UCSC professor emeritus ranked among top 100 psychologists of 20th century

Elliot Aronson, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was named one of the most eminent psychologists of the 20th century in a new study published in the Review of General Psychology.

Aronson joins names like B. F. Skinner, who topped the list, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, and Albert Bandura.

With typical self-deprecating humor, Aronson commented, "I only got ranked 78th, but then again, I am among the 22 who are still alive--so I'm grateful for that!"

One of the most distinguished social psychologists of our time, Aronson made major contributions to the field of human behavior, exploring the theory of cognitive dissonance and the causes of interpersonal attraction. His research always addressed important social problems, including prejudice reduction, energy conservation, and AIDS prevention.

The study, reported in the July/August issue, Vol. 6, No. 2, ranked 99 of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, based on the frequency of three variables: journal citation, introductory psychology textbook citation, and survey response. Surveys were sent to 1,725 members of the American Psychological Society, asking them to list the top psychologists of the century. In their ranking, researchers also took into account whether the psychologists were members of the National Academy of Sciences, had been elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA) or received the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and whether their surname was used as an eponym.

Cathaleene Macias, a mental health researcher at McLean Hospital at Harvard University and a former student of Aronson's, credits Aronson with moving psychology "into a new dimension that blends the best of analytical thinking and research rigor with the practical thinking of everyday life."

Aronson applied theory to real-world problems and presented his work in language that was accessible to the public. He challenged psychologists and other social scientists to adopt research designs that allowed theory to be adapted to the specifics of everyday life, she said.

"He taught the rest of us that there is nothing so practical as a theory that's been honed by research and examined by the heart," said Macias.

Aronson joined the UCSC faculty in 1974. He began teaching at Harvard University in 1959 and moved in 1962 to the University of Minnesota. He joined the University of Texas in 1965. His textbook, The Social Animal, remains among the most popular texts in social psychology. Since retiring from UCSC in 1994, Aronson has been affiliated with Stanford University.

The complete list of the top psychologists of the 20th century is reprinted below. Continuing a tradition begun by researcher Eugene Garfield, who compiled a Top 100 list in 1977 and left the No. 100 spot open, researchers deliberately left No. 100 unnamed to leave room for an accomplished individual.

1. B. F. Skinner

2. Jean Piaget

3. Sigmund Freud

4. Albert Bandura

5. Leon Festinger

6. Carl R. Rogers

7. Stanley Schachter

8. Neal E. Miller

9. Edward Thorndike

10. A. H. Maslow

11. Gordon W. Allport

12. Erik H. Erikson

13. Hans J. Eysenck

14. William James

15. David C. McClelland

16. Raymond B. Cattell

17. John B. Watson

18. Kurt Lewin

19. Donald O. Hebb

20. George A. Miller

21. Clark L. Hull

22. Jerome Kagan

23. Carl G. Jung

24. Ivan P. Pavlov

25. Walter Mischel

26. Harry F. Harlow

27. J. P. Guilford

28. Jerome S. Bruner

29. Ernest R. Hilgard

30. Lawrence Kohlberg

31. Martin E. P. Seligman

32. Ulric Neisser

33. Donald T. Campbell

34. Roger Brown

35. R. B. Zajonc

36. Endel Tulving

37. Herbert A. Simon

38. Noam Chomsky

39. Edward E. Jones

40. Charles E. Osgood

41. Solomon E. Asch

42. Gordon H. Bower

43. Harold H. Kelley

44. Roger W. Sperry

45. Edward C. Tolman

46. Stanley Milgram

47. Arthur R. Jensen

48. Lee J. Cronbach

49. John Bowlby

50. Wolfgang Köhler

51. David Wechsler

52. S. S. Stevens

53. Joseph Wolpe

54. D. E. Broadbent

55. Roger N. Shepard

56. Michael I. Posner

57. Theodore M. Newcomb

58. Elizabeth F. Loftus

59. Paul Ekman

60. Robert J. Sternberg

61. Karl S. Lashley

62. Kenneth Spence

63. Morton Deutsch

64. Julian B. Rotter

65. Konrad Lorenz

66. Benton Underwood

67. Alfred Adler

68. Michael Rutter

69. Alexander R. Luria

70. Eleanor E. Maccoby

71. Robert Plomin

72.5.* G. Stanley Hall

72.5. Lewis M. Terman

74.5.* Eleanor J. Gibson

74.5. Paul E. Meehl

76. Leonard Berkowitz

77. William K. Estes

78. Elliot Aronson

79. Irving L. Janis

80. Richard S. Lazarus

81. W. Gary Cannon

82. Allen L. Edwards

83. Lev Semenovich Vygotsky

84. Robert Rosenthal

85. Milton Rokeach

88.5.* John Garcia

88.5. James J. Gibson

88.5. David Rumelhart

88.5. L. L. Thurston

88.5. Margaret Washburn

88.5. Robert Woodworth

93.5.* Edwin G. Boring

93.5. John Dewey

93.5. Amos Tversky

93.5. Wilhelm Wundt

96. Herman A. Witkin

97. Mary D. Ainsworth

98. Orval Hobart Mowrer

99. Anna Freud

*Numbers with .5 indicate a tie in the ranking. In these cases, the mean is listed.