Psychology In The Last 100 Years

Important Events Part II

As we have previously established, psychology is an incredibly important part of our lives. Millions of people have been affected by the discoveries we have made in this field of study, and undoubtedly many more will be as we advance further.The way our brains  work is incredibly complex, but we have made a lot of breakthroughs in understanding ourselves on a deeper level.

Here we offer you the second part of our list of the most critical events in psychology in the last 100 years, continuing with what happened in the ’50s, all the way through recent years!

1956 – The Magical Number 7 Plus or Minus 2: Some Limits In  Our Capacity For Processing Information

This paper, written by George Miller, is one of the most quoted papers in psychology. Its main focus? Attention span and short-term memory. The paper suggests that an average person can hold between 5 and 9 objects in his short-term memory, known as Miller’s law. This sparked a lot of further research and helped people figure out how to improve their memory capacity.

1971 – The Stanford Prison Experiment

This notorious experiment was done in an attempt to understand the effect captivity has on people. It started on the 15th of August and was canceled just six days later after riots and brutality. The experiment included 24 male college students who were randomly assigned the roles of prison guards or prisoners.

After extensive inhumane actions done to the prisoners by the guards, the leading researcher decided to stop the experiment and send everyone home. This showed how much a prison environment changed a person and inspired a few escape attempts in the next weeks.

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1981 – Sexual Preference

Behavioral Psychology

This is one of the most cited books on sexual orientation to this day, and it was written by Alan Bell and a team of sociologists. Their work questioned the notion that sexuality always originates from the environment and the relationship one has with their immediate family. They suggested that heterosexuality and homosexuality have their roots in biology instead of outside factors. This was met with a lot of controversies and sparked a lot of discussions but is now considered a classic work in the field.

1994 – The Bell Curve

This book was written by Hernstein and Murray and focused on their ideas about intelligence. They explain that intelligence is influenced by inherited and environmental factors and can be used as the main predictor for social standing, financial income, involvement in crime, job performance, etc.

They argued that those with high intelligence are separating themselves from others and that this is the cause of social divisions in the USA. The authors also connected race and intelligence and suggested policy implications based on said connection. The book is highly controversial to this day.

2002 – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature

This book was written by Steven Pinker in which he argues against tabula rasa. Tabula rasa is the theory that humans are born without any mental content and, therefore, all knowledge comes from perception.Pinker focuses on the effect this way of thinking has on individuals and how it can make them afraid about many different aspects of their lives.

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He also gives examples of how the idea of a “blank slate” has negatively impacted the world by connecting it to totalitarianism. Most people positively received the book, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

2013 – BRAIN initiative

This is a collaborative private and public research initiative by the Obama administration. Its goal is to support the development of innovative technologies that can help understand the human brain. It is aimed at helping private companies, universities, and researchers in the fight against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and more. It’s a part of the White House Neuroscience Initiative and spans the USA, Canada, Denmark, and Australia.

2014 – Nobel Prize In Physiology

John O’Keefe and May, and Edvard Moser won the Nobel prize in physiology for their discovery of specific kinds of cells named place cells. Place cells are the ones we use when we enter a particular spatial field. They come into contact with other kinds of neurons in the brain and form a sort of cognitive map.

The cells play an essential part in episodic memory and can be found in a variety of animals. The discovery of these cells influences how we view memory and why damaging certain parts of the brain leads to different types of memory loss.


In recent times, the discoveries we have made in psychology prove how important and complex our thoughts and emotions are.

We have a lot more to learn and achieve, but our current progress is quite impressive, given the relatively short time frame it took us to reach! In the last article of this series, we explain the effect psychology has had on society in the last decade and show the parallels between the discoveries in the field and the social conditions!

See also  Psychology In The Last 100 Years

Ready to learn with us on this topic one last time? Read on!