The history of psychology has been marked by many psychologists who, thanks to their discoveries, have influenced other professionals in this discipline.
Both for his innovative way of thinking and his contributions to psychological science,
these are and remain references in the different fields that psychology covers : clinical psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, etc.
Top 55 sentences on psychology
In today’s article, we have set out to make a list of the best sentences pronounced by the most important psychologists in recent times so that you can enjoy them.
1. I guess it’s tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail, if the only tool you have is a hammer (Abraham Maslow)
Abraham Maslow is considered the father of the psychological current called humanism. He has influenced several theorists, but is possibly remembered for his theory of human needs:
Maslow’s Pyramid. With this phrase, Maslow reminds us that we must have a flexible mentality because, otherwise, we will always make the same mistakes .
2. When I look at the world I am pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic (Carl Rogers)
Another reference from the
humanistic psychology is Carl Rogers, who made great contributions to psychotherapy. With this phrase he reminds us that the world can be a hostile place. So it’s okay, because everyone, including ourselves, has problems . It is something normal and the important thing is to face these situations in a positive way.
3. A mind cannot be understood without culture (Lev Vygotsky)
The Russian psychologist
Lev Vygotsky is one of the great psychologists of learning. Neither the mind nor learning can be understood without culture , because culture has a great influence on our development.
4. The disappearance of the sense of responsibility is the major consequence of submission to authority (Stanley Milgram)
Stanley Milgram contributed significantly to social psychology through his research on obedience to authority and this phrase was expressed in his conclusions, since Milgram considered that the sense of responsibility disappears as a result of submission to authority .
5. You were never taught how to speak with your gestures, but you were taught to speak with words (Paul Ekman)
Paul Ekman reminds us that throughout our learning we have been taught to speak with words and we have been taught to develop verbal language . However, during our development, the educational agents have given little importance to the learning of gestures; to non-verbal communication.
6. If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all (Noam Chomsky)
One of the most important psycholinguists and thinkers of the moment, Noam Chomsky, reminds us that it is easy to respect the opinions of those we like. But
is not the same for people who are not to our liking .
7. The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their mental attitudes (William James)
William James already said it in his day, nowadays we are constantly told that attitude makes the difference in our results . Our attitude makes the difference when it comes to relating to others or fighting for our goals.
8. You are what you do, not what you say you will do (C. G. Jung)
Your actions determine what you are, not your words . This sentence can be interpreted in different contexts. For example, in love relationships, when you promise but don’t deliver; or when you want to achieve something in life, because you may have many ideas, but if you don’t take action, they will stay there, in ideas,
9. Unexpressed emotions never die. They are buried alive and come out later in worse ways (Sigmund Freud)
Emotional intelligence is in vogue, because if we don’t manage our emotions well, our well-being is negatively affected.Sigmund Freud already knew this, and that is why he wanted us to understand that if we do not manage our emotions correctly, they will eventually come out stronger.
10. People who believe they have the power to exercise some degree of control over their lives are healthier, more effective and more successful than those who do not have faith in their ability to make changes in their lives (Albert Bandura)
Albert Bandura is one of the most distinguished psychologists His contributions, for example in terms of learning by observation, have marked a before and after in psychology. With this sentence he makes clear reference to
his theory of self-efficacy, in which he explains that people who believe in themselves are more likely to achieve success in the goals they have set for themselves .
Learn more about this famous Ukrainian-Canadian psychologist and psychopedagogue in our articles:
- Albert Bandura’s Theory of Social Learning
- Albert Bandura’s Personality Theory
- Albert Bandura, winner of the National Medal of Science
11. If an individual is intellectually passive, he will not succeed in being morally free (Jean Piaget)
Piaget was a Swiss-born psychologist, biologist and epistemologist who went down in history for his
constructivist theory of intelligence development. For Piaget, from childhood we are explorers and we build our own mental schemes in the interaction with the world .
12. Never think you know everything. However high you value yourself, always have the courage to say to yourself: I am ignorant (Ivan Pavlov)
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who, after his experiments with dogs,
contributed significantly to the psychological current called behaviorism , specifically to classical conditioning. With his phrase he tells us that we must be humble and continue to learn every day.
We invite you to read our post on classical conditioning at the following link:
- Classical conditioning and its most important experiments
13. All people speak of the mind without hesitation, but are perplexed when asked to define it (B. F. Skinner)
B.F. Skinner wants to tell us with this phrase that the mind is extremely complex. Perhaps that is why he focused only on the observable behaviour in his experiments? Whatever led Skinner to carry out his research with rats, his conclusions have been very useful for both psychology and education .
14. I am what survives of me (Erik Erikson)
This psychoanalyst of German origin reminds us with this phrase that we are what we learn . That is, that what survives in us through experience, makes us what we are. A great theoretician who formulated the Theory of Psychosocial Development.
15. Even when it is not completely attainable, we become better by trying to pursue a higher goal (Viktor Frankl)
To have objectives and goals that are healthy and conducive to a person’s well-being . Not only this, but it is motivating and gives meaning to life.
Do you know who Viktor Frankl is? Take a look at his biography
by clicking here.
16. The message sent is not always the message received (Virgina Satir)
Virginia Satir is one of
the most influential psychologists in history. This sentence expresses an undeniable principle: when we interact with someone, we have to take into account their point of view and not only ours , since the other partner has his or her own vision of the world. Which for us can make a lot of sense, but not for him.
17. Most social acts must be understood in context, as they lose meaning if they are isolated (Solomon Asch)
People are biopsychosocial beings and therefore context is important in influencing how we act . There are psychologists who claim that people are neither good nor bad, it is the situation that makes us good or bad.
18. If a person loves only one person and is indifferent to all others, his love is not love, but symbiotic attachment or extended selfishness (Erich Fromm)
When we’re in love with someone, we’d give our lives for that person. This can make us seem like great people, because we go out of our way to be with that other person. But
even the most selfish people can lose their head for someone and seem like dedicated people . Deep down, all they want is to satisfy their own desires. Great sentence by the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.
19. Targets transform a random walk into a chase (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
Having objectives in life and goals to pursue motivates us and makes the journey exciting.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the great figures of positive psychology and is known for the concept of comfort zone.
20. There is a negative correlation between recovery and psychological therapy: the more psychological therapy, the less the patient recovers (Hans Eysenck)
Hans Eysenck is undoubtedly one of the most important psychologists in the study of personality . Born in Germany but based in the United Kingdom, he carried out a lot of research. For Eysenck, it is not better to do more therapy sessions. What is important is the quality of the sessions and that the patient is willing to change. Get to know Hans Eysenck’s Personality Theory by clicking on this link.
21. Everything worth teaching can be presented in different ways. These multiple ways can make us use our multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner)
Howard Gardner is known for his
Theory of Multiple Intelligences. A theory that suggests that human beings possess different types of intelligence, and not only a unitary intelligence . Therefore, it is crucial that these intelligences be developed through teaching.
22. I am not in this life to meet other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world should meet mine (Fritz Perls)
For Fritz Perls,
an individual should focus on himself and fight for what makes him happy , instead of thinking about what others think of them.
You can read Fritz Perls’ biography
23. A prejudice, unlike a misconception, is actively resistant to all tests that attempt to disprove it (Gordon W. Allport)
Prejudices make us people with little mental flexibility and do not allow us to be realistic , as Gordon W. Allport, a renowned social psychologist, reminds us.
24. If you really want to understand something, try to change it (Kurt Lewin)
Kurt Lewin, a famous
Gestalt psychologist who has influenced many psychology professionals with his theory on types of leadership, reminds us that complicated situations that lead to change are really enriching because they help us learn.
25. Only the liberation of a human being’s natural capacity for love can counteract his sadistic destruction (Wilhelm Reich)
You only have to look around to see how destructive human beings can be. Now then,
the human being can also be a loving and considerate person . The key is in education.
26. Follow your heart but take your brain with you (Alfred Adler)
It’s okay to follow what your heart tells you, because that will make you happy. Now then,
you have to use your head and not get carried away by all that your heart tells you , because it can be wrong.
27. The boundary between good and bad is permeable and anyone can cross it when pressed by the forces of the situation (Anonymous)
It’s very easy to say that someone is a good person when they have everything in this life. But
when the situation is favourable to us, we human beings can be hostile people .
28. What a child can do by cooperating today, he can do only tomorrow (Lev Vygotsky)
In his research, Lev Vygotsky
paid a lot of attention to cooperative learning . This type of learning brings many benefits for the development and learning of the youngest (and also the oldest).
29. When we take time to notice things that are going well for us, it means that we are receiving small prizes throughout the day (Martin Seligman)
We often spend our days ruminating, thinking about the future and all that we can achieve . But if we focus on the present and value what we have and what we have achieved, this will make us feel really good.
30.The real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men think (B. F. Skinner)
Another famous phrase of the B-behaviourist. F. Skinner, who
ironizes about the intelligence of human beings .
31.Hope is paradoxical. To have hope means to be ready at any moment for what is not yet born, but without becoming desperate if the birth does not occur in the span of our life (Erich Fromm)
Erich Fromm highlights here the nature of a virtue that is rare in our time:
32.The word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it is not balanced with sadness (C. G. Jung)
Happiness could not be understood without its opposite, just as there would be no holidays if we did not work . A reflection of the famous Swiss psychoanalyst.
33.Giving produces more happiness than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving is the expression of my vitality (Erich Fromm)
Another humanist reflection by the author of “The Art of Love”.
In kindness and generosity lies the greatness of living , of finding ourselves in the reflection of the happiness of those around us.
34.Intelligence, what we consider intelligent actions, changes throughout history. Intelligence is not a substance in the head like oil in an oil tank. It is a collection of potentialities that are completed (Howard Gardner)
A reflection by the author of the theory of multiple intelligences, in which
shows us his particular vision of human intelligence . Do you agree with the American psychologist’s opinion?
35.The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressed by situational forces (Philip Zimbardo)
Stanford Prison experiment, led by American psychologist Philip Zimbardo, reveals that human beings may be capable of committing cruel acts if the situation prompts them to do so.
36.Psychology is a tricky field, in which even notable authorities have moved in circles, describing things that everyone knows in words that no one understands (Raymond Cattell)
This sentence by Raymond Cattell on Psychology can be a useful reflection to understand psychology.
37. If you are old, don’t try to change yourself, change your environment (B. F. Skinner)
The referent of radical behaviorism speaks here on the basis of his conception of psychology: making the way we interact with the environment change in order to change ourselves . One of the most useful sentences about psychology for understanding operant conditioning.
38. The mission of psychology is to give us a totally different idea about the things we know most about (Paul Valéry)
The essayist and philosopher Paul Valéry believed that the essence of psychology is to compromise ideas of common sense about the way we perceive things and act.
39. Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfactory explanation of our psychology (Steven Pinker)
Pinker, the referent of evolutionary psychology, talks about the role of the evolution of our ancestors in our way of behaving.
40. There is a lot of randomness in the decisions people make (Daniel Kahneman)
Kahneman, one of the researchers who have challenged the idea that human beings are rational by nature, talks about the chaos of our decisions ; even those that apparently obey logic.
41. Follow your heart, but try to always carry your brain with you (Alfred Adler)
A poetic way of insinuating that passions are our engine and reason the watchman of our march.
42. Knowledge is an antidote to fear (Gerd Gigerenzer)
For this researcher and disseminator of psychology, knowledge allows us to be more certain about what we do and what we can expect.
43. Don’t become a simple recorder of facts; try to penetrate the mystery of its origins (Ivan Pavlov)
The Russian physiologist responsible for the creation of behaviorism talks about the spirit of the scientific researcher.
44. Education survives when what has been learned is forgotten (B. F. Skinner)
For Skinner, education is based on behaviours that are deeply engraved in us , beyond the theoretical knowledge that we have been able to memorise.
45. Columnists and sports commentators are rewarded for being arrogant (Daniel Kahneman)
A way of reconstructing the behaviour of two classes of professionals who are apparently not very similar to each other.
46. We have to learn to live with uncertainty (Gerd Gigerenzer)
The uncertainty is one of life’s constants, and that’s why you have to know how to manage it.
47. Creativity is related to our ability to find new answers to old problems (Martin Seligman)
One of the phrases in psychology that addresses the issue of creativity with an imaginative definition.
48. We constantly encounter great opportunities that are brilliantly masked by unsolvable problems (Margaret Mead)
This referent of anthropology shaped in this reflection a way of understanding the double edge of some of the opportunities that are presented to us .
49. People tend to evaluate themselves by comparing themselves with other people, not by using absolute standards (Leon Festinger)
Festinger was one of the most important social psychologists of the twentieth century, and in this way he captured the impact that our perception of others has on psychological processes that are apparently private and concern only one person.
50. If you want to be happy, you must resign yourself to seeing others happy (Bertrand Russell)
A very direct psychological phrase of interpretation.
51. Control the way a man interprets the world and you will have made great strides in controlling his behavior (Stanley Milgram)
A reflection on the importance of perception in our way of acting.
52. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you. Mature love says, “I need you because I love you” (Erich Fromm)
One of the most remembered reflections of this psychoanalyst.
53. What one can become, one must become (Abraham Maslow)
One of the sentences on psychology that best summarizes the humanist philosophy.
54. False optimism sooner or later turns to disappointment, anger, and despair (Abraham Maslow)
An observation about the consequences of the way some people experience what happens to them.
55. Time spent with cats is never wasted (Sigmund Freud)
Finally, one of Sigmund Freud’s nicest phrases.
Have we left out any interesting phrases about this scientific discipline? You can write it down in the comments and we will include it in the article.