Influential Female Psychologists: Contributions & History

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: New Psychology: Definition, History & Wilhelm Wundt

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Women in Psychology
  • 0:41 Karen Horney & Melanie Klein
  • 1:53 Anna Freud & Mary Ainsworth
  • 3:07 Sandra Bem & Eleanor Maccoby
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning about women in psychology is an important part of understanding the history of the field and its most important influences. This lesson gives you an overview of some of the most influential female psychologists.

Women in Psychology

When we think of famous psychologists, it is possible that few women will be on our lists. However, this has more to do with the fact that women are underrepresented in the history of many academic disciplines than with actual contributions. In fact, many influential women have contributed to the development of psychology. This lesson will help you close the historical gap by telling you about women who have played important roles throughout the history of psychology. You will learn about six influential female psychologists, their ideas, and the ways that they contributed to the field.

Karen Horney & Melanie Klein

Karen Horney was born in 1885 in Germany and later moved to the United States. Trained as a psychoanalyst, or a psychologist following Freud's theory of the unconscious, she broke with dogmatic Freudian thought later in her career. In particular, Horney is known for founding feminist psychology, a woman-oriented repudiation of Freud's theory of penis envy. She did not believe that men and women had inherent psychological differences but, rather, believed that these differences could usually be attributed to society and culture.

Melanie Klein, born in 1882, was also a well-known psychoanalyst who made profound contributions to the application of psychoanalysis to work with children. Klein believed that children should be analyzed using play techniques, and she thought that most of Sigmund Freud's theories regarding infantile sexuality could be applied to helping children overcome neurosis and deal with difficult symptoms. Klein famously developed the idea of projective identification, in which people play out their emotional experiences on others and, thus, come to know more about their unconscious. Klein also believed in the importance of the clinician monitoring effect of patients as a way of understanding their early experiences.

Anna Freud & Mary Ainsworth

Sigmund Freud's youngest daughter, Anna Freud, born in 1895, had a powerful influence on the development of psychoanalysis and particularly the ways that it was used to treat children. She treated children who were traumatized by loss and violence during World War II, theorizing that children required psychologists who could act as strong pedagogical figures and moral models. Anna Freud lectured frequently for teachers and parents, bringing psychoanalytic theory into the educational realm. She is also known for her ideas about defense mechanisms. She believed that much of human psychology had to do with the structures people create to defend themselves against difficult feelings.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account