive functions in social learning. For example, for aggressive behaviour to occur some people become easily angered by the sight or thought of individuals with whom they have had hostile encounters, and this memory is acquired through the learning process.
10. David Buss
David Buss is a professor of psychology at University of Texas, Austin. He is known for his evolutionary psychology research on mate selection with the basis on human sex differences. His profound works on human mating strategies defines and distinct his works in the field of psychology.