The Top 20 Psychologists 40 & Under

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By the very fact of their youthfulness, few on this list of leading psychologists will be widely known outside their field. To absorb the knowledge and do the work necessary to build a career in any profession takes time, and more so in academia. Now add that psychology, even as an academic discipline, is both immensely broad and applicable to almost all facets of human life, and it seemed clear that we ought to expand the criteria of “influence” for this list beyond the usual academic boundaries.

That is why a number of the people selected for our list made their reputation outside of the university milieu. Several gained notoriety through their writing and/or motivational speaking, training, and coaching; a number are in private practice; and two or three have influenced public affairs and politics. Despite their contrasts, what these young psychologists have in common is a profusion of intellect, character, and drive. After all, those qualities brought them to our attention — and now to yours.

Of course, many other names might have plausibly appeared on the list. We know this is not the Platonic Form of the list of up-and-coming psychologists. But it is as close to that ideal as we could achieve. We believe it is an interesting and revealing list in a number of ways, and we hope you will have as much fun reading it as we had researching and writing it.

As always, we are happy to hear your comments and suggestions.

Ranking Methodology

The overall list is in alphabetical order.

20 Top Psychologists 40 and Under

1. Shawn Achor

Achor was born in Waco, Texas, in 1978. He holds a BA from Harvard College and an MA from Harvard Divinity School. Achor is an internationally known author and speaker, as well as Co-Founder and CEO of GoodThink Inc., a happiness consulting firm.

Achor is a best-selling author and one of the most popular among the many recent thinkers who have been working in the field of positive psychology, or happiness research. At the root of his message lies the idea that we are mistaken in believing that attaining specific goals — achieving “success” — is the source of happiness, or a sense of well-being, in life. Rather, Achor argues, it is just the reverse. Happy people are naturally much more capable of attaining whatever goals they set for themselves. How, then, does one attain happiness? Achor argues that there are tried-and-true techniques for achieving a more-positive state of mind, including exercising, meditating, journaling about small things one is grateful for, expressing gratitude to others, communicating with friends and family, offering help to others, and so on.

In 2007, Achor co-founded Goodthink Inc. (together with Amy Blankson, his sister) as a primary vehicle for his research, writing, and lecturing endeavors. He is the author of four best-selling books aimed at popular audiences, as well as a children’s book (see below). He has published articles and interviews in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and elsewhere, has given a highly popular TED talk (see below), and has made presentations to academic and business groups in more than 50 countries around the world. Achor continues to conduct original research on the psychology of individual happiness and organizational achievement in partnership with the Institute for Applied Positive Research (the research arm of GoodThink Inc.) and Yale University.

2. Katherine V. Aumer

Aumer was born in Hawaii in 1981. She holds a BA (2003) in psychology and theater from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. (2008) in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Aumer is currently Associate Professor of Psychology at Hawaii Pacific University.

Aumer is a social psychologist specializing in several distinct but related areas of research. One of these is the way in which race, ethnicity, and gender enter into the construction of individual identity, and how persons with multiple identities — some of which may be deprised by the surrounding culture — negotiate their status within social institutions such as school. She has also investigated race more specifically, in relation to racial prejudice and hatred, micro-aggressions, and the impact of racial identity on cultural preferences of various kinds. The third and most recent area of research for which Aumer is becoming increasingly recognized is sexual relationships, especially such dimensions of those relationships as equity, jealousy, and even hatred.

Aumer has published extensively in the fields of social psychology, race and ethnic studies, and gender and relationship studies, including in such prominent journals as Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Computers in Human Behavior, Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Relationships Research, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, and Interpersona. She is also the author or editor of two books (see below).

3. Sebastian J. Bartoschek

Bartoschek was born in Recklinghausen, Germany, in 1979. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology in 2004 from Ruhr-University Bochum, and his doctorate (DPhil) in 2013 from the University of Munster (Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster). Bartoschek is the Founder of the Institut Bartoschek: Institut für psychologischen Dienstleistungen [Bartoschek Institute: Psychology in the Service of Man]. In addition, h has a private clinical practice and is a prolific freelance writer, blogger, podcaster, and science slammer.

Bartoschek calls himself a “psychologist and journalist.” By this he means that in his writing he aims to bring his psychological expertise to bear on the concerns of a lay audience. In his capacity as a research psychologist, Bartoschek has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, notably in Wirtschaftspsychologie aktuell [Business Psychology Today], as well as book chapters. He has also published on a large number of other topics, notably child and adolescent psychology, psychology and the law (especially relating to children), fairy tales, conspiracy theories, the Internet, and the critique of contemporary science and popular culture. He is a prominent participant in Germany in what are known as Science Slams, in which scientists take turns presenting their research in front of a lay audience, which then votes on the best slammer. As already mentioned, Bartoschek also maintains a private clinical practice, which specializes in child and youth welfare psychology.

In his capacity as a journalist, Bartoschek has published widely in the German print media. He is also author, co-author, or editor of a dozen or so books, including several available in digital editions (see below). In addition to his prolific writing for print media, Bartoschek has given numerous online interviews and podcasts, and has blogged extensively on his own and others’ websites — notably for the German edition of Huffington Post.

4. Belle Derks

Derks was born in Voorburg, in the Netherlands, in 1979. She holds a Ph.D. (2007) in social psychology from Leiden University. As a post-doc, she worked in social psychology and neuroscience labs at the University of Toronto and the University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently full Professor of Psychological Perspectives on Organizational Behaviour within Institutions in the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at Utrecht University, where she runs that university’s Groups and Identity Lab.

Derks specializes in the psychology and neurobiology of organizational behavior within institutions, especially as they relate to gender and racial equity issues. For example, she has studied the physiological (cardiovascular) and neural (both electroencephalograph [EEG] and event-related potential [ERP]) consequences — as well as the unconscious psychological effects — of stereotyping on the motivation and performance of women and minorities within academic, business, and other organizations. She is especially noted for a series of investigations into the “queen bee effect” — the fact that highly successful women often end up identifying with their male colleagues within the existing, male-dominated power structure, unconsciously reinforcing the “glass ceiling” for younger women in the organization.[1][2][3] She is now at work on a long-term project entitled "A Neuroscience Approach to Social Identity Threat: The Role of Preconscious Processes in Motivational Withdrawal among Members of Stigmatized Groups.” On the basis of her research, Derks has made innovative policy recommendations that should help to increase ​​diversity within organizations.

Derks is author or co-author of some 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, as well as the co-editor of one book (see below). She is a member of De Jonge Akademie [The Young Academy], a 50-member academic body organized under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), consisting of distinguished young Dutch scholars working in the natural and social sciences.

5. Mateusz Grzesiak

Grzesiak was born in Białystok, Poland, in 1980. As an undergraduate, he attended the University of Bonn, in Germany, for two years, and the University of Warsaw, in Poland, where he received his bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Law and Administration in 2004. He also holds a master’s degree (2008) in psychology from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, and a Ph.D. (2009) in management science from the Warsaw School of Economics. Grzesiak works as an entrepreneur, author, and personal and corporate trainer, coach, and consultant.

Grzesiak conducts training classes both in his native Poland and abroad. Fluent in seven languages, he has conducted classes in the native languages of the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil, and in English in Slovenia and Israel. He has also participated as an invited speaker in numerous international congresses on leadership, including in the United States. As an internationally recognized sales and management expert, he has consulted for many corporations, including Coca-Cola, Danone, Porsche, Audi, Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Aviva (a British insurance company), Roche Holding (a Swiss healthcare conglomerate), Sysmex (a Japanese healthcare conglomerate), Hubert Burda Media (a major German media company), Infosys (an Indian IT conglomerate), and Google. One of Poland’s best-known psychologists, Grzesiak frequently appears as a guest on television programs there. In 2017, a Polish fashion and celebrity website voted him “Optimist of the Year."[4]

Grzesiak is Chairman and CEO of the Starway Institute, an international educational company, and the Mateusz Grzesiak Group, a leading Polish self-development company. Grzesiak maintains a busy training schedule (see his Personal Website, linked below), is a regular contributor to his Personal Blog (linked below), and has published more than a dozen books in three languages (of which some of the most notable are listed below). He is also the originator of the Mixed Mental Arts training program.

6. Scott Barry Kaufman

Kaufman was born in Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania, in 1979. He received his bachelor’s degree (2003) in psychology and human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, where he worked with legendary cognitive scientist Herbert A. Simon. He holds a master’s degree (MPhil; 2005) in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. (2009) in cognitive psychology from Yale University, where he wrote his dissertation under the supervision of Robert J. Sternberg. A Co-Founder of The Creativity Post website, Kaufman is currently Chief Science Advisor for The Future Project, as well as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University.

Kaufman’s research and writing have focused on the measurement and development of intelligence and creativity, especially in relation to education and business. While he lays stress on the multi-dimensionality of intelligence, thus following in the footsteps of Howard Gardner and others, his research goes beyond theirs in several ways. For one thing, Kaufman questions the usefulness of making comparisons among individuals, which remains the focus of most academic intelligence research. Instead, he emphasizes individual development, arguing not only that each individual is unique, but also that each of us possesses latent intellectual capacities that can be tapped through the right kind of encouragement and instruction. Kaufman also argues that intelligence should be re-conceptualized in terms of two major sorts of developmental processes: (1) the adaptation of individuals to the context-dependent tasks presented to them by their life situations; and (2) individuals' formulation of their own particular long-term goals, along with the development of the character traits necessary to accomplish those goals, notably harmonious passion, persistence, and the ability to learn and grow.

Kaufman is author or co-author of more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, reviews, commentaries, and encyclopedia entries. He has also given around 25 invited lectures, talks, and conference presentations, and is an active reviewer for numerous scholarly journals, sitting on the editorial board of four of them. The recipient of many grants, awards, and other honors, Kaufman won the 2012 Mensa Excellence in Research Award for outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness, and related fields.

7. Nichole R. Kelly

Kelly was born c. 1982. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2004 from the University of Virginia, and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology in 2013 from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kelly is currently Evergreen Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology and Human Services and Prevention Science in the Department of Education of the University of Oregon.

Kelly is a counseling psychologist specializing in eating disorders. Her primary research focus is on cognitive and emotional mechanisms for disinhibited eating, as well as on measurement, multicultural issues, and clinical intervention and prevention. Her research assumes a developmental perspective, investigating the eating behavior of children, youth, adults, and families, and developing clinical programs to assist them in achieving and sustaining a healthier relationship to food.

Kelly is currently pursuing her research under the auspices of the University of Oregon’s Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Initiative. More specifically, the goal of her present research is to better understand the reasons why some people overeat, even when they are aware of what constitutes a healthy diet and of the long-term harm that obesity can cause. Kelly works primarily with populations known to be at higher risk statistically of developing eating disorders and obesity.

Kelly is author or co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She has also delivered some 60 invited lectures, talks, and presentations. She has performed ad hoc manuscript reviews for over 20 academic journals, and she sits on the editorial board of the Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Kelly has received several major research grants, and has participated as Student, Fellow, Examiner, or Co-Leader in nine clinical programs at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as in elementary schools, hospitals, and community boards in Richmond, Virginia, and elsewhere.

8. Jaimie Arona Krems

Krems was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1984. She received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in archaeology in 2006 from Bryn Mawr College, and her master’s degree in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology in 2012 from the University of Oxford in the UK. She obtained her Ph.D. in social psychology in 2018 from Arizona State University. Beginning in the fall of 2018, Krems will be Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Oklahoma State University.

Krems is a social psychologist who draws on a number of interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, including social psychology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, and animal behavior. Her particular fields of research interest include social cognition (especially friendship), female sociality, and stereotyping. More specifically, she has focused on friendship and competition among women, identifying the distinct opportunities and challenges afforded by female sociality and the ways in which girls' and women’s social perception, cognition, and behavior help them successfully navigate the interpersonal and wider social environments.

Krems has also explored how we identify and manage the various opportunities and threats that other people pose to us, and the ways in which our perceptions of various social environmental cues — such as other people’s body shapes, emotional expressions, and religious beliefs — can lead either to stereotyping and stigma or to trust and cooperation.

Krems is author or co-author of 14 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters (several of which are listed below), as well as more than 40 invited conference presentations and posters. She is also the recipient of some 20 research grants, fellowships, and other awards and honors.

9. Steffen Landgraf

Landgraf was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1980. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2004 from the University of Minnesota in the US, then returned to Europe, where he obtained his Diplom in psychology in 2007 from Humboldt University in Berlin, his Promotion in psychology in 2010 jointly from Humboldt University and the Sorbonne in Paris, and his Habilitation in psychology in 2013 from Humboldt University. Between 1997 and 2004, Landgraf enjoyed a successful career in Germany as a long jumper and decathlete. He is currently Lehrbeauftrachter (Permanent Lecturer) in the Department of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Regensburg, in addition to maintaining a private clinical practice as a behavioral therapist.

Landgraf is a social and biological psychologist who works in the fields of forensic psychology and clinical neuroscience; in the latter capacity, he employs such methods as fMRI and oculometry/pupillometry. More specifically, his research has covered a range of topics, including exceptional cognition (creativity and giftedness), visual perception, culture, and the influence of all of the foregoing on schizophrenia and violence. In addition, he has published in the area of sexual-approaching behavior. Landgraf is perhaps best known, however, for his studies on the association between visual dysfunctions and the risk of developing psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia (several of his most important articles on this topic are listed below).

Landgraf is co-author of many English-language, peer-reviewed journal articles. The recipient of two prestigious “Young Scientist Awards” — one bestowed upon him in 2009 by the Paris-based World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry and the other in 2010 by the International Symposium on Schizophrenia, based in Berne, Switzerland — Landgraf is a member of the Société des Neurosciences in France, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping and the Society for Cognitive Neuroscience, both in the US, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie in Germany.

10. Irene María Montero Gil

Montero was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1988. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in educational psychology, both from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid [Autonomous University of Madrid] (UAM). She currently works as a researcher in psychology in the Departamento Interfalcutativo de Psicología evolutiva y de la Educación [Inter-School Department of Evolutionary Psychology and Education], which is run jointly by the Facultad de Psicología
[school of Psychology] and the Facultad de Educación
[school of Education] of the Autonomous University. Montero is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on new methods of educational inclusion; her official title at present is Investigadora en Formación (Researcher in Training).

Montero combines her work as a research psychologist with her political duties as a member of the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower chamber of parliament. She got her start in politics in 2011, when she joined Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca [Platform for People Affected by Mortgages] (PAH), a grass-roots organization founded in 2009 to fight evictions of people who were behind with their mortgage payments. PAH now has branches in 150 cities all across Spain. Montero entered Spanish party politics in 2014 by joining the newly founded, left-wing Podemos [We Can] party, for which she acted as spokesperson and as chief of staff to party leader Pedro Iglesias Turrión. In 2016, she was elected a Deputy for Madrid on the ticket of the Unidos Podemos [United We Can] (UP) party, which was formed that year to contest the Spanish parliamentary elections by merging Podemos with several smaller left-wing parties. Following the 2016 elections, UP currently holds 71 seats (out of a total of 350) in the Congress of Deputies and 16 (out of 208) in the Senate (the upper chamber of Spain’s parliament). Iglesias remains at the helm of the larger grouping. As one of his closest associates, Montero is currently the official spokesperson for the UP delegation in the Congress of Deputies.

In 2017, Montero became the first woman in the history of the Spanish parliament to deliver a speech demanding a motion of censure against the incumbent Primer Minister (in this case, Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative People’s Party).

11. Jack Nasher

Nasher was born in Korbach, Germany, in 1979. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy and psychology from Trier University, a law degree from Goethe University Frankfurt, a master’s in management studies from Oxford University’s Said Business School, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Vienna. A well-known author and negotiation advisor, Nasher is currently Professor of Organization and Business Management at Munich Business School. He is also Founder and CEO of Nasher Negotiation Institute in Munich.

As can be seen from his widely varied training, Nasher wears several different hats. As a psychologist, he is best known for his work in applied psychology in the context of personal and business negotiation. He is a recognized expert on the personal psychology of self-confidence and the social psychology of self-presentation, as these are related to achieving one’s goals in life. Nasher’s writings demonstrate how transparent and reciprocal negotiation with other people (as opposed to deceit and manipulation) is both the most moral and the efficient means of getting what one wants. He has also written on how to detect deceptive and manipulative behavior in others, and how best to deal with it.

As a philosopher, Nasher has written on Utilitarianism in moral philosophy and on Karl Popper’s moral and political philosophy. Finally, as a lawyer, he has clerked or served as a consultant with the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament, the New York — based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and the German mission to the United Nations in New York City.

Nasher is the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and other essays, including many articles for Focus Online, the online version of the popular German news magazine Focus. He has also written seven books, several of which have become best-sellers, in German. The most recent one has been translated into English (see below). He has also delivered presentations at more than a dozen international applied psychology and business management conferences. Nasher’s work has been featured by Harvard Business Manager (the German-language edition of Harvard Business Review) and Die Zeit, one of Germany’s top national newspapers.

12. Maital Neta

Neta was born in Texas in 1981, but was raised in California. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychobiology in 2002 from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). After doing research at Harvard Medical School for two years, she obtained her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience in 2010 from Dartmouth College. She is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln (UNL) and a member of the Core Faculty in UNL’s Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior, where she works in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab.

Neta is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in the neural basis of emotion regulation. More specifically, her work examines neurophysiological responses to ambiguity resolution with respect to emotional facial expressions. While the meaning of some facial expressions (happy or sad) is typically unambiguous, investigators have found that other expressions (surprise) may have either positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. Neta studies the reasons why some people tend to react positively and others negatively to the same ambiguous facial expressions in the same neutral context situations.

Neta also studies the functional networks in the human brain that support decision-making processes, especially relating to task control. In her work, she uses a variety of technologies, including facial electromyography (fEMG), electrodermal activity (EDA), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and resting-state fMRI.

Neta is author or co-author of approximately 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters (published and forthcoming), and has delivered invited talks and poster presentations at nearly 60 conferences. She has served as referee for some 20 academic journals, and has coordinated or organized several major academic conferences, including the 2018 Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: “Emotion in the Mind and Body.” In 2008, Neta won the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/Science magazine Excellence in Science Award, and in 2015 she was named Principal Investigator for a $50,000 National Science Foundation (NSF)--funded research project entitled “Functional Brain Networks Mediating a Negativity Bias in Children.”

13. Martin Reimann

Reimann was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1978. He holds a master’s degree in management from the Handelshochschule Leipzig (HHL; known in English as the Leipzig Graduate School of Management), a doctorate in political science from the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (TU Freiberg; known in English as the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology), a Habilitation in marketing, also from TU Freiberg, and a Ph.D. in Psychology, with special emphasis on brain and cognition, from the University of Southern California (USC). Reimann is currently Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

Reimann works at the intersection between the neuropsychology of motivation and marketing. He applies both experimental and quantitative methodologies to the investigation of how and why people consume product experiences, and form, maintain, and dissolve social relationships. A unifying idea underlying all of his varied research efforts may be expressed by the claim that consumption is deeply rooted in the neural emotional-motivational system, and that it can be usefully analyzed by a variety of empirical means, including observed behavior, self-report, and various brain-imaging techniques. For example, several of his investigations have elucidated the role that feelings of trust, hope, and desire play in consumers' choice of certain products over others.

Reimann’s work has a great deal of potential for practical economic and/or policy application. For example, in a recent finding, Reimann and his team found that wider implementation of the “happy meal approach” by restaurants (coupling a smaller-than-usual food portion with a non-food bonus product, for the same price) has significant potential to help address obesity as a public health issue, without resorting to paternalistic government regulation.

Reimann is the author or co-author of some 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, working papers, and book chapters (published and forthcoming), as well as the author of one book in German and the co-editor of another (see below). The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Reimann has published in, and reviewed for, a score of leading academic journals in the fields of psychology, economics, marketing, and neuroscience. He is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.

14. Stephan Schleim

Schleim was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1980. He obtained his master’s degree in philosophy, psychology, and computer science in 2005 from the University of Mainz. After doing research at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and at Cal-Tech in the US, he worked with the eminent neuroscientist Henrik Walter in the latter’s laboratory in Frankfurt, and later in Bonn. He obtained his Ph.D. in cognitive science in 2009 from Osnabrück University. During the 2012–2013 academic year, he held the newly created position of Professor of Neurophilosophy in the Research Center for Neurophilosophy and Ethics of Neurosciences at the University of Munich. Schleim is currently Associate Professor for Theory and History of Psychology at the Heymans Institute for Psychological Research at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands.

In both his teaching and his research, Schleim casts a very wide net, from moral theory, legal theory, philosophy of science, and the history and philosophy of psychology, to cognitive psychology, neuroscience, neuroethics, and neurolaw. He is perhaps best known for his work at the confluence of the disciplines of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. Working at this sensitive and crucially important crossroads, in both scholarly and popular modes, he has striven to introduce a note of caution into public discourse. For example, Schleim stresses the tendency of scientists to exaggerate the capabilities of their techniques (especially, fMRI) and to draw unwarranted conclusions with respect to the concepts of free will and moral responsibility. He has especially emphasized the need to guard against hasty generalizations from neuroscience results with respect to public policy in the field of criminal justice and elsewhere.

Schleim is author or co-author of over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as author, co-author, or co-editor of six books in German (see below). He has received a number of substantial research grants, and has helped to organize four major international academic conferences. Due to his significant interest in the public understanding of the wider implications brain research, Schleim lectures and blogs (on the SciLogs/Spektrum.de website, and elsewhere) frequently, and gives numerous interviews to the popular press, in German, English, and Dutch. His published work has been translated into Finnish, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

15. Danielle Sheypuk

Sheypuk was born in Jermyn, Pennsylvania, in 1978. She was born with spinal muscular atrophy and has used a motorized wheelchair ever since kindergarten. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology in 2000 from Marywood University, and her PhD, also in clinical psychology, in 2009 from the New School for Social Research in New York City. Sheypuk is currently in private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist.

As an experienced and successful private practitioner, Sheypuk specializes in the treatment of issues involving intimate and personal relationships, sexuality, and dating, especially as these relate to physically disabled persons. She has introduced a number of innovative practices into such therapy, including Skype — based treatment sessions that are engineered specifically to meet the needs of people with reduced mobility.

In addition to her private practice, Sheypuk is in demand as a public speaker. She has been invited to give lectures in numerous prestigious venues (some of the most notable among her recent academic talks are listed below). She has also authored two regular newspaper columns — “From Where I Sit,” for Quest (the magazine of the national Muscular Dystrophy Association), and “Ms. Wheelchair New York: On the Topic of Dating, Sex, and Relationships,” for Directions (the magazine of the national Spinal Muscular Atrophy Association) — as well as giving many interviews for the electronic media, including WCBS Radio (NYC), WNBC television’s Weekend Today and Nightly News programs (NYC), ABC News, and PBS NewsHour. Moreover, she has been profiled in numerous print and online publications, including New York Daily News, Huffington Post, the Daily Mail (in the UK), Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Marie Claire.

Sheypuk has received many honors, including being named Outstanding Woman with a Physical Disability in 2013 by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, receiving the 2015 Award of the Women’s Therapy Center Institute of New York City, and being given Marywood University’s Alumni Award of Excellence in Health and Human Services for 2014. Sheypuk is also a board member of disABILITYincites Partnership, a market-research advocacy firm which is currently pursuing a major study of the American disabled consumer.

16. Andrew R. Todd

Todd was born c. 1981. He holds a bachelor’s degree (2003) in psychology from Michigan State University, a master’s (2006) in social psychology from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. (2009) also in social psychology and also from Northwestern. After graduating, he pursued post-doctoral research at Social Cognition Center Cologne (SoCCCo) in Germany, and taught in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, as well as Director of the Social Inference Lab there.

Todd’s research focuses on the cognitive processes involved in social attention, categorization, evaluation, inference, and judgment, especially as these relate to social categorization, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. From a methodological perspective, he works in both traditional social-psychological and brain-based experimental modes. He is perhaps best known for his work on perspective-taking — that is, the imaginative identification with another person’s experience that is expressed by the traditional advice to “put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes” — and how such perspective-taking interacts with people’s social reasoning, and especially with their capacity to experience empathy. As a part of this overall project, Todd studies how various internal and external factors such as incidental emotions, social group membership, and other contextual factors (including ideologies) may influence one person’s ability to take another person’s perspective, and thus to understand what the other person sees, believes, wants, and feels.

Todd is author or co-author of some 34 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters (several of the most important of which are listed below). He has also made nearly 40 conference presentations, and delivered over 20 invited talks. He has acted as reviewer for some 25 academic journals, and currently serves on the editorial board of Social Cognition, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. His many awards and honors include being elected a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology in 2014, and winning the SAGE Young Scholar Award bestowed by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2017.

17. Hale Uşak-Şahin

Uşak-Şahin (née Şahin) was born in Bad Ischl, Austria, in 1978, to Turkish immigrant parents. She received her training in clinical psychology and psychoanalysis in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Innsbruck. Her thesis, which she completed in 2004, was entitled Die Fremde wird die Heimat: Zur Psychologie der Migration [Abroad Becomes Home: Towards a Psychology of Migration]. In it, Uşak-Şahin gathered the personal histories of women who had been among the first, pioneering generation of Turkish guest workers who arrived Austria during the 1970s.

Uşak-Şahin is a practicing clinician whose work is primarily focused on the ethno-psychoanalysis and personal histories of migrant women. She has been resident in the Zentrum für psychosoziale Gesundheit [Center for Psychosocial Health] at Sonnenpark Lans, a private rehab clinic in Lans, a village near Innsbruck. She currently works with children and families of Turkish descent who find themselves in conflict and emergency situations, under the auspices of Heilpädagogische Familien [Special Education Families], a non-profit organization located in Innsbruck that works with the government of Tyrol Province to provide special education, rehabilitation, and support services to children and youth living in Upper Austria.

Uşak-Şahin is author or co-author of three books (see below). She also received the 2006 AK-Science Award bestowed annually by the Upper Austrian Arbeitkammer [Chamber of Salaried and Wage-earning Employees] in recognition of the best University of Innsbruck thesis on the lives and circumstances of working-class people, or the history of the worker’s movement in Austria. The award especially cited the “courage and force” with which Uşak-Şahin illustrated the lives of migrant women “under the most difficult conditions.”[5]

18. Thomas L. Webb

Webb was born in the United Kingdom in 1978. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Sheffield, a master’s in research methods for psychology from the University of Bristol, and a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Sheffield. Webb is currently Reader in Psychology at the University of Sheffield.

Webb is a social psychologist who is interested in emotional self-regulation and behavior change. More specifically, he studies how people alter their behavior in order to achieve their goals and as a result of achieving them. Webb points out that motivation has traditionally been considered the key to changing people’s behavior, but that while incentives may change people’s intentions, changing our intentions is seldom enough to have a major impact on changing our behavior. In short, Webb notes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions."[6]

Webb’s research also focuses on the determinants and consequences of monitoring goal progress, considered as a way of boosting motivation. This involves exploring various strategies for monitoring progress towards one’s goals, and for forming specific plans — known as “implementation intentions” — that connect suitable opportunities to act with appropriate responses to those opportunities.

Webb is author or co-author of about 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. A past Associate Editor of the European Journal of Social Psychology and Frontiers in Personality and Social Psychology, he is currently Associate Editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology and sits on the editorial board of Psychological Bulletin, Cognition & Emotion, the British Journal of Health Psychology, Psychology & Health, Health Psychology Review, and Motivation and Emotion. Webb also writes a regular blog for Psychology Today’s website entitled “The Road to Hell.”

19. Marina Weisband

Weisband was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then still a part of the USSR), in 1987. Her family, which is Jewish, emigrated to Germany when she was six years old. She graduated from high school in Wuppertal in 2006, and received her master’s degree in psychology in 2013 from the University of Munster.

Weisband is a licensed clinical psychologist who is active in politics and political education. She is also a writer, speaker, and blogger who focuses on the fields of political education and participation, privacy, the media, the digital society, and the roles of all of the foregoing in the current political crisis, including conflict situations in the post-Soviet regions.

Weisband first came to public attention through her role as Political Director of Germany’s new, Internet-based Pirate Party, founded in 2006. Originally intended to represent the interests of young people raised with the Internet (“digital natives”), the party broadened its appeal by adopting (mostly, but not exclusively, progressive) positions on a wider spectrum of social and political issues, emphasizing the issue of political transparency, and advocating the development of alternative forms of democracy. At the zenith of their popularity in 2012, the Pirates won parliamentary elections in four of the German Länder (states), and even sent representatives to the European Parliament. However, their share of the electorate declined in subsequent elections, and they do not currently hold positions in any state parliament or in Brussels. Weisband, who joined the Pirates in 2009 and was highly visible during the 2011 elections, broke with the party in 2012 over what she perceived as its failure to distance itself from anti-Semitism and other extremist positions.[7]

Since 2014, Weisband has been heavily involved in the founding and development of aula, a “liquid democracy”[8] Internet platform designed to encourage student participation in politics. In 2018, Weisband announced that she had accepted a new job as a consultant for the German Green Party; she will be especially involved in developing the Greens' policies in the fields of education and digitization.[9]

20. Sean D. Young

Young was born in 1979. He holds a master’s degree (2005) in health services research and a Ph.D. (2008) in behavioral psychology, both from Stanford University. He is currently Associate Professor in-Residence and member of the Research Faculty with the Department of Family Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Young is also Executive Director of both the University of California System’s Institute for Prediction Technology (UCIPT) and UCLA’s Center for Digital Behavior, as well as a Core Scientist with UCLA’s Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment Services (CHIPTS).

Young’s research focuses on the interface between public health and technology. More specifically, he has been involved in two principal projects: (1) using “Big Data” (Internet-based data-mining, especially via social media) to monitor and predict the course of a variety of public health problems, including HIV infection, drug addiction, and crime; and (2) designing and testing new technologies to help address public health and medical issues among at-risk populations, including African-Americans, Latinos, and gay men.

In addition to these primary research endeavors, Young has been involved in a number of other public health — related research and practical application efforts, including chairing a recent conference jointly sponsored by UCIPT and the California Highway Patrol association on the implications of California’s new marijuana law for traffic safety; designing a technology platform for improving individuals' behavioral and mental health, which is currently being tested among UCLA Health System patients; and developing a course on how to build technologies to address global health- and poverty-related issues quickly and at low cost.

Young is author or co-author of more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He has also received over 30 research grants and awards, has acted as reviewer for around 20 professional journals, and has been invited to give presentations or lectures at some 60 academic conferences. In 2017, Young published a popular book (see below) on the most effective methods for changing one’s own behavior in a lasting way.

Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed reading about the 20 young psychologists profiled in our list. If nothing else, you can see from it how broad the field of psychology really is today — in terms of geography, of fields of specialization, and of career paths available to those who major in the field or go on to take a higher degree in it.

If you are thinking that you might be interested in studying psychology yourself, here is some additional information you might find useful.

First, when searching for information about specific degree programs in psychology, you should keep in mind that there are a wide variety of sub-fields. Eventually, you will need to specialize in one or more of them. Therefore, as you gather information about specific programs at particular schools, keep in mind the area(s) of specialization that you think you might be especially interested in. You will want to be sure to pick a school that provides adequate coursework in those sub-fields.

Here are some of the major sub-fields (and sub-sub-fields) that fall under the wide umbrella of academic psychology:

  • Clinical psychology (Personality psychology; Counseling psychology; Psychotherapy; Psychiatry [MD required])
  • Developmental psychology (Child psychology)
  • Social psychology
  • Cognitive psychology (Psycholinguistics; Behavioral economics)
  • Biological psychology (Comparative psychology; Evolutionary psychology)
  • Cognitive neuroscience

[Note: There may be different ways of naming the same or similar sub-fields; these are only a sampling of the sub-fields out there; and should you choose, you could study more than one sub-field, in all sorts of different combinations.]

Finally, here are some specific programs that we believe are worthy of your consideration:

To those of you who wish to pursue your own study of the fascinating field of psychology — we wish you the very best of luck!

Addendum: Sociological Changes Revealed

TheBestSchools.org ran an article on The 50 Most Influential Living Psychologists in the World.

The article garnered attention, and readers took time to comment. Many perceived a fault with the list. Namely, it was too white, and also too male.

The first problem — no people of color on the list — is indeed troubling. The under- (or, rather, non-) representation of this population on our list reflects a deep fault line running throughout American society. African-Americans, Hispanics, and others are under-represented in the higher echelons of nearly all the professions in this country: in most disciplines of academia, to be sure, but equally (or more so) in medicine, the law, the judiciary, the media, government, corporate governance, the financial sector — and so on. We must all reflect seriously upon why this is so, and on what can and should be done to remedy the issue. This is a far-reaching problem with many complicated historical, social, and political dimensions. While we cannot undertake this daunting task here, we intend to revisit this issue on another occasion, when it can be addressed with the thoroughness demanded.

For now, we will focus on the other problem — the under-representation of women. The under-representation on the earlier list was far less severe than was the case with people of color. After all, 11 out of 50, or 22%, of the psychologists on our earlier list were women. These senior scholars had made a substantial impact on their field to be included on our list, which means they had time to build a career. And, in fact, the average age of just the women on the earlier list was 68 years of age (the two most-senior scholars were in their 80s). In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, when the women on the earlier list were coming of age academically, being female was no absolute bar to a high-visibility career in psychology. (It may be that psychology was less hostile to women even back then than some other academic disciplines one might name.)

To be sure, 22% is still a long way from equal representation of a group that constitutes half of the population! Nor is there doubt that the 11 women on the list were at such a disadvantage to their male peers that what they accomplished is all the more impressive in view of the additional emotional (and even financial) price they paid to pursue a career in a traditionally male-dominated field.

At any rate, we wondered just how much this might have changed in time. So, we compiled a list of psychologists born in 1978 or later. If, as we hoped and expected, coming of age academically was a substantially different experience for women in the 2000s than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, then the proportion of women on the new list ought to increase substantially. And — sure enough — nine women made our new list of 20 psychologists, or 45% of the total. By this measure, not only has the percentage of high-contributing women in the younger cohort more than doubled over the past 30 years, but if these trends hold over the next 30 years, then we should see something approaching parity between the sexes at the pinnacle of the profession in all age groups.

Notes

1. Belle Derks, Colette Van Laar, and Naomi Ellemers, “The Queen Bee Phenomenon: Why Women Leaders Distance Themselves from Junior Women,” Leadership Quarterly, 2016, 27: 456–469.

2. Klea Faniko, Naomi Ellemers, and Belle Derks, “Queen Bees and Alpha Males: Are Successful Women More Competitive Than Successful Men?,” European Journal of Social Psychology, 2016, 46: 903–913.

3. Klea Faniko, Naomi Ellemers, Belle Derks, and Fabio Lorenzi-Cioldi, “Nothing Changes, Really: Why Women Who Break Through the Glass Ceiling End Up Reinforcing It,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2017, 43: 638–651.

4. “dr Mateusz Grzesiak – laureat statuetki „Optymista Roku 2017” [Dr. Mateusz Grzesiak — Winner of the 2017 “Optimist of the Year” Statuette] (Gala.pl, January 20, 2017).

5. Hale Şahin (deAcademic website, 2017).

6. See Webb’s Academic Website.

7. Annett Meiritz and Fabian Reinbold, “Unsere Ideen versinken in Müll und Dreck” [Our Ideas Are Sinking in Garbage and Filth] (Spiegel Online, April 20, 2012).

8. “Liquid Democracy” (P2P Foundation wiki, 2014).

9. “Ex-Piratin Weisband arbeitet für Grüne” [Ex-Pirate Weisband is Working for the Greens] (Spiegel Online, May 19, 2018).

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