Today we’re going to highlight some of the most famous quotes from psychology over its quite fruitful history. You may recognize some of them, but some will be new and really make you think. We invite you to take a step back into psychology’s history through the thoughts of its brightest minds. Let’s get started: quotes from psychology to make you think.
An optimistic perspective
“When I look at the world I’m pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic”.
Carl Rogers was one of the great minds of humanistic psychology. He defended a positive view of human beings. While he does not deny that there is hostility and danger in the world (to say the least), he emphasizes the importance of facing difficulties with a positive spirit and optimistic perspective. According to Rogers’ point of view, we can all become the kind of people we want to be.
Learning with a flexible mindset
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
If we lived in a very poor country and dreamed of having clean drinking water, it doesn’t make sense to think about the next car we would buy, right? Maslow invites us to reflect on how our environment changes the way we think. He speaks of how our worldview changes depending on our environment, our means, and our thoughts.
The importance of resolving conflicts
“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results”.
-Carl Gustav Jung-
A disciple of Freud, Jung was one of the most outstanding architects of psychology. He theorized about the impact of people’s psyches on their lives. He concluded that we must overcome our problems and not repress them. Otherwise, they may suddenly come to light when you don’t want them to.
What is transmitted is not always what is understood
“The message sent is not always the message received”.
Sometimes we talk as if the person in front of us shares all the same ideas. Virginia Satir, one of the most important psychologists in history, reminds us to keep other people’s opinions in mind.
In her writing, Virginia asks us to interact with other people by embracing their perspective on life. If we think our opinions are the only ones, we undermine our ability to communicate.
Freedom of expression
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”.
Chomsky is one of the most influential psycholinguists and thinkers today. Here, he reflects on the ease with which we usually accept people we share opinions with and the difficulty otherwise. Controversy and difference is where we show how truly tolerant we are.
Self-realization comes when we satisfy our values
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.
Frankl’s proposal is motivational in and of itself. This great mind speaks to the value of people’s spirituality, and applies it to how we achieve our goals. After all, this is the only way we can achieve self-realization in harmony with our values. Viktor Frankl believes that the ultimate meaning of life is beyond our understanding. Out of all of our quotes from psychology, this is one of the most profound yet applicable.
The greatness of living resides in love
“Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness”.
This quote is found in Fromm’s book, “The Art of Loving“. Erich Fromm believes that love can overcome any barrier put up by isolation and loneliness. Gentleness, goodness, and generosity reside in love. Giving love is how you achieve true happiness. Your own happiness and other people’s happiness.
Uncertainty is constant in life
“We have to learn to live with uncertainty”.
This French psychologist studies how reason is of limited utility. He speaks of how we unconsciously use mental and heuristic shortcuts to make decisions. Hence, he believes that people have to coexist with the cognitive biases that prey on us — uncertainty included. And, more importantly, we must learn to accept them and manage them.
Appreciating the present on a daily basis
“When we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day”.
Seligman, as a pioneer of positive psychology, assumes that happiness is intrinsic in human beings. Therefore, sometimes it’s a good idea to stop and reflect in order to appreciate everything we have around us. It will increase our inner strength and enable us live in constant harmony, away from worries and sadness.
Can we learn to think?
“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do”.
In contrast to traditional theories, Skinner believed that motivation is not related to people’s needs. In other words, it’s not necessary to take people’s desires or reasons into account when looking at what motivates them to act. He says we can learn to think, an idea from instrumental conditioning.
These are some of the best quotes from psychology of all time. Maybe they’re not the most poetic, but they certainly cover the essence of the science. Hopefully you took them as an interesting look into the approaches that have given us the deepest understand of human experience.