Influential Works and Authors in Psychology

Influential Works and Authors in Psychology: A Survey of

Eminent Psychologists Ronald G. Heyduk Hartwick College

Allan Fenigstein Kenyan College

What works have stimulated the most eminent figures in psychology? To an- swer that question, letters were sent to 92 renowned psychologists asking them to: identify those psychology or psychology-re- lated works which have had a significant influence on your own work as a psychol- ogist. . . . Others have developed lists of significant readings in psychology by sur- veying graduate faculties for their recom- mendations to graduate students (e.g., Solso, 1979). Although the books appearing on such lists distinguish themselves as sum- maries of creative work, they are probably not responsible for generating creative work. We wish to discover those readings which have stimulated or are stimulating the most eminent scholars in the field.

We also sought to introduce a novel and perhaps more valid criterion for establishing the value of an indi- vidual’s contribution to the discipline of psychology. Previous approaches to developing lists of important psychol- ogists have been based on citation fre- quency counts (e.g., Endler, Rushton, & Roediger, 1978; Garfield, 1978— both of which were used to determine our sample). But these citation-based methods may place too great an em- phasis on sheer productivity, without offering any indication that the cited reference had a significant influence on the work presented. Scientific con- tributions have historically been judged in terms of their heuristic value, that is, the degree to which they have in- spired or affected significant subse- quent developments. Thus, we felt that a more valid indicator of a psycholo- gist’s impact upon the field would be the frequency with which his or her contributions were recognized by other outstanding psychologists as having stimulated their own work.

The psychologists surveyed were the 92 living psychologists named on the Endler et al. (1978) list of 102 most- cited psychologists. The Endler list was based upon a citation tally from the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) for a single year (1975). As a means of validating the Endler list, it was com- pared to a list based upon a more ex-

tensive citation tally spanning the 1969 to 1977 volumes of the SSCI (Garfield, 1978). All of the 55 most-cited psy- chologists on the Garfield list appeared on the Endler list, suggesting that se- rious errors of omission in our selection of most-cited psychologists were un- likely.

Each of the 92 surveyees was mailed a letter that first described the intent of the survey and then made a specific request:

to list, in whatever order they occur to you, only those texts or articles (up to a maxi- mum of 10) which have significantly influ- enced your work and thought, both past and present, in your major area of psy- chology. Comments regarding the works you list (e.g., how the work influenced or is in- fluencing you) would be valuable, although they are optional.

Two surveyees reported that they had been inappropriately included on the Endler list. Of the remaining 90 surveyed, 28 did not reply, 5 sent letters declining to participate, and 57 (63%) provided usable responses. Although we achieved an unexpectedly favorable response rate,’ there are several ways in which our surveyees are unrepre- sentative of contemporary eminent psychologists. As Endler et al. (1978) noted, an SSCI-based list is inherently biased against physiological psychol- ogists because some of their publication outlets are not covered by SSCI. Also, our citation-based sample is skewed toward long-established contributors and away from “rising stars,” because more recent contributors have not had as much opportunity to be cited. This may help to explain why only 34 books and articles with a publication date of 1970 or later were cited by our sur- veyees. Thus, it may be argued that our data are only representative of those persons who responded to our inquiry, and as a result, there may be serious errors of omission in our list- ings. But it is unlikely that the re- sponses of 57 of the most eminent psy- chologists in the world would produce any serious errors of commission—we can be confident that those works and authors who appear on our list of sources in psychology richly deserve to be labeled “influential.”

Based upon their major field des-

1 In order to maintain the desired pri- vacy of some of the surveyees, names of the respondents have not been included.

ignation in the Membership Directory of the American Psychological Asso- ciation (APA, 1981), respondents were assigned to one of four fields of spe- cialization: 19 were experimental psy- chologists; 13 were from the person- ality/clinical psychology area; 9 were in developmental/educational psy- chology; and 16 were social psychol- ogists. Two of the 57 respondents, both experimental psychologists, were women.

Influential Works and Authors

The respondents provided a total of 457 citations, 438 of which included a specific work along with the author. There were no self-citations. The av- erage number of citations was 8.0 per respondent, and the range was 2 to 15. There were 330 different books and articles listed, of which only 65 were cited as influential by more than one respondent.

A total of 275 different authors were named by our respondents, and only 76 of them were named by more than one respondent. The authors whose names appeared most often on respondents’ lists, along with the au- thors’ most frequently cited works, are shown in Table 1. Foremost among those names was Freud. Not only was he the psychologist cited by the most respondents overall, but he was also the most frequently named person in the personality/clinical and develop- mental/educational areas, and the sec- ond most frequently cited influence among social psychologists. Even for experimental psychologists, he was one of the authors cited most often. Only five others—Lewin, Skinner, Allport, Guilford, and Koffka—were named by at least one respondent from each of the four areas of specialization (see Ta- ble 1).

The lists of commonly cited in- fluential works and authors should not obscure the findings that more than 85% of all the cited works were cited only once, and over 72% of all the named authors were named only once. Only a small number of persons or works in psychology appear to have had a significant impact upon even as few as two of our sample of eminent psy- chologists. Although an interpretation is made difficult by the lack of com- parative statistics for other samples of psychologists or other disciplines, the great diversity of sources of influence uncovered here suggests that the path-

556 May 1984 • American Psychologist

Table 1 The Authors Most Frequently Named as Influential and Their Most Frequently Cited Work(s)

Person •Number of ‘Number of

respondents naming separate citations Work(s) most frequently cited

(number of citations in parentheses)

Freud

Lewin

“Hull

(4,6,3,5)18 (6,8,3,7)24

(1,1,2,6)10 (2,1,2,7)12

(4,5,0,1)10 (6,5,0,1)12

Skinner

“Woodworth

Hebb

“Dollard

Allport

Guilford

“Thurstone

Miller, N.

Stevens bJames

“Koffka

“Pavlov

“Spearman

“Tolman

Broadbent

“Adorno ef a/.

“Kohler

“Bush and Mosteller

“Shannon and Weaver

Piaget

Festinger

“McDougall

Asch

“Boring

Cronbach

(3, 3, 1 , 2) 9

(4, 2, 0, 3) 9

(5, 0, 1, 1)7

(1 , 3, 0, 2) 6

(1, 2, 1, 2)6

(1 , 2, 1 , 2) 6

(0, 4, 2, 0) 6

(1, 3,0, 1)5

(4, 0, 0, 1) 5

(3, 1, 0, 1) 5

(2, 1, 1, 1)5

(3, 2, 0, 0) 5

(0, 4, 1, 0)5

(2, 0, 2, 1)5

(4, 0, 0, 0) 4

(0, 1 , 0, 3) 4

(2,0, 1, 1)4

(2, 0, 0, 2) 4

(2, 0, 2, 0) 4

(0, 0, 2, 1) 3

(0, 0, 0, 3) 3

(1,2,0,0)3

(0, 0, 0, 3) 3

(2, 0, 0, 1) 3

(1, 1, 0, 1)3

(5, 3, 1, 2) 11

(5, 2, 0, 3) 10

(5, 0, 1, 1)7

(1 , 6, 0, 2) 9

(1, 2, 1,2)6

(1 , 2, 1 , 2) 6

(0, 4, 2, 0) 6

(1, 5,0, 1)7

(6, 0, 0, 1) 7

(3, 1,0, 1)5

(2, 1, 1, 1)5

(3, 2, 0, 0) 5

(0, 4, 1 , 0) 5

(2, 0, 2, 1)5

(5, 0, 0, 0) 5

(0, 1, 0, 3)4

(2, 0, 1, 1)4

(2, 0, 0, 2) 4

(2, 0, 2, 0) 4

(0, 0, 2, 3) 5

(0, 0, 0, 5) 5

(1, 3, 0, 0)4

(0, 0, 0, 3) 3

(2, 0, 0, 1) 3

(1, 1, 0, 1)3

“Heider

Hilgard

(0, 0, 0, 3) 3

(3, 0, 0, 0) 3

(0, 0, 0, 3) 3

(3, 0, 0, 0) 3

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, 1901 (6); ‘A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, 1924 (5); cThe Interpretation of Dreams, 1900 (4); introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1917 (3)

‘A Dynamic Theory of Personality, 1935 (3); ‘Resolving Social Conflicts (Ed.), 1948 (2); “Principles of Topological Psychology, 1936 (2); c”The Conceptual Representation and Measure-

ment of Psychological Forces,” 1938 (2)

Principles of Behavior, 1943 (7); °”A Functional Interpretation of the Conditioned

Reflex,” 1929 (2); “‘The Goal Gradient Hypothesis and Maze Learning,”

1932(2)

The Behavior of Organisms, 1938 (4); ‘Science and Human Behavior, 1953 (4)

Experimental Psychology, 1938 (and later eds, with Schlosberg) (8)

The Organization of Behavior, 1948 (7)

Personality and Psychotherapy, (with Miller) 1950 (3); cCasfe and Class in a Southern Town, 1937 (2); ‘Frustration and Aggression, (with others) 1939 (2)

Personality, 1937 (4)

Psychometric Methods, 1936 (4)

“Vectors of Mind, 1935 (2); ‘Multiple Factor Analysis, 1947(2)

“Social Learning and Imitation, (with Dollard) 1941 (2)

Handbook of Experimental Psychology (Ed.), 1951 (3)

The Principles of Psychology, 1890 (5)

‘Principles of Gestalt Psychology, 1935 (4)

‘Conditioned Reflexes, 1927 (3)

The Abilities of Man, 1927 (4)

‘Purposive Behavior in Animals and Man, 1932 (3)

‘Perception and Communication, 1958 (3)

The Authoritarian Personality, (with others) 1950 (4)

The Mentality of Apes, 1927 (2)

‘Stochastic Models for Learning, 1955 (3)

‘A Mathematical Theory of Communication, 1948 (4)

The Language and Thought of the Child, 1955 (2)

A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, 1957 (2)

‘Outline of Psychology, 1923 (3)

‘Social Psychology, 1952 (2)

The History of Experimental Psychology, 1942 (3)

°”The Two Disciplines of Scientific Psychology,” 1957(2)

The Psychology of Interpersonal…