100 Best Quotes About Psychology with Their Meaning

Psychology Quotes

Many psychologists throughout the history of psychology have left their imprint on age and, as a result of their discoveries, have impacted other professionals working in this field. Some of these psychologists are included below.

They are and will continue to be a reference in the various subfields under the umbrella of psychology, such as clinical psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, and so on. This is due to the fact that they have an original way of thinking as well as contributions to the field of psychological science.

100 Best Quotes About Psychology

Because we want you to get the most out of this article, we have compiled a collection of the most memorable quotes and statements made by some of the most influential psychologists of the modern era.

1. I suppose it’s tempting to treat everything like a nail if the only tool you have is a hammer (Abraham Maslow)

Psychology Quotes

Abraham Maslow is considered the father of the psychological current called humanism. He has influenced different theorists, but he is possibly remembered for his theory of human needs: Maslow’s Pyramid. With this phrase, Maslow reminds us that we must have a flexible mentality because, otherwise, we will always make the same mistakes.

2. When I look at the world I am pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic (Carl Rogers)

Psychology Quotes

Another reference in humanistic psychology is Carl Rogers, who made great contributions to psychotherapy. With this phrase, he reminds us that the world can be a hostile place. So it’s okay, because everyone, including ourselves, has problems. It is normal and the important thing is to face these situations with a positive spirit.

3. A mind cannot be understood without culture (Lev Vygotsky)

Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky is one of the great learning psychologists. Neither the mind nor learning can be understood without culture since it has a great influence on our development.

4. The disappearance of the sense of responsibility is the greatest consequence of submission to authority (Stanley Milgram)

Stanley Milgram made a notable contribution to social psychology thanks to his research on obedience to authority and this phrase was expressed in his conclusions since Milgram considered that the sense of responsibility disappeared as a result of submission to authority.

5. They never taught you how to speak with your gestures, but you were taught to speak with words (Paul Ekman)

Paul Ekman reminds us that throughout our learning we have been taught to speak in words and have been taught to develop verbal language. However, during our development, educational agents have given little importance to learning gestures; in nonverbal communication.

6. If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for the people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all (Noam Chomsky)

Psychology Quotes

One of the most important psycholinguists and thinkers of the moment, Noam Chomsky, reminds us that it is easy to respect the opinions of those we like. But the same does not happen with people who are not to our liking.

7. The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their mental attitudes (William James)

Although William James already said it in his day, today we are constantly told that attitude makes a difference in our results. Our attitude makes a difference when it comes to relating to others or fighting for our goals.

8. You are what you do, not what you say you will do (CG Jung)

Psychology Quotes

Your actions determine who you are, not your words. This phrase is interpretable in different contexts. For example, in love relationships, when you promise but do not comply; or when you want to achieve something in life, because you can have many ideas, but if you do not take action, they will remain in that, in ideas,

9. Unexpressed emotions never die. They are buried alive and come out later in worse ways (Sigmund Freud)

Nowadays emotional intelligence is in fashion because if we don’t manage our emotions well, our well-being is negatively affected. Sigmund Freud already knew this, and that is why he wanted us to understand that if we do not manage our emotions correctly, in the end, they come out more strongly.

10. People who believe they have the power to exercise some degree of control over their lives are healthier, more effective, and more successful than those who do not have faith in their ability to make changes in their lives (Albert Bandura)

Albert Bandura is one of the most distinguished psychologists. His contributions, such as regarding learning by observation, have marked a before and after in psychology. With this phrase, he makes a clear reference to his theory of self-efficacy, in which he explains that people who believe in themselves are more likely to achieve success in the goals they have set.

11. If an individual is intellectually passive, he will not be able to be morally free (Jean Piaget)

Piaget was a Swiss-born psychologist, biologist, and epistemologist who went down in history for his constructivist theory of intelligence development. For Piaget, from childhood we are explorers and we are building our own mental schemes in the interaction with the world.

12. Never think you know everything. No matter how high you value yourself, always have the courage to tell yourself: I am ignorant (Ivan Pavlov)

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who, after his experiments with dogs, made a notable contribution to the psychological current called behaviorism, specifically to classical conditioning. With his phrase, he tells us that we must be humble and continue learning every day.

13. All people speak of the mind without hesitation but are perplexed when asked to define it (BF Skinner)

BF Skinner wants to tell us with this phrase that the mind is extremely complex. Perhaps that is why he focused only on observable behavior in his experiments. Whatever prompted Skinner to do his research on rats, his conclusions have been of great use to both psychology and education.

14. I am what survives of me (Erik Erikson)

Psychology Quotes

This German-born psychoanalyst reminds us with this phrase that we are what we learn. In other words, what survives in us through experience makes us what we are. A great theoretician who formulated the Theory of Psychosocial Development.

15. Even when it is not completely achievable, we become better by trying to pursue a higher goal (Viktor Frankl)

Having objectives and goals to pursue is healthy and favors the well-being of a person. Not only this, but it is motivating and gives meaning to life.

16. The message sent is not always the message received (Virginia Satir)

Virginia Satir is one of the most influential psychologists in history. This phrase expresses an undeniable principle: when we interact with someone, we have to take their point of view into account and not just ours, since the other interlocutor has his own vision of the world. What may make a lot of sense to us, not to him?

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17. Most social acts must be understood in their context since they lose meaning if they are isolated (Solomon Asch)

People are biopsychosocial beings and, therefore, the context is important in influencing how we act. There are psychologists who affirm that people are neither good nor bad, it is the situation that makes us good or bad.

18. If a person loves only one person and is indifferent to everyone else, his love is not loving, but symbiotic attachment or extended egoism (Erich Fromm)

When we are in love with someone, we would give our lives to that person. This can make us seem like great people because we go out of our way for that other. But even the most egotistical people can lose their minds over someone and seem like a dedicated person. Deep down, all they want is to satisfy their own desires. This is a great phrase from the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.

19. Goals transform a random walk into a chase (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Psychology Quotes

Having goals in life and goals to pursue motivates us and makes the journey exciting. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the great figures in positive psychology and is known for the concept of the comfort zone.

20. There is a negative correlation between recovery and psychological therapy: the more psychological therapy, the less patient recovery (Hans Eysenck)

Hans Eysenck is undoubtedly one of the most important psychologists in the study of personality. Born in Germany but based in the UK, he did a lot of research. For Eysenck, it is not better to do more therapy sessions. But what is important is the quality of the sessions and that the patient is willing to change.

21. Everything worth teaching can be presented in different ways. These multiple ways can make us use our multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner)

Howard Gardner is known for his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. A theory that suggests that human beings have different types of intelligence, and not just a unitary intelligence. Therefore, it is crucial that these bits of intelligence are developed through teaching.

22. I am not in this life to meet the expectations of other people, nor do I feel that the world should meet mine (Fritz Perls)

For Fritz Perls, an individual should focus on oneself and fight for what makes them happy, instead of thinking about what others think of them.

23. A prejudice, unlike a misconception, is actively resistant to all tests that try to disprove it (Gordon W. Allport)

Prejudices turn us into people with little mental flexibility and do not allow us to be realistic, as Gordon W. Allport, a renowned social psychologist, reminds us.

24. If you want truly to understand something, try to change it (Kurt Lewin)

Psychology Quotes

Kurt Lewin, a famed Gestalt psychologist who has influenced many psychology professionals with his theory of leadership types, reminds us that difficult situations that lead us to change are truly enriching because they help us learn.

25. Only the release of the natural capacity of love of a human being can counteract its sadistic destruction (Wilhelm Reich)

One only has to take a look around to see how destructive humans can be. Now, the human being can also be a loving and considerate person. The key is education.

26. Follow your heart but take your brain with you (Alfred Adler)

Psychology Quotes

It’s okay to follow what your heart tells you because that will make you happy. Now, you have to use your head and not get carried away by everything your heart tells you because it can be wrong.

27. The border between good and bad is permeable and anyone can cross it when pressured by the forces of the situation (Anonymous)

It is very easy to say that someone is a good person when they have everything in life. But when the situation is favorable to us, human beings can be hostile people.

28. What a child can do by cooperating today, he can do only tomorrow (Lev Vygotsky)

In his research, Lev Vygotsky placed a lot of importance on cooperative learning. This type of learning provides many benefits for the development and learning of the little ones (and also the older ones).

29. When we take time to realize the things that are going well for us, it means that we are receiving small prizes throughout the day (Martin Seligman)

It is common for us to spend the day ruminating, thinking about the future and about everything we can achieve. But if we focus on the present and value what we have and what we have achieved, this will make us feel really good.

30. The real problem is not whether machines think, but if men do (BF Skinner)

Psychology Quotes

Another famous phrase from the behaviorist BF Skinner, who ironizes out the intelligence of human beings.

31. Hope is paradoxical. To have hope means to be ready at all times for what is not yet born, but without despairing, if the birth does not occur within our lifetime (Erich Fromm)

Erich Fromm highlights here the nature of a rare virtue in our time: hope.

32. The word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it is not balanced with sadness (CG Jung)

Happiness could not be understood without its opposite, just as vacations would not exist if we did not work. A reflection of the famous Swiss psychoanalyst.

33. Giving produces more happiness than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because the act of giving is the expression of my vitality (Erich Fromm)

Another humanist reflection of the author of “The art of loving”. In kindness and generosity lies the greatness of living, of finding ourselves in the reflection of the happiness of those around us.

34. Intelligence, what we consider intelligent actions, changed throughout history. Intelligence is not a substance in the head like oil in an oil tank. It is a collection of potentialities that are completed (Howard Gardner)

A reflection of the author of the theory of multiple intelligences, in which he shows us his particular vision of human intelligence. Do you agree with the opinion of the American psychologist?

35. The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces (Philip Zimbardo)

The Stanford Prison Experiment, led by American psychologist Philip Zimbardo, reveals that human beings may be capable of cruel acts if pushed to do so by the situation.

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36. Psychology is a tricky field, in which even notable authorities have moved in circles, describing things that everyone knows with words that no one understands (Raymond Cattell)

This sentence by Raymond Cattell about Psychology can be a useful reflection to understand psychology.

37. If you are old, do not try to change yourself, change your environment (BF Skinner)

The referent of radical behaviorism speaks here on the basis of his conception of psychology: making the way in which we interact with the environment change in order to change ourselves. One of the most useful psychology phrases to understand operant conditioning.

38. The mission of psychology is to give us a totally different idea about the things we know the most about (Paul Valéry)

The essayist and philosopher Paul Valéry believed that the essence of psychology is to compromise common sense ideas about the way we perceive things and act.

39. Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfactory explanation of our psychology (Steven Pinker)

Pinker, the referent of evolutionary psychology, talks about the role of the evolution of our ancestors in our way of behaving.

40. There is a lot of randomness in the decisions that people make (Daniel Kahneman)

Psychology Quotes

Kahneman, one of the researchers who have challenged the idea that human beings are rational by nature, talks about the chaotic nature of our decisions; even those that apparently obey logic.

41. Follow your heart, but try to always carry your brain with you (Alfred Adler)

A poetic way of insinuating that passions are our motor and reason is the lookout for our progress.

42. Knowledge is an antidote to fear (Gerd Gigerenzer)

For this researcher and popularizer of psychology, knowledge allows us to be more sure about what we do and what we can expect.

43. Don’t become a mere recorder of facts; tries to penetrate the mystery of its origins (Ivan Pavlov)

The Russian physiologist responsible for the creation of behaviorism talks about the spirit of the scientific investigator.

44. Education survives when what has been learned is forgotten (BF Skinner)

For Skinner, education is based on behaviors deeply engraved in us, beyond the theoretical knowledge that we have been able to memorize.

45. Columnists and sports commentators are rewarded for being arrogant (Daniel Kahneman)

A way of reconstructing the behavior of two classes of professionals apparently not very similar to each other.

46. ​​We have to learn to live with uncertainty (Gerd Gigerenzer)

Psychology Quotes

Uncertainty is one of the constants of life, and that is why you have to know how to manage it.

47. Creativity is related to our ability to find new answers to old problems (Martin Seligman)

One of the psychology phrases addresses the subject of creativity with an imaginative definition.

48. We constantly find great opportunities that are brilliantly masked with insoluble problems (Margaret Mead)

This reference to anthropology embodied in this reflection a way of understanding the double edge of part of the opportunities that are presented to us.

49. People tend to evaluate themselves by comparing themselves with other people, not using absolute standards (Leon Festinger)

Festinger was one of the most important social psychologists of the 20th century, and in this way, he reflected the impact that our perception of others has on apparently private psychological processes that only concern one.

50. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others happy (Bertrand Russell)

A psychological phrase of very direct interpretation.

51. Control the way in which a man interprets the world and you will have made a lot of progress in the task of controlling his behavior (Stanley Milgram)

A reflection on the importance of perception in our way of acting.

52. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you.” Mature love says: “I need you because I love you” (Erich Fromm)

Psychology Quotes

One of the most remembered reflections of this psychoanalyst.

53. What one can become, one must be (Abraham Maslow)

One of the phrases about psychology best summarizes humanist philosophy.

54. False optimism sooner or later becomes disappointment, anger, and despair (Abraham Maslow)

A note about the consequences of the way some people experience what happens to them.

55. The time spent in the company of cats is never wasted (Sigmund Freud)

Finally, one of the nicest Sigmund Freud phrases.

56. When you teach a child something, you take away his opportunity to discover it for himself forever (Jean Piaget)

One of the fundamental approaches of the work of this psychologist and biologist.

57. We are never as defenseless against suffering as when we love (Bertrand Russell)

Love generates in us an authentic state of vulnerability.

58. Every human being has a unique combination of intelligence. This is the fundamental educational challenge (Howard Gardner)

This is a truly interesting contribution from this expert in human intelligence.

59. A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity (Sigmund Freud)

Sex, emotions, and violence were some of the topics that the father of psychoanalysis dealt with.

60. While no one can change the events that occurred in the past, everyone can change their attitudes and beliefs about them (Philip Zimbardo)

One of the essential maxims of this American psychologist.

61. Learn, compare, and collect the facts! (Ivan Pavlov)

This Russian physiologist was one of the fathers of modern psychology.

62. Dreams are often deeper when they seem crazier (Sigmund Freud)

A phrase about madness and dreams that will make many of us reflect.

63. What people feel is as important as what they do (BF Skinner)

One of the most famous phrases of this benchmark of behavioral psychology.

64. If you do not believe in yourself, why should others, since it is obvious that you know better than anyone who you are? (Philip Zimbardo)

A phrase that can serve as advice for life.

65. Knowledge is, therefore, a system of transformations that become progressively adequate (Jean Piaget)

This is a truly accurate phrase about human knowledge.

66. The madman is a dreamer awake (Sigmund Freud)

Psychology Quotes

Madness and dreams were constants in the theories of this Austrian doctor and neurologist.

67. Traveling is a good way to learn and overcome fears (Luis Rojas Marcos)

This is a truly inspiring phrase from one of the most celebrated psychiatrists of our time.

68. In the future we will be able to individualize, to personalize education as much as we want (Howard Gardner)

A contribution that gives us hope for the education of the future.

69. I oppose all superstition, be it Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist (Bertrand Russell)

This British philosopher and logician dedicated part of his life to refuting religious thought.

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70. Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do (Jean Piaget)

A truly particular way of conceiving intelligence.

71. I always stay on the ground of the facts: I verify all my conjectures experimentally and, in this way, I always rely on the solution given by the facts (Ivan Pavlov)

A very accurate definition of the scientific method.

72. The freedom of the individual is not a gift of civilization. It was older before there was any civilization (Sigmund Freud)

This is a truly provocative phrase about the relationship between civilization and freedom.

73. We should not be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas (Noam Chomsky)

Chomsky is a great analyst of modern Western society.

74. Intelligence is the ability to find and solve problems and create value products in our own culture (Howard Gardner)

If there is anyone today who knows the concept of “intelligence”, it is the American Howard Gardner.

75. The most difficult thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn (Bertrand Russell)

A phrase that makes us reflect on the need to mature and leave the past behind.

76. I am convinced that an important stage of human thought will have been reached when the physiological and the psychological, the objective and the subjective, are truly united (Ivan Pavlov)

Pavlov, on the future of psychology.

77. The purpose of the mass media is not so much to inform and report what happens, but rather to shape public opinion according to the agendas of the dominant corporate power (Noam Chomsky)

Chomsky has studied in depth the role of today’s media.

78. The basic idea running through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public should be marginalized. The general public is seen as nothing more than ignorant outsiders who interfere, like clueless cattle (Noam Chomsky)

A rather negative view of modern liberal states and the way they treat majorities.

79. History is just new people making old mistakes (Sigmund Freud)

History is cyclical and we end up repeating what previous generations did wrong.

80. The old metaphysical prejudice that man “always thinks” has not yet completely disappeared. I am inclined to maintain that man really thinks very little and very seldom (Wilhelm Wundt)

Wundt is considered the first psychologist in history and in his experimental psychology laboratory he made some discoveries that would pave the way for the genesis of modern psychology.

81. The problem with the world is that the stupid are sure of everything and the intelligent are full of doubts (Bertrand Russell)

Doubt and reflection are the ultimate symbols of intelligence.

82. The man who is educated is the one who learns to learn (Carl Rogers)

A truly tight definition of what learning really is.

83. Media manipulation does more damage than the atomic bomb because it destroys brains (Noam Chomsky)

Chomsky has spent the last years of his career denouncing attempts at manipulation in the media.

84. As no one can be forced to believe, no one can be forced not to believe (Sigmund Freud)

Freud left us great reflections on human knowledge and the nature of people.

85. It is not how smart you are that matters, what really counts is how your intelligence is (Howard Gardner)

Gardner is one of the great experts in the phenomenon of intelligence of our era.

86. The ego does not own its own house. (Sigmund Freud)

The self (ego) is one of the essential elements in Freud’s psychological theory, that conscious part of ourselves.

87. People pay for their own subordination (Noam Chomsky)

People currently invest money in many things that can enslave them: a mortgage, studies, material goods, mobile devices, etc.

88. There is a large number of bodily movements that have their origin in the nervous system, which do not have the character of conscious actions. (Wilhelm Wundt)

Wund made great discoveries, hitherto unpublished, about the nature of the human mind and brain.

89. The history of the world is the sum of what would have been avoidable (Bertrand Russell)

A pessimistic vision of past and present history, as an accumulation of errors.

90. A man who has been his mother’s undisputed favorite maintains the feeling of a conqueror throughout his life (Sigmund Freud)

Freud is one of the great psychologists in history and through his personal theory he explained a large part of people’s psychological profiles.

91. Neither the Bible, nor the prophets, nor the revelations of God or men, nothing has priority over my direct experience (Carl Rogers)

Rogers valued personal empirical experience above all else in terms of knowledge.

92. Scientific thought, then, is not momentary, it is not a static instance, but rather it is a process (Jean Piaget)

Conceiving scientific thinking as a gradual process was one of Piaget’s great discoveries.

93. In the future we will be able to individualize, to personalize education as much as we want (Howard Gardner)

Gardner about the future of education in the world.

94. The school prevents the dissemination of essential truths (Noam Chomsky)

The school can be considered as an indoctrinating element.

95. The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all students as if they were variants of the same individual and thus feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same way (Howard Gardner)

Promoting different bits of intelligence according to the preferences and vocations of each child will ensure that each one receives the education they need.

96. The good life is a life inspired by love and guided by knowledge (Bertrand Russell)

A fully valid vital advice.

97. Our mind is so equipped, fortunately, that it leads us to the most important bases for our thoughts without our having the slightest knowledge of this work of elaboration. The results of it remain unconscious (Wilhelm Wundt)

Wundt laid the foundations of modern psychology and was the first to speak of conscious and unconscious mental processes.

98. There is direction but there is no destination (Carl Rogers)

Many people can feel identified with this quote in their day to day. We must help children to make mistakes and learn on their own.

99. The wise use of leisure is a product of civilization and education (Bertrand Russell)

Russell bequeathed to our observations on almost every use and custom of the society in which he lived.

100. Love and work are the pillars of our humanity (Sigmund Freud)

This is a phrase with which many people could agree.

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