What is the chronological sequence of significant events and developments in the field of Psychology?

Psychology is a multifaceted and constantly evolving field that seeks to understand the complexities of human behavior and mental processes. Over the years, numerous significant events and developments have shaped the discipline and led to its current state. These events and developments have not only influenced the theories and practices of psychology but have also had a profound impact on society as a whole. In this essay, we will explore the chronological sequence of significant events and developments in the field of psychology, from its beginnings as a philosophical discipline to its current status as a scientific and applied field. By understanding the historical context of psychology, we can gain a deeper appreciation for its evolution and the contributions of various individuals and movements in shaping this fascinating field.

Early history

ca 1550 BC – the Ebers papyrus briefly mentioned clinical depression.
ca 350 BC – Aristotle writes on the psuchê in De Anima.
ca 100 BC – the Dead Sea Scrolls noted the division of human nature into two temperaments.
398 – Psychological analysis of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, anticipates Freud by discovery of the ‘sub-conscious’.
705 – The first psychiatric hospitals and insane asylums were set up by Muslim physicians in Baghdad, Iraq.
ca 750 – Psychiatric hospitals were introduced to Fes, Morocco.
800 – Psychiatric hospitals were introduced to Cairo, Egypt.
ca 850 – Al-Kindi (Alkindus) developed the use of psychotherapy and music therapy in treating mentally ill patients.
ca 850 – Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari developed the idea of using clinical psychiatry to treat mentally ill patients.
ca 900 – The concepts of mental health or “mental hygiene” were introduced by Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi. He also recognized that illnesses can have both psychological and/or physiological causes.
ca 900 – A form of psychotherapy was developed by al-Razi (Rhazes), who was at one time the chief physician of the Baghdad hospital. He first recognized the concept of “psychotherapy” and referred to it as al-‘ilaj al-nafs.
1021 – Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) began to carry out experiments in areas related to body and the nafs. In his Book of Optics, for example, he examined visual perception and what we now call sensation, including variations in sensitivity, sensation of touch, perception of colors, perception of darkness, the psychological explanation of the moon illusion, and binocular vision.
1025 – In The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna recognized ‘physiological psychology’ in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings, which is seen as an anticipation of the word association test. He also described a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including hallucination, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, dementia, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, vertigo and tremor.
ca 1030 – Al-Biruni employed an experimental method in examining the concept of reaction time.
ca 1150 – Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) gave the first accurate descriptions on certain neurological disorders such as meningitis, intracranial thrombophlebitis, and mediastinal germ cell tumors.
ca 1150 – Averroes suggested the existence of Parkinson’s disease.
ca. 1200 – Maimonides wrote about neuropsychiatric disorders and described rabies and belladonna intoxication.
1270 – Famous psychiatric hospitals were built in Damascus and Aleppo in Syria.
1590 – Scholastic philosopher Rudolph Goclenius used the term psychology. Though often regarded as the “origin” of the term, there is conclusive evidence that it was used at least six decades earlier by Marko Marulić.
1672 – in Thomas Willis’ anatomical treatise “De Anima Brutorum”, psychology was described in terms of brain function.


Nineteenth Century


1840 – Rauch, Frederick A. (1806-1841) published Psychology, or a view of the human soul, including anthropology
1844 – Søren Kierkegaard published The Concept of Anxiety, the first exposition on anxiety.
1849 – Søren Kierkegaard published The Sickness Unto Death.


1852 Hermann Lotze published Medical Psychology or Physiology of the Soul.
1855 Herbert Spencer published “Principles of Psychology” under one volume.


1860 – Gustav Theodor Fechner wrote Elements of Psychophysics, establishing the subject of psychophysics.
1861 – Paul Broca discovered an area in the left cerebral hemisphere that is important for speech production (now known as Broca’s area), marking the start of neuropsychology.


1870 – Herbert Spencer published the two volume version of “Principles of Psychology”
1874 – Wilhelm Wundt published his Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie (Principles of Physiological Psychology), the first textbook of experimental psychology.
ca. 1875 – William James opened the first experimental psychology laboratory in the United States, though it was intended for classroom demonstration rather than original research.
1878 – G. Stanley Hall was awarded the first PhD on a psychological topic from Harvard (in philosophy).
1879 – Wilhelm Wundt opened the first experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany.


1883 – G. Stanley Hall opened the first American experimental psychology research laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.
1885 – Hermann Ebbinghaus published Über das Gedächtnis, a groundbreaking work where Ebbinghaus describes experiments on himself.
1886 – John Dewy published the first textbook on psychology titled “Psychology”
1886 – Vladimir Bekhterev established the first laboratory of experimental psychology in Russia at Kazan University.
1886 – Sigmund Freud opened private practice in Vienna.
1887 – Georg Elias Müller opened the second German experimental psychology research laboratory in Göttingen.
1887 – George Trumbull Ladd (Yale) published Elements of Physiological Psychology, the first American textbook to include a substantial amount of information on the new experimental form of the discipline.
1887 – James McKeen Cattell founded an experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, only the 3rd in the United States (including William James’ Harvard lab).
1887 – G. Stanley Hall founded the American Journal of Psychology with a $500 contribution supplied by Robert Pearsall Smith of the American Society for Psychical Research.
1888 – William Lowe Bryan founded the United States’ 4th experimental psychology laboratory at Indiana University.
1888 – Joseph Jastrow founded the United States’ 5th experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
1888 – G. Stanley Hall leaves Johns Hopkins for the presidency of the newly-founded Clark University.
1889 – James Mark Baldwin publishes the first volume of his Handbook of Psychology (“Sense and Intellect”).
1889 – Edmund Sanford, a former student of G. Stanley Hall, founded the United States’ 6th experimental psychology laboratory at Clark University.
1889 – William Noyes founded the United States’ 7th experimental psychology laboratory at the McLean Asylum in Waverley, Mass.
1889 – Harry Kirke Wolfe founded the United States’ 8th experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Nebraska.


1890 – William James published Principles of Psychology.
1890 – James Hayden Tufts founded the United States’ 9th experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Michigan.
1890 – G. T. W. Patrick founded the United States’ 10th experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Iowa.
1890 – James McKeen Cattell left Pennsylvania for Columbia University where he founded the United States’ 11th experimental psychology.
1890 – James Mark Baldwin founded the first permanent experimental psychology laboratory in the British Empire at the University of Toronto.
1891 – Frank Angell founded the United States’ 12th experimental psychology laboratory at the Cornell University.
1891 – Mary Whiton Calkins founded the United States’ 13th experimental psychology laboratory, the first by a woman, at Wellesley College.
1892 – G. Stanley Hall founded the American Psychological Association (APA).
1892 – Edward Bradford Titchener takes a professorship at Cornell University, replacing Frank Angell who has left for Stanford University.
1892 – Edward Wheeler Scripture founded the experimental psychology laboratory at Yale University, the 19th in United States.
1892–1893 – Charles A. Strong opened the experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Chicago, the 20th in the United States, at which James Rowland Angell conducted the first experiments of functionalism in the 1896.
1894 – James McKeen Cattell and James Mark Baldwin found the Psychological Review to compete with Hall’s American Journal of Psychology
1896 – The first psychological clinic was opened at the University of Pennsylvania by Lightner Witmer. Although often celebrated as marking the birth of clinical psychology, Witmer’s clinic was focused primarily on educational matters.
1896 – Edward B. Titchener, student of Wilhelm Wundt and originator of the terms “structuralism” and “functionalism,” published his An Outline of Psychology.
1898 – Edward Thorndike described the Law of effect.
1898 – Boris Sidis publishes The Psychology of Suggestion: A Research into the Subconscious Nature of Man and Society.


Twentieth Century


1900 – Sigmund Freud published ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ marking the beginning of Psychoanalytic Thought.
1903 – John B. Watson graduated from the University of Chicago. His dissertation on rat behavior has been described as a “classic of developmental psychobiology” by historian of psychology, Donald Dewsbury.
1904 – Charles Spearman published the article General Intelligence in the American Journal of Psychology, introducing the g factor theory of intelligence.
1905 – Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon created the Binet-Simon scale to identify students needing extra help, marking the start for standardized psychological testing.
1906 – The Journal of Abnormal Psychology founded by Morton Prince for which Boris Sidis was an associate editor and significant contributor.
1909 – Sigmund Freud lectured at Clark University.


1910 – Boris Sidis opens the Sidis Psychotherapeutic Institute (a private hospital) at Maplewood Farms in Portsmouth, NH for the treatment of nervous patients using the latest scientific methods.
1911 – Alfred Adler left Freud’s Psychoanalytic Group to form his own school of thought, accusing Freud of overemphasizing sexuality and basing his theory on his own childhood.
1912 – Max Wertheimer published Experimental Studies of the Perception of Movement, considered the founding article of Gestalt psychology
1913 – Carl Jung departed from Freudian views and developed his own theories citing Freud’s inability to acknowledge religion and spirituality. His new school of thought became known as Analytical Psychology.
1913 – Jacob L. Moreno applied Group Psychotherapy methods in Vienna. His new methods, which emphasised spontaneity and interaction, later became known as Psychodrama and Sociometry.
1913 – John B. Watson published Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It, sometimes known as “The Behaviorist Manifesto”.
1914 – Boris Sidis publishes The Foundations of Normal and Abnormal Psychology where he provides the scientific foundation for the field of psychology, and details his theory of the moment-consciousness.


1920 – John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner conducted the Little Albert experiment, using classical conditioning to make a young boy afraid of white rats.
1921 – Jacob L. Moreno conducted the first large scale public Psychodrama session at the Komoedienhaus, Vienna. He moves to New York in 1925.
1922 – Boris Sidis publishes Nervous Ills: Their Cause and a Cure, a popularization of his work concerning the subconscious and the treatment of psychopathic disease.
1923 – Boris Sidis dies suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage on the morning of 24 October.
1927 – Ivan Pavlov publishes book on Classical Conditioning.
1928 – Jean Piaget’s book Judgement and Reasoning in the Child is published.


1934 – Lev Vygotsky’s Thought and Language (a.k.a. Thinking and Speech) is first published (in Russian)
1935 – John Ridley Stroop developed a color-word task to demonstrate the interference of attention, the Stroop effect
1938 – B.F. Skinner published his first major work, The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis, introducing behavior analysis.
1939 – Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a classic report in the journal Nature of the first recording of an action potential.


1942 – Carl Rogers published ‘Counseling and Psychotherapy’ suggesting that respect and a non-judgmental approach to therapy is the foundation for effective treatment of mental health issues.
1943 – Leo Kanner published Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact. The first systematic description of autistic children.
1943 – Abraham Maslow described his hierarchy of needs in the paper A Theory of Human Motivation, published in Psychological Review
1945 – The Journal of Clinical Psychology was founded.
1949 – Donald Hebb published The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory in which he provided a detailed, testable theory of how the brain could support cognitive processes.
1949 – Boulder Conference outlined scientist-practitioner model of clinical psychology, looking at the M.D. versus Ph.D. used by medical providers and researchers, respectively.
1949 – David Wechsler presented Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), the first edition of the Wechsler-test for children.


1950 – Rollo May published The Meaning of Anxiety.
1951 – Carl Rogers published his major work, Client-Centered Therapy.
1951 – In the Asch conformity experiments, Solomon Asch demonstrated the power of conformity in groups.
1951 – Lee Cronbach wrote about his measure of reliability, now known as Cronbach’s alpha.
1952 – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published by The American Psychiatric Association marking the beginning of modern mental illness classification.
1952 – Hans Eysenck started a debate on psychotherapy with his critical review, claiming that psychotherapy had no documented effect, and psychoanalysis had negative effects.
1953 – B.F. Skinner outlined behavioral therapy, lending support for behavioral psychology via research in the literature.
1953 – Code of Ethics for Psychologists was developed by the American Psychological Association.
1953 – Harry Stack Sullivan published The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry which holds that an individual’s personality is formed by relationships.
1954 – Abraham Maslow helped to found Humanistic psychology and later developed his famous Hierarchy of Needs.
1955 – Lee Cronbach published Construct Validity in Psychological Tests, popularizing the concept of Construct validity.
1956 – George Armitage Miller wrote his classic paper The Magical Number Seven, Plus-or-Minus Two, in which he showed that there is a limit on the amount of information that can be apprehended in a brief period of time.
1956 – Rollo May published Existence, promoting Existential psychology.
1956 – Leon Festinger proposed his theory of Cognitive dissonance
1958 – Harry Harlow published The Nature of Love which summarized studies on monkeys and rejected behavioranalytic and psychoanalytic theories of attachment.
1959 – Noam Chomsky published his review of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, an event seen as by many as the start of the Cognitive revolution.
1959 – Lawrence Kohlberg wrote his doctoral dissertation, outlining his stages of moral development.


1960 – John L. Fuller and W. Robert Thompson published the field-defining text Behavior Genetics.
1961 – In the Bobo doll experiment, Albert Bandura studied behavioral patterns of aggression.
1962 – George Armitage Miller released the classic book Psychology, the Science of Mental Life signaling a rejection of the idea that psychology should study just behavior.
1962 – Silvan Tomkins published the first volume of two of Affect Imagery Consciousness, were he presented his Affect theory
1962 – American psychologist Albert Ellis released his classic book “Reason and Emotion In Psychotherapy” describing the theoretical foundations of his therapeutic system Rational Therapy, now known as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
1962 – Wilfred Bion presented his theory of thinking
1963 – Stanley Milgram described his study of obedience to authority, now known as the Milgram experiment.
1963 – Alexander Luria published The Working Brain. A detailed description of the brain with great importance for the habilitation of damage to the brain.
1964 – Carl Rogers received American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year award
1965 – Anna Freud published Normality and pathology in childhood: Assessments of development, and presented the concept of developmental lines.
1965 – Donald Winnicott published The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment. A main text in clinical psychodynamic developmental psychology.
1966 – Erich Fromm received American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year award
1967 – Aaron Beck published a psychological model of depression suggesting that thoughts play a significant role in the development and maintenance of depression.
1967 – Abraham Maslow received American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year award
1968 – DSM-II was published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1968 – First Doctor of Psychology (Psy. D.) professional degree program in Clinical Psychology was established in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
1969 – California School of Professional Psychology was established as the first freestanding school of professional psychology.
1969 – The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology was initiated by Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof and Anthony Sutich
1969 – John Bowlby published his Attachment theory in the classic book Attachment and Loss, Volume 1.
1969 – Harry Harlow published his experiment on affection development in rhesus monkeys.
1969 – Joseph Wolpe published The Practice of Behavior Therapy.


1971 – The Stanford prison experiment, conducted by Philip Zimbardo and others at Stanford University, studied the human response to captivity. The experiment quickly got out of hand and was ended early.
1971 – Martin Shubik demonstrated the Dollar auction experiment, illustrating irrational choices.
1971 – O’Keefe and Dostrovsky discover “place cells” in the hippocampus
1972 – The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study started, a longitudinal study with 96% retention rate as of 2006. This is unprecedented for a longitudinal study, with many others worldwide experiencing 20–40% drop-out rates.
1972 – B.F. Skinner received American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year award
1973 – Vail Conference of Graduate Educators in Psychology endorsed the scholar-practitioner training model.
1974 – Robert Hinde published Biological Bases of Human Social Behavior. Main text in etological oriented developmental psychology.
1974 – Arnold Sameroff published Reproductive Risk and the Continuum of Caretaking Causality, and introduced the transactional model, an influential model in modern developmental psychology.
1974 – Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch proposed their model of working memory. It is often referred to as Baddeley’s model of working memory.
1976 – Julian Jaynes publishes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, an exploration of the dual hemisphere nature of the human brain and the origins of religion and science.
1977 – Alexander Thomas published Temperament and Development, a longitudinal study on the importance of temperament for the development of personality and behavioral problems. An important study for modern research on temperament.
1977 – Albert Bandura published his book Social learning theory, and expanded on the work of Julian Rotter who moved away from theories based on behaviorism and psychoanalysis.
1977 – Albert Bandura published his article on the concept of self-efficacy, “a unifying theory of behavioral change”.
1977 – Robert Plomin and colleagues proposed three major ways in which genes and environments act together to shape human behavior. They coined the terms passive-, active-, and evocative gene-environment correlation.
1978 – Mary Ainsworth published her book Patterns of Attachment about her work on Attachment theory and the Strange Situation experiment.
1978 – David Premack published the book Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind?, on his research on mental abilities in monkeys and introduced the term Theory of Mind.
1978 – Cognitive Neuroscience received its name by Michael Gazzaniga and George Armitage Miller. Cognitive Neuroscience has been described as the effort to understand how the brain represents mental events.
1978 – John O’Keefe and Lynn Nadel publish “The hippocampus as a cognitive map”
1978 – E.O. Wilson publishes “On Human Nature”, arguably the first landmark text to deal with what would become Evolutionary Psychology
1979 – Urie Bronfenbrenner published The Ecology of Human Development, a seminal text in developmental and ecological psychology.


1980 – DSM-III published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1982 – Carol Gilligan published In a Different Voice, on feminist psychology
1983 – Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind, introducing his theory of multiple intelligences
1984 – Jerome Kagan published The Nature of the Child, a biological and socially oriented description of the role of temperament in human development.
1984 – Peter Saville published the OPQ Pentagon questionnaire, a psychological personality inventory measuring the Five Factor Model
1985 – Daniel Stern published The Interpersonal World of the Infant, proposing an extensive mental life in early infancy
1985 – Robert Sternberg proposed his triarchic theory of intelligence
1985 – Reuben Baron and David A. Kenny published the article The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology proposing a distinction of moderating in mediating variables in psychological research.
1985 – Simon Baron-Cohen published Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’? with Uta Frith and Alan Leslie. They proposed that children with autism show social and communication difficulties as a result of a delay in the development of a Theory of mind.
1985 – Costa & McRae published the NEO PI-R five-factor personality inventory, a psychological personality inventory; a 240-question measure of the Five Factor Model
1986 – Albert Bandura published Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
1987 – Erik Erikson published The Life Cycle Completed, expanding on his stage theory of psychosocial development.
1988 – Michael M. Merzenich and colleagues showed that sensory and motor maps in the cortex can be modified with experience, a process called neural plasticity


1991 – Steven Pinker proposed his theory on how children acquire language in Science, later popularized in the book The Language Instinct.
1992 – Jaak Panksepp coined the term Affective neuroscience, the name of the field that studies neural mechanisms of emotion, and later presented the book Affective neuroscience – The foundations of human and animal emotions
1992 – Sandra Scarr published Developmental Theories of the 1990s proposing that genes control experiences, and that genes search and creates environments.
1992 – Joseph LeDoux summarized and published his research on brain mechanisms of emotion and emotional learning.
1992 – American Psychological Association selected behavioral genetics as one of two themes that best represented the past, present, and future of psychology.
1994 – DSM-IV published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1994 – Antonio Damasio proposed his somatic-marker hypothesis by which emotional processes can guide (or bias) behavior, particularly decision-making.
1994 – Esther Thelen and Linda B. Smith published A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action. A main text on the use of developmental models based on dynamic systems
1995 – Simon Baron-Cohen coined the term mind-blindness to reflect the inability of children with autism to properly represent the mental states of others
1996 – Giacomo Rizzolatti and colleagues discovered so called mirror neurons


Twenty-First Century


2000 – Alan Baddeley updated his model of working memory from 1974 to include the episodic buffer as a third slave system alongside the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketchpad.
2000 – Max Velmans published Understanding Consciousness, arguing for reflexive monism.
2002 – Avshalom Caspi et al. presented a study that was the first to provide epidemiological evidence that a specific genotype moderates children’s sensitivity to environmental insults.
2002 – Steven Pinker published The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, arguing against tabula rasa models of the social sciences.
2002 – Daniel Kahneman won Nobel Prize.
2007 – George Mandler published A History of Modern Experimental Psychology.



2010 – The draft of DSM-5 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was distributed for comment and critique.
2010 – Simon LeVay published Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why, which in 2012 received the Bullough Book Award for the most distinguished book written for the professional sexological community published in a given year.
2012 – In 2009 America’s professional association of endocrinologists established best practices for transgender children that included prescribing puberty-suppressing drugs to preteens followed by hormone therapy beginning at about age 16, and in 2012 the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry echoed these recommendations.
2012 – The American Psychiatric Association issued official position statements supporting the care and civil rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
2013 – On April 2 U.S. President Barack Obama announced the 10-year BRAIN Initiative to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain.
2013 – DSM-5 was published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Among other things, it eliminated the term “gender identity disorder,” which was considered stigmatizing, instead referring to “gender dysphoria,” which focuses attention only on those who feel distressed by their gender identity.
2014 – Stanislas Dehaene, Giacomo Rizzolatti, and Trevor Robbins, were awarded the Brain Prize for their research on higher brain mechanisms underpinning literacy, numeracy, motivated behaviour, social cognition, and their disorders.
2014 – Brenda Milner, Marcus Raichle, and John O’Keefe received the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition.
2014 – John O’Keefe shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.
2015 – The journal Psychology Today announced that it will no longer accept ads for gay conversion therapy, and is deleting medical practitioners who list such therapy in their professional profiles.
August 7, 2015 – The American Psychological Association barred psychologists from participating in national security interrogations at sites violating international law.
August 27, 2015 – A team led by Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia published an article in Science that revealed that only 39 of 100 studies published in major psychology journals could be replicated.

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