Top 5 Famous Psychologists and Their Work

Hi Chaps and Chapettes,

Today we shall be looking at 5 famous psychologists and their work.

5. Polish psychologist Solomon Asch was most well known for his conformity experiments. In his experiment 123 male participants were individually put into a group of 5 to 7 “confederates” (people who know the real aim of the experiment). The group were given numerous multiple choice questions with obvious answers. Some questions were answered correctly by the confederates and some incorrectly. The aim of the experiment was to see if the actual participant would follow the majorities lead or if they would answer the question correctly. Asch found that the majority answered the same as the group even if they knew the answer was wrong. Asch also found that a person was more likely to conform if a group of three or higher confederates were in the participants group as opposed to one other person.


4. Phillip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971. Zimbardo took 24 predominantly white, middle class college students who were to play either a prisoner or a guard (9 of each with 3 alternates) over what was to be a 7-14 day period. The experiment went a little too well. The guards subjected the prisoners to psychological abuse and cruel punishments. The experiment was only ended after 6 days due to concerns of prisoner welfare. The conclusions of the experiment changed the ways both civilian and military prisons throughout the western world are run and has helped explain atrocities such as Abu Ghraib.


3. Pavlovian/Classical Conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov who noticed that dogs would salivate before their meals were delivered. In his experiment he would ring a bell before the food was delivered and after a while noticed that the dogs would begin salivating when the bell was rung even if there was no food being delivered. Pavlovian conditioning is now the best understood method of basic learning and is widely used in the treatment of phobias (patient faces a fear and is rewarded until the reward is no longer required)


2. Stanley Milgram’s ‘Behavioural Study of Obedience’ measured the willingness of a participant to follow the orders of an authoritative figure. The participants were to ask an actor a question. If the actor got the question wrong the participant would deliver an electric shock. Each time the actor got the question wrong the participant would increase the voltage of the electric shock which could go up to 450v, more than enough to kill the person on the other end! Milgram found that 26 of the 40 participants were willing to administer up to 450v to the person. This was a controversial experiment but has helped to explain war time atrocities such as The Holocaust and The Armenian Genocide.


1. Sigmund Freud was the founding father of psychoanalysis, a talking treatment between patient and analyst which would help discover the patients underlying issues so the patient could deal with them. Whilst Freud’s analytical theories often revert back to sexuality and the desire for a ‘non platonic’ relationship between parent and child of different gender, which I and many others find a little strange. His work and influence in psychiatry cannot be disputed and remains important to this day.


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Speak to you all very soon!


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