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Who are the most influential thinkers in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

About our data on gender

List of the most influential people in Psychology, for the years 2010 – 2020

Martin Seligman
# 1
Martin Seligman

1942 - Present (79 years)

#1200 person's overall influence

Martin Seligman currently holds the title of Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, he taught at Cornell University, and was the president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman earned his bachelor’s in philosophy at Princeton University in 1964, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.

Daniel Kahneman
# 2
Daniel Kahneman

1934 - Present (87 years)

#729 person's overall influence

Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist and economist who is currently the Eugene Higgins Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus for the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He earned a B.S. in psychology from Hebrew University and an M.A. and Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley. Kahneman is world-famous for his groundbreaking work on the psychology of judgement and decision making. His studies, along with Amos Tversky, developed into prospect theory which examines behavioral economics and finance and how huma

Steven Pinker
# 3
Steven Pinker

1954 - Present (67 years)

#183 person's overall influence

Cognitive scientist, linguist, and author, Steven Pinker currently holds the title of Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, Pinker taught at Stanford University at MIT. Pinker earned his bachelor’s in psychology from McGill University in 1976, and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1979 at Harvard.

Jordan Peterson
# 4
Jordan Peterson

1962 - Present (59 years)

#6555 person's overall influence

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, Canada. Peterson became a household name in Canada, the United States, and indeed around the world for his invocation of free speech rights regarding the use of preferred pronouns by students at the University of Toronto. He received his bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Alberta, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from McGill University.

Christopher French
# 5
Christopher French

1956 - Present (65 years)

#9390 person's overall influence

Christopher French is a British psychologist who specializes in the study of the paranormal, referring to events depicted in popular culture and lore that do not have normal or scientific explanations. French is Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, as well as head of the University of London’s Anomalistic psychology research unit.

Noam Chomsky
# 6
Noam Chomsky

1928 - Present (93 years)

#40 person's overall influence

Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor. Chomsky completed his university studies between the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.

Jonathan Haidt
# 7
Jonathan Haidt

1963 - Present (58 years)

#6035 person's overall influence

Jonathan David Haidt currently holds the title of Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University. Previously, Haidt has held positions at Princeton University, and the University of Virginia. Additionally Haidt is the co-founder of the non-profit group Heterodox Academy. In 1985, Haidt earned his BA in philosophy from Yale University, and completed his Ph.D. in psychology in 1992 at the University of Pennsylvania.

James Alcock
# 8
James Alcock

1942 - Present (79 years)

#7276 person's overall influence

James Alcock is a skeptic, a Canadian educator, and Professor of Psychology at York University in Canada. Alcock is most known for his critical stance towards parapsychology, the study of psychic phenomena like extrasensory perception (telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and psychometry), as well as other purported unexplained reports like near death experiences. Alcock received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics at McGill University, and his Ph.D. at McMaster University.

# 9
Nirbhay N. Singh
#58959 person's overall influence

Nirbhay N. Singh is a psychologist who has been a professor at many universities and has served as editor-in-chief of several psychology journals, and founding editor of multiple journals that include Mindfulness. Singh received graduate education in New Zealand and has held academic posts in the United States.

Susan Fiske
# 10
Susan Fiske

1952 - Present (69 years)

#9052 person's overall influence

Susan Tufts Fiske currently holds the position of Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Fiske has previously held positions at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Harvard University. Fiske completed her undergraduate studies and Ph.D. at Harvard in 1978.

Girishwar Misra
# 11
Girishwar Misra

1951 - Present (70 years)

#45596 person's overall influence

Girishwar Misra is one of the leaders in the emerging field of Indian psychology, where he serves currently as Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, India. Prior to his role as Vice Chancellor, Misra was a Fulbright Fellow at Swarthmore College and at the University of Michigan. He received his MA and Ph.D. in Psychology in Gorakhpur University in India.

Daniel Dennett
# 12
Daniel Dennett

1942 - Present (79 years)

#171 person's overall influence

Currently appointed as the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University (and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies) Daniel Dennett is a philosopher concerned with questions of the mind and cognitive science, and is colloquially known as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism.” As an undergraduate, Dennett studied at Wesleyan University and Harvard University before earning his PhD in philosophy at Oxford University in 1965.

Aaron T. Beck
# 13
Aaron T. Beck

1921 - Present (100 years)

#11245 person's overall influence

Aaron Temkin Beck is an American psychiatrist who is professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is regarded as the father of both cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. His pioneering theories are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression and various anxiety disorders. Beck also developed self-report measures of depression and anxiety, notably the Beck Depression Inventory which became one of the most widely used instruments for measuring depression severity. In 1994, he and his daughter, psychologist Judith S. Beck, founde

# 14
Koneru Ramakrishna Rao

1932 - Present (89 years)

#53908 person's overall influence

Koneru Ramakrishna Rao is a philosopher, psychologist, parapsychologist, educationist, teacher, researcher and administrator. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2011.

John O'Keefe
# 15
John O'Keefe

2008 - Present (13 years)

#10589 person's overall influence

John O'Keefe, is an American-British neuroscientist, psychologist and a professor at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour and the Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at University College London. He discovered place cells in the hippocampus, and that they show a specific kind of temporal coding in the form of theta phase precession. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014, together with May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser; he has received several other awards. He has worked at the University College London for his entire career, b...

David Chalmers
# 16
David Chalmers

1966 - Present (55 years)

#1702 person's overall influence

David Chalmers serves currently as Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University, as well as University Professor, Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science, and co-Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness (with philosopher Ned Block) at New York University. One of the world’s most influential philosophers on the problem of consciousness, Chalmers has a degree in pure mathematics from the University of Adelaide in Australia, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science from Indiana University Bloomingt...

Rodney L. Lowman
# 17
Rodney L. Lowman

1949 - Present (72 years)

#63342 person's overall influence

Rodney L. Lowman is president of Lowman & Richardson, a consulting psychology service in San Diego, California, as well as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Alliant International University. Lowman first earned his BS in business in 1969 at Oklahoma State University before earning a BA in psychology at the University of Oklahoma in 1973. He then earned an MA and PhD in industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Michigan in 1979.

Roy Baumeister
# 18
Roy Baumeister

1953 - Present (68 years)

#10116 person's overall influence

Roy Baumeister currently holds the title of Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. He previously has held professorial roles at Florida State University and Case Western Reserve University. Baumeister earned his BA at Princeton University and his MA from Duke University, before returning to Princeton for his Ph.D.

Tomasz Witkowski
# 19
Tomasz Witkowski

1963 - Present (58 years)

#103073 person's overall influence

Tomasz Witkowski is a Polish psychologist, skeptic and science writer. He is known for his unconventional campaigns against pseudoscience. He specializes in debunking pseudoscience, particularly in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, and diagnostics. Witkowski also engages in debates on pseudoscience-related topics, emphasizing scientific skepticism.

# 20
Diederik A. Stapel

1966 - Present (55 years)

#58690 person's overall influence

Diederik Alexander Stapel is a Dutch former professor of social psychology at Tilburg University. In 2011 Tilburg University suspended Stapel for fabricating and manipulating data for his research publications. This scientific misconduct took place over a number of years and affected dozens of his publications. , Stapel has had 58 of these publications retracted.

Richard Wiseman
# 21
Richard Wiseman

1966 - Present (55 years)

#6282 person's overall influence

Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Wiseman is known for his insightful and often humorous commentary on human psychology, and his books have been translated into over 30 languages. He is also (along with Chris French and James Alcock) a critic of parapsychology, which he counts as pseudoscience. He received a degree in Psychology from University College London and later received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Barbara Fredrickson
# 22
Barbara Fredrickson

1964 - Present (57 years)

#22394 person's overall influence

Barbara Fredrickson currently holds the title of Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is the director of the social psychology program. Additionally, she is on the faculty of the Authentic Happiness program at the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory, and President of the International Positive Psychology Association. Previously, she held positions at Duke University and the University of Michigan. Fredrickson completed her undergraduate studies at Carleton

# 23
Clayton Alderfer

1940 - 2015 (75 years)

#73619 person's overall influence

Clayton Paul Alderfer was an American psychologist and consultant known for further developing Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Daniel Gilbert
# 24
Daniel Gilbert

1957 - Present (64 years)

#12917 person's overall influence

Daniel Todd Gilbert currently holds the title of Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, Gilbert worked at the University of Texas at Austin. Gilbert completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado Denver, and earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1985.

Gary Marcus
# 25
Gary Marcus

1970 - Present (51 years)

#4605 person's overall influence

Gary F. Marcus is an American scientist, author, and entrepreneur who is a professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University and was founder and CEO of Geometric Intelligence, a machine learning company later acquired by Uber.

James C. Kaufman
# 26
James C. Kaufman

1974 - Present (47 years)

#28739 person's overall influence

James C. Kaufman is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, and previously worked at California State University, San Bernardino. Kaufman completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, and earned his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Yale University.

Ed Diener
# 27
Ed Diener

1946 - Present (75 years)

#16883 person's overall influence

Currently, Ed Diener is everywhere, holding professor of psychology spots at the University of Utah and the University of Virginia, as well as being a senior scientist at the Gallup Organization. On top of that, he holds the title of Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois. Diener earned his BA in psychology from California State University at Fresno in 1968, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1974. Though he retired from teaching in 2008, Diener came back to the game in 2015.

Jerome Bruner
# 28
Jerome Bruner

1915 - 2016 (101 years)

#1893 person's overall influence

Jerome Seymour Bruner was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. He taught and did research at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Albert Bandura
# 29
Albert Bandura

1925 - Present (96 years)

#2289 person's overall influence

Albert Bandura currently holds the title of David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University. A top name in social psychology, Bandura was born in Mundare, Alberta, Canada, and earned his bachelor of arts at the University of British Columbia in 1949. He soon moved to the U.S. and earned his MA in 1951 and PhD in 1952 at the University of Iowa. Bandura began teaching at Stanford in 1953.

Philip Zimbardo
# 30
Philip Zimbardo

1933 - Present (88 years)

#5227 person's overall influence

Philip Zimbardo holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, and previously taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Yale University. In 1954, Zimbardo earned his BA in psychology, sociology, and anthropology from Brooklyn College, and completed his MS and Ph.D. in psychology at Yale University in 1959.

Stanislav Grof
# 31
Stanislav Grof

1931 - Present (90 years)

#2869 person's overall influence

Stanislav "Stan" Grof is a Czech psychiatrist, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a researcher into the use of non-ordinary states of consciousness for purposes of exploring, healing, and obtaining growth and insights into the human psyche. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Václav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.

# 32
Edgar Schein

1928 - Present (93 years)

#20344 person's overall influence

Edgar Henry Schein , a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has made a notable mark on the field of organizational development in many areas, including career development, group process consultation, and organizational culture. He is the son of former University of Chicago professor Marcel Schein.

Daryl Bem
# 33
Daryl Bem

1938 - Present (83 years)

#8955 person's overall influence

Daryl Bem holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Cornell University. Previously, Bem has held professorial roles at Stanford University, Harvard University, and Carnegie Mellon University. Bem was initially a student of physics, and earned his BA in the field at Reed College. Bem soon went to MIT, but decided to change his career path to psychology after becoming inspired by the Civil Rights Movement.

# 34
Harry Levinson

1922 - 2012 (90 years)

#114608 person's overall influence

Harry Levinson was an American psychologist and consultant in work and organizational issues. He was a pioneer in the application of psychoanalytic theory to management and leadership. He linked the failure of managers to effectively contain the anxieties of workers to employee depression and low productivity.

# 35
Marion Woodman

1928 - 2018 (90 years)

#20104 person's overall influence

Marion Jean Woodman was a Canadian mythopoetic author, poet, analytical psychologist and women's movement figure. She wrote and spoke extensively about the dream theories of Carl Jung.

Elizabeth Loftus
# 36
Elizabeth Loftus

1944 - Present (77 years)

#19891 person's overall influence

Elizabeth Fishman Loftus is currently a Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology, at the University of California Irvine, as well as a professor of law, a professor of cognitive science, and the director of The Center for Psychology and Law. Previously, Loftus held positions at the University of Washington, New York University, and Harvard University. Loftus completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California Los Angeles in 1966, and earned her MA and Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1970.

# 37
Jorge Ferrer

1968 - Present (53 years)

#4463 person's overall influence

Jorge N. Ferrer is a US-based Spanish psychologist and participatory thinker, best known for his work bridging participatory theory with transpersonal psychology, religious studies, integral education, and sexuality and intimate relationships. Ferrer is a professor of psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies , San Francisco, where he served as chair of the department of East-West Psychology.

Jean Decety
# 38
Jean Decety

1960 - Present (61 years)

#22277 person's overall influence

Jean Decety is an American and French neuroscientist who is currently the Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. His area of specialty is in cognitive neuroscience and psychology, including social, affective, and developmental neuroscience. Decety received three advanced degrees in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and biomedical engineering from Université Claude Bernard in France. He also received his Ph.D. from Bernard.

Paul Bloom
# 39
Paul Bloom

1963 - Present (58 years)

#6164 person's overall influence

Paul Bloom currently holds the title of Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. A native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Paul Bloom earned his BA in psychology at McGill University in 1985. He then completed his PhD in cognitive psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1990. Prior to his role at Yale, Bloom taught at the University of Arizona.

# 40
Christopher Peterson

1950 - 2012 (62 years)

#26263 person's overall influence

Christopher Peterson was the Arthur F. Thurnau professor of psychology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the former chair of the clinical psychology area. He was science director of the VIA Institute on Character, and co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues for the classification of character strengths. He was a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee and the International Positive Psychology Association board of directors, a senior fellow at the Positive Psychology Center and a lecturer for the Master of Applied Positive Psy

# 41
John Tooby

1952 - Present (69 years)

#2626 person's overall influence

John Tooby is an American anthropologist, who, together with psychologist wife Leda Cosmides, helped pioneer the field of evolutionary psychology. Tooby received his PhD in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University in 1989 and is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Robert Sternberg
# 42
Robert Sternberg

1949 - Present (72 years)

#1784 person's overall influence

Robert Sternberg currently holds the title of Professor of Human Development at Cornell University. Previously, he has held professorial and administrative roles at the University of Wyoming, Oklahoma State University, Tufts University, and Yale University. Additionally, Sternberg is a former president of the American Psychological Association. Sternberg earned his BA in psychology at Yale, and his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1975.

May-Britt Moser
# 43
May-Britt Moser

1963 - Present (58 years)

#8180 person's overall influence

May-Britt Moser is a Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist, who is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology . She and her then-husband, Edvard Moser, shared half of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded for work concerning the grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, as well as several additional space-representing cell types in the same circuit that make up the positioning system in the brain. Together with Edvard Moser she established the Moser research environment at NTNU, which they lead. Since 2012 she heads the Ce...

# 44
Barry Zimmerman

1942 - Present (79 years)

#249562 person's overall influence

Barry J. Zimmerman is an educational researcher at the City University of New York, where he holds the title Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology. He has written scholarly publications on learning and motivation, many describing his research and theories on self-regulated learning. In 2011, Zimmerman was awarded the E.L. Thorndike Career Achievement award by the American Psychological Association's Division of Educational Psychology.

Steven C. Hayes
# 45
Steven C. Hayes

1948 - Present (73 years)

#33125 person's overall influence

Steven C. Hayes currently holds the title of Nevada Foundation Professor at the University of Nevada. Additionally, Hayes has held President positions at a variety of organizations, including a chapter of the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Hayes completed his undergraduate studies at Loyola Marymount University, and his MA and Ph.D. at West Virginia University in 1977.

Rupert Sheldrake
# 46
Rupert Sheldrake

1942 - Present (79 years)

#6097 person's overall influence

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author, and researcher in the field of parapsychology, who proposed the concept of morphic resonance, a conjecture which lacks mainstream acceptance and has been characterised as pseudoscience. He worked as a biochemist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973 and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India until 1978.

# 47
Leda Cosmides

1957 - Present (64 years)

#2763 person's overall influence

Leda Cosmides currently holds the title of Distinguished Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. She also co-founded and co-directs the UCSB Center for Evolutionary Psychology. Cosmides completed both her undergraduate studies in biology and her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Harvard University by 1985.

Edvard Moser
# 48
Edvard Moser

1962 - Present (59 years)

#8490 person's overall influence

Edvard Ingjald Moser is a Norwegian professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. In 2005, he and May-Britt Moser discovered grid cells in the brain's medial entorhinal cortex. Grid cells are specialized neurons that provide the brain with a coordinate system and a metric for space. In 2018 he discovered a neural network that expresses your sense of time in experiences and memories located in the brain's lateral entorhinal cortex. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicin

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
# 49
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

1934 - Present (87 years)

#2423 person's overall influence

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Hungarian-American Psychologist who is currently the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. Before Claremont, Csikszentmihalyi was Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago as well as the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lake Forest College. Csikszentmihalyi coined the now well-known term “flow,” referring to the intense state of focus humans achieve when actively engaged in interesting tasks. Mihaly received his B.A. and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago before becoming a p...

# 50
Walter Mischel

1930 - 2018 (88 years)

#30866 person's overall influence

Walter Mischel was an Austrian-born American psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology. He was the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Mischel as the 25th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.