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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index P > Category: Psychologist

Psychologist Quotes (23 quotes)

Every good psychologist must be wise as well as technically efficient. It is rather a lame statement because I don’t know how anybody can learn to be wise. Perhaps a way of putting it is to say that he must know where and how to look for evidence, which will enable him to advance beyond evidence and then to return once more to seek confirming evidence.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. End of point 3 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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He [a good psychologist] must be able to give and to take incisive criticism without losing his respect either for himself or for the people and the views that he may try to upset. He has to be tolerant, but not indecisive, to be ruthless, but not unfair, to be honest about his assumptions as he is about his evidence, to ask questions when he doesn’t know and to hazard answers when he is convinced that he does, to give credit where credit is due and not to be too much worried if it seems to him that others do not always return the compliment.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. End of point 7 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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I believe—and human psychologists, particularly psychoanalysts should test this—that present-day civilized man suffers from insufficient discharge of his aggressive drive. It is more than probable that the evil effects of the human aggressive drives, explained by Sigmund Freud as the results of a special death wish, simply derive from the fact that in prehistoric times intra-specific selection bred into man a measure of aggression drive for which in the social order today he finds no adequate outlet.
On Aggression, trans. M. Latzke (1966), 209.
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I want to see a generation of psychologists who can stand alongside the best of all the other scientists, not making any pretence to having discovered the master key to all knowledge.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. From transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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If you want to understand human beings, there are plenty of people to go to besides psychologists.... Most of these people are incapable of communicating their knowledge, but those who can communicate it are novelists. They are good novelists precisely because they are good psychologists.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 128.
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In the world of science different levels of esteem are accorded to different kinds of specialist. Mathematicians have always been eminently respectable, and so are those who deal with hard lifeless theories about what constitutes the physical world: the astronomers, the physicists, the theoretical chemists. But the more closely the scientist interests himself in matters which are of direct human relevance, the lower his social status. The real scum of the scientific world are the engineers and the sociologists and the psychologists. Indeed, if a psychologist wants to rate as a scientist he must study rats, not human beings. In zoology the same rules apply. It is much more respectable to dissect muscle tissues in a laboratory than to observe the behaviour of a living animal in its natural habitat.
From transcript of BBC radio Reith Lecture (12 Nov 1967), 'A Runaway World', on the bbc.co.uk website.
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It is my view that a psychologist who is really going to get anywhere must respect human behaviour. Not only in the sense of considering it a worthwhile subject to study, but in the much more important sense of being willing to reject flippant and cynical views or at least of regarding them as a not very serious kind of sport and of believing that human beings are fundamentally decent.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. Point 6 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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It is possible to read books on Natural History with intelligence and profit, and even to make good observations, without a scientific groundwork of biological instruction; and it is possible to arrive at empirical facts of hygiene and medical treatment without any physiological instruction. But in all three cases the absence of a scientific basis will render the knowledge fragmentary and incomplete; and this ought to deter every one from offering an opinion on debatable questions which pass beyond the limit of subjective observations. The psychologist who has not prepared himself by a study of the organism has no more right to be heard on the genesis of the psychical states, or of the relations between body and mind, than one of the laity has a right to be heard on a question of medical treatment.
The Physical Basis of Mind (1877), 4.
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It is sages and grey-haired philosophers who ought to sit up all night reading Alice in Wonderland in order to study that darkest problem of metaphysics, the borderland between reason and unreason, and the nature of the most erratic of spiritual forces, humour, which eternally dances between the two. That we do find a pleasure in certain long and elaborate stories, in certain complicated and curious forms of diction, which have no intelligible meaning whatever, is not a subject for children to play with; it is a subject for psychologists to go mad over.
In 'The Library of the Nursery', in Lunacy and Letters (1958), 26.
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My task was to show the psychologists that it is possible to apply physiological knowledge to the phenomena of psychical life.
'Reflexes of the Brain', Selected Works (1935), 335-6.
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No degree of genius will ever make one a proficient in the science of man, without accurate observation of human nature in all its varieties.
In 'On the Study of Human Nature' collected in Beauties Selected from the Writings of James Beattie (1809), 229.
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Psychologists pay lip service to the scientific method, and use it whenever it is convenient; but when it isn’t they make wild leaps of their uncontrolled fancy.…
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 127.
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Psychologists, like other scientists, pride themselves on being extremely modern, and therefore much better than any group of people that ever were before....
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 118.
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Psychology appeared to be a jungle of confusing, conflicting, and arbitrary concepts. These pre-scientific theories doubtless contained insights which still surpass in refinement those depended upon by psychiatrists or psychologists today. But who knows, among the many brilliant ideas offered, which are the true ones? Some will claim that the statements of one theorist are correct, but others will favour the views of another. Then there is no objective way of sorting out the truth except through scientific research.
From The Scientific Analysis of Personality (1965), 14.
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The first requirement is loyalty to evidence. The evidence may be sought in unprepared situations after the manner of a great many clinicians and of many social psychologists or in technical, technologically prepared situations or it may be sought in experimentally prepared situations.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. Point 2 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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The genesis of mathematical creation is a problem which should intensely interest the psychologist.
In 'Mathematical Creation', The Value of Science, collected in Henri Poincaré and George bruce Halsted (trans.), The Foundations of Science (1913), 383.
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The genesis of mathematical invention is a problem that must inspire the psychologist with the keenest interest. For this is the process in which the human mind seems to borrow least from the exterior world, in which it acts, or appears to act, only by itself and on itself, so that by studying the process of geometric thought, we may hope to arrive at what is most essential in the human mind
As translated in Arthur I. Miller, Imagery in Scientific Thought Creating 20th-Century Physics (1984, 2013), 307. Opening of Paper delivered at Conference at the Institut Général Psychologique, Paris, 'L’Invention Mathématique', published in Enseignment Mathématique (1908), 10, 357. From the original French, “La genèse do l’Invention mathématique est un problème qui doit inspirer le plus vif intérêt au psychologue. C’est l’acte dans lequel l’esprit humain semble le moins emprunter au monde extérieur, où il n’agit ou ne paraît agir que par lui-même et sur lui-même, de sorte, qu’en étudiant le processus de la pensée géométrique, c’est ce qu’il y a de plus essentiel dans l’esprit humain que nous pouvons espérer atteindre.”
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The manner of Demoivre’s death has a certain interest for psychologists. Shortly before it, he declared that it was necessary for him to sleep some ten minutes or a quarter of an hour longer each day than the preceding one: the day after he had thus reached a total of something over twenty-three hours he slept up to the limit of twenty-four hours, and then died in his sleep.
In History of Mathematics (3rd Ed., 1901), 394.
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The really important questions in human life are hardly touched upon by psychologists. Do liars come to believe their own lies? Is pleasure the same as happiness? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved, or not to be able to love?
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 137.
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The so-called science of psychology is now in chaos, with no sign that order is soon to be restored. It is hard to find two of its professors who agree, and when the phenomenon is encountered it usually turns out that one of them is not a psychologist at all, but simply a teacher of psychology. … Not even anthropology offers a larger assortment of conflicting theories, or a more gaudy band of steaming and blood-sweating professors.
From book review (of Psychology: A Simplification) in American Mercury (Jul 1927), 582-583. Collected in A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949, 1956), 317.
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There are still psychologists who, in a basic misunderstanding, think that gestalt theory tends to underestimate the role of past experience. Gestalt theory tries to differentiate between and-summative aggregates, on the one hand, and gestalten, structures, on the other, both in sub-wholes and in the total field, and to develop appropriate scientific tools for investigating the latter. It opposes the dogmatic application to all cases of what is adequate only for piecemeal aggregates. The question is whether an approach in piecemeal terms, through blind connections, is or is not adequate to interpret actual thought processes and the role of the past experience as well. Past experience has to be considered thoroughly, but it is ambiguous in itself; so long as it is taken in piecemeal, blind terms it is not the magic key to solve all problems.
In Productive Thinking (1959), 65.
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There is very little hope for a psychologist who is not prepared to become an effective collaborator.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. Part of point 7 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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There never has been and there never will be a good psychologist who has not got a number of lively interests outside of psychology itself. Or who fails to connect his psychological research and reflection with these other interests. Similarly there never has been and there never will be a good scientific psychologist who has not got at least some specialised training outside of psychology.
From archive recording (3 Jun 1959) with to John C. Kenna, giving his recollection of his farewell speech to Cambridge Psychological Society (4 Mar 1952), in which he gave a summary of points he considered to be basic requirements for a good experimental psychologist. Point 1 of 7, from transcription of recording held at British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre, London, as abridged on thepsychologist.bps.org.uk website.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
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