Biographies of Psychologists

Biographies of Psychologists

Gordon Allport

Gordon Willard Allport was an American psychologist born in November 11th, 1897 born in a family of four children. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics from Harvard University from 1919 before traveling to Istanbul, Turkey, to teach philosophy and economics. Gordon was an influential scientist in the field of psychology with much of his works concentrated in understanding the study of a person’s personality making him be recognized as one of the founding figures of personality psychology (Kendra, 2018). Gordon is also remembered for rejecting the earlier dominant schools of thought of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. He developed his trait theory which states that an individual’s personality can be analyzed based on 4,500 different traits categorized under cardinal traits, central traits, and secondary traits.

Émile Durkheim

David Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist and psychologists that lived between 15th April 1858 and 15th November 1917. Durkheim was born of a Jewish family where he learned Jewish religious teachings which made him consider the option of being a rabbi. After the death of his father, Durkheim was burdened with heavy responsibilities and sorrow which influenced him to study the aspect of spiritual progress among individuals (Nicki, 2018). He argued that both grief and effort were more conducive to a person’s spiritual development than the pleasure of joy (Grusky, 2018). He constructed various sociological and psychology concepts such as totemism and the sacred which were similar to the idea of class developed by Karl Marx.

Kurt Lewin

Kurt Lewin was a German-American psychologist who lived from 9th September 1890 to 12th February 1947. Kurt was an influential psychologist who spent most of his time in the US after being exiled from Germany and is often recognized as the founder of social psychology after being among the first to study group dynamics (Kendra, 2018). He was born into a Jewish family in the County of Mogilno. Kurt was admitted at the University of Freiburg to study medicine but later transferred to Munich University where he was accepted to study biology. While still in school, Kurt involved with the country’s social movement and women’s rights issues. He later served in the German army during the World War 1. As a group psychologist, Kurt coined the concept of genidentity and also proposed Herbert Blumer’s interactionist theory. Kurt is known for his argument that neither nature nor nurture alone can influence a person’s behavior and personalities (Miner, 2015). He, however, claimed that both the two factors are useful in shaping a person.


MuzaferSherif was a Turkish-American social psychologist born on July 29, 1906. Muzafer was born in a wealthy family of five children in which he was the second born. Muzafer went to the Izmir American College in Turkey where he received a BA in 1926. He later joined the University of Istanbul where he received an MA in 1928. Muzafer also went to Harvard and Columbia Universities where he earned an MA and a Ph.D. respectively. His dissertation titled ‘Some Social Factors in Perception” was influential in various experiments that Muzafer conducted known to as “autokinetic effect” experiments (“The British Psychological Society”). These experiments showed how the mental evaluation norms were useful in analyzing the individuals’ traits in a group setting.

Comparing the works and theories postulated by the four psychologists as mentioned earlier with other famous psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Sigmund Feud, it is evident that there are significant differences between them. While theories postulated by Gordon, Kurt, Emile, and Muzafer mainly emphasized the role of both personality and environment in influencing the traits of a person, other psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Sigmund Feud, however, postulated that it was nature that plays a significant role in influencing a person’s cognitive development which determines the person’s  traits and behavior. Despite the differences in their schools of thought, all of these individuals played a crucial role in the development of psychology.


Grusky, D. B. (2018). Durkheimian Theories of Class: 22• Emile Durkheim The Division of Labor in Society. In Social Stratification (pp. 239-254). Routledge.

Kendra C. (2018). Gordon Allport Was the Founder of Trait Theory. History and Biographies. Retrieved 19th January 2019 from

Kendra C. (2018). Kurt Lewin Is the Founder of Modern Social Psychology Theory. History and Biographies. Retrieved 19th January 2019 from

Miner, J. B. (2015). From Social Psychology and Personality Theory: Kurt Lewin. In Organizational Behavior 1 (pp. 53-61). Routledge.

Nicki L. C. (2018). How Emile Durkheim Made His Mark on Sociology. ThoughtCo. Retrieved 19th January 2019 from

The British Psychological Society. The Unknown MuzaferSherif. The Psychologist. Retrieved 19th January 2019 from

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