Historical Faculty

The Harvard Department of Psychology (together with the Department of Social Relations, which was folded into it) was home to some of the most eminent psychologists in history, including the founder of the field in the United States, one of the first women in experimental psychology (she invented "paired associate learning"), a Nobel laureate, two icons of the 1960s counterculture, the originators of the terms "identity crisis," and "six degrees of separation," and one of the twentieth century's pioneers in neuroscience. These biographical sketches of historic Harvard were written by Rebecca Sutherland and Steven Pinker.

Historical Faculty

Gordon W. Allport

Gordon W. Allport

(1897-1967)
Personality Trait Theory
Research on Predjudice and Discrimination

Gordon Willard Allport spent nearly his entire academic career at Harvard, completing both his bachelor’s degree and his PhD at the university, and...

Read more about Gordon W. Allport
Edwin G. Boring

Edwin G. Boring

(1886-1968)
First Major Historian of Psychology
Visual Perception Research

Edwin Garrigues “Gary” Boring was an experimental psychologist and a historian of psychology.  He joined the Harvard faculty as an associate...

Read more about Edwin G. Boring
Roger Brown

Roger Brown

(1925-1997)
Pioneer of the Modern Science of Language
Solidarity in Language and Syntheses of Social Psychology

Roger W. Brown was Professor of Social Psychology at Harvard University from 1962 to 1994.  Today Brown is acknowledged as the founder of...

Read more about Roger Brown
Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner

(1915-2016)
Perceptual Organization, Cognition, and Learning Theory
The Role of Narrative in Psychology and Law

“Any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.”
– from The Process of Education...

Read more about Jerome Bruner
Mary Whiton Calkins

Mary Whiton Calkins

(1863-1930)
Paired - Associate Learning Paradigm in Memory Research
First Woman President of the American Psychological Association

Mary Whiton Calkins was ready for an academic career before the patriarchal academic world of the late nineteenth century was ready for her. After earning...

Read more about Mary Whiton Calkins
Raymond Cattell

Raymond Cattell

(1905-1998)
Theory of Personality - 16 Base Traits
Culture - Fair Intelligence Tests

Raymond Cattell was an influential psychologist who developed new analytic techniques that allowed for more nuanced empirical measurements of the...

Read more about Raymond Cattell
Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson

(1902-1994)
Psychosocial Theory of Human Development
Psychobiography

Erik Erikson’s relationship with Harvard spanned decades, coinciding with some of his most influential works.  Born in Frankfurt, and trained in...

Read more about Erik Erikson
Richard J Herrnstein

Richard J Herrnstein

(1930-1994)
The "Matcing Law" of the Allocation of Behavior
Intelligence and Class Stucture in American Society

In 1955, Richard Herrnstein received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard, having worked with both B.F. Skinner and S. S. Stevens. Two years later...

Read more about Richard J Herrnstein
Karl Lashley

Karl Lashley

(1890-1958)
The Representation and Processing in the Mammalian Cebral Cortex

Karl Lashley joined the Harvard faculty in 1935, and in the ensuing twenty years he expanded his research on the representation and localization of...

Read more about Karl Lashley
Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

(1920-1996)
The Effects of Psychotropic Drugs

One of the stranger claims to fame of the Department of Psychology at Harvard is that it was once home to two of the leading figures in the 1960s...

Read more about Timothy Leary
Eleanor Maccoby

Eleanor Maccoby

(1917-2018)
Research in Child Development and Family Dynamics
FIrst Comprehensive Empirical Survey of Gender DIfferences

Although she spent the majority of her academic career as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, Eleanor Maccoby’s...

Read more about Eleanor Maccoby
David McClelland

David McClelland

(1917-1998)
Human Achievement and Motivation Research

An expert in human motivation, David McClelland joined the Harvard faculty in 1956, where he taught and conducted research for 30 years.  He was the...

Read more about David McClelland
Stanley Milgram

Stanley Milgram

(1933-1984)
Obedience to Authority
The Small World Experiment - "Six Degrees of Separation"

In 1954 Harvard’s Department of Social Relations took the unusual step of admitting a bright young student who had not taken a single psychology course....

Read more about Stanley Milgram
George Armitage Miller

George Armitage Miller

(1920-2012)
Father of the Cognitive Revolution
Cognitive Psychology, Psycholinguistics, and Cognitive Neuroscience

“My problem is that I have been persecuted by an integer.” So began perhaps the most famous paper in the history of experimental psychology. The Harvard...

Read more about George Armitage Miller
Hugo Münsterberg

Hugo Münsterberg

(1863-1916)
Pioneer of Applied Psychology in Industrym Law, Medicine and Education

Hugo Münsterberg came to Harvard in 1892 with a doctorate in psychology, earned under the supervision of Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig, and a...

Read more about Hugo Münsterberg
Henry Murray

Henry Murray

(1893-1988)
Personality Research

Henry A. Murray completed his undergraduate studies in history at Harvard in 1915.  More than a decade later, with graduate degrees in medicine and...

Read more about Henry Murray
B. F. Skinner

B. F. Skinner

(1904-1990)
Advocacy of Behaviorism and its Application to Psychology and Life
Operant Conditioning and the Law of Effect

“To say that a reinforcement is contingent upon a response may mean nothing more than that it follows the response. It may follow because of some...

Read more about B. F. Skinner
 S. S. Stevens

S. S. Stevens

(1906-1973)
The Power Law
Psychophysical Scaling and Measurement Theory

In 1934 Stanley Smith Stevens received his Ph.D. from the newly independent psychology department at Harvard, and two years later accepted a position as...

Read more about S. S. Stevens
Georg von Békésy

Georg von Békésy

(1899-1972)
Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory
Nobel Prize lecture (1961) for work in the Department of Psychology

The only Nobel Prize awarded to a scientist for work in the Department of Psychology at Harvard went to a biophysicist who had spent much of his early...

Read more about Georg von Békésy
  •  
  • 1 of 2
  • »