By Kristen Fescoe
Published December 2015

In developing this list of the 100 greatest psychology books of all time, we’ve tried to include something for everyone who’s interested in this field – from seasoned professionals, to first-year psychology majors, to interested laypeople.

100 Greatest Psychology Books of All Time

59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute

59-Seconds-Change-Your-Life-in-Under-a-Minute-Best-Psychology-BookRichard Wiseman

Date of Publication: 2010

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In 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute psychologist and best-selling author Richard Wiseman outlines a myth dispelling alternative to the self-help movement. His book is filled with tips and tricks to improve your life, all stemming from solid scientific data. What led to the creation of this work was Wiseman’s troubled realization that the self-help industry often endorses exercises that minimize motivation, interfere with relationships, and limit creativity. 59 Seconds works against these limitations, uniting scientific advice can help individuals in need change their life almost immediately. The book works as a guide to help the reader become more decisive, more creative, more engaged, and generally happier. Topics ranging from mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, resilience to relationships, are outlined with research supporting the new science of “rapid change.” The motto of the book, asserted by the author is “Think a little, change a lot.”

A Guide to Rational Living

A-Guide-to-Rational-Living-Best-Psychology-BookAlbert Ellis, Robert A. Harper and Melvin Powers

Date of Publication: 1975

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Among all the books on this list, A Guide To Rational Living is one of the most popular books in the self-help/popular psychology category, selling over a million and a half copies since its publication. In this book, world-renowned psychologist Albert Ellis, along with colleagues Robert Harper and Melvin Powers, brought to public attention a new form of psychology called ‘rational emotive therapy’ (RET). This theory violated decades of traditional Freudian psychoanalysis and sparked a revolution in the field of psychology. RET states that emotions do not stem from repressed desires and needs, but from our thoughts, ideas, attitudes and beliefs. The authors argue that the mysteries of the unconscious are not the most impacting things to our psychological health. This new mode of thinking was a drastic change from what had been supported for such a long period of time. This work stemmed from Ellis’ own work in the Freudian psychoanalytical tradition. He eventually concluded that digging into a person’s history and problems did not prove to have much positive effect. His focus on ‘what actually worked’ led him to the view that thoughts generate emotions, not the other way around. This work became the foundation  Cognitive Psychology field.

A Theory of Human Motivation

A-Theory-of-Human-Motivation-Best-Psychology-BookAbraham H. Maslow

Date of Publication: 1943

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Abraham Maslow is most widely known for his psychological theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  He argues that there are levels of human needs and the most basic need must be met before a person can meet the next higher level need. In A Theory of Human Motivation Maslow presents this hierarchical structure. The work was first published in the form of a paper, and eventually a longer text format, which included his observations of humans’ inborn curiosity. His theories are similar to other theories of human developmental psychology in that he focuses on the stages of growth in humans. Maslow describes needs in his hierarchy, including “Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence,” each of which is a pattern of human motivations that are graduated through once one need is met.  Maslow chose to study what he called “exemplary people” such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or “neurotic” people to draw his scientific conclusions.

An Introduction to the History of Psychology

An-Introduction-To-The-History-of-Psychology-Best-Psychology-BookB.R Hergenhahn and Tracy Henley

Date of Publication: 2013

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An Introduction to the History of Psychology is not the traditional introductory psychology text. This book begins engaging the student with the early puzzle to many Greek philosophers – dreams. This puzzle created a great number of elaborate theories, each attempting to explain human memory and perception. One theory put forth by French philosopher Descartes explained that the brain is filled with “animal spirits.” This seventh edition of the text asserts that most of the interests of modern psychologists are expressions of themes and theories that have been a part of psychology for hundreds of years. The textbook includes many photographs and academic devices, complete with biographical information on the important figures in psychology. Students are immediately engaged to expand their understanding of each chapter. This book can be used in unison with the InfoTrac Student Collection.

Art and Artist

Art-And-Artist-Best-Psychology-BooksOtto Rank

Date of Publication: 1932

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Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher, and friend and colleague of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The two worked together closely for 20 years, during which time Rank wrote numerous books and papers. His best known work, Art and Artist ,  explores the human need to create, not just in terms of individual works of art, but also in larger forms such as religion, mythology, and social institutions. The book is grounded in Rank’s extensive understanding of psychology and psychoanalysis, covering a wide range of areas including anthropology and cultural history, as well as psychology, as it explores the complexities of human nature.

Authentic Happiness
Authentic-Happiness-Best-Psychology-BookMartin Seligman

Date of Publication: 2004

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Martin Seligman is a member of an elite group composed of the most renowned psychologists in the world. In this book, he asserts that the way to happiness might be easier than you think. He sets out to prove that happiness is more a product of internal rather than external conditions. This work allows the reader to develop the elements of life that we often overlook. Seligman proposes that real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on individual personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. He helps readers identify their strengths and use them to their fullest.

Behaviorism

Behaviorism-Best-Psychology-BookJohn B. Watson

Date of Publication: 1924

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John Watson was an American psychologist who gained recognition when he published his theory of behaviorism, which quickly became the dominant mode of thinking in the field of psychology during the 1920s and 1930s. While teaching at Johns Hopkins University, he authored a number of important works, including Psychology From the Standpoint of a Behaviorist and Behaviorism. These works have been noted by many in the field as creating possibly the most significant movement in 20th century psychology. In 1925 Watson wrote, “Two opposed points of view are still dominant in American psychological thinking: introspective or subjective psychology, and behaviorism or objective psychology.” The observation still rings true to this day. His work was in reaction to psychology’s emphasis on feelings and introspection, and the general lack of precise categories at the time. He proposed a methodological approach to psychological disorders that could be more coherent, precise, and empirical. He maintained that consciousness is not a functional hypothesis for human difficulty; only through the observation of behavior could any hypothesis be proposed.

Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments

Behind-the-Shock-Machine-Best-Psychology-BookGina Perry

Date of Publication: 2013

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Stanley Milgram conducted  controversial psychological experiments in the early 1960’s. In his study on obedience he asked research participants to administer a shock to  another participant in the study. This “other participant” was an actor, but the participant was unaware that they were a part of the contrived situation. The frightening part of this study was the high percentage  of people who administered a potentially deadly shock to a screaming participant just because an authority figure told them to. This 2013 book investigates the full story of this experiment and its astounding consequences. Perry includes interviews with the original participants, many of whom are still haunted by what they did. The book looks into Milgram’s personal archive, unveiling an even more troubling picture of these experiments than was originally presented by Milgram. Through her research, Perry questions the validity of the statistics and the claims that the experiment revealed something essential about human nature. This work details the remarkable story of ambition and how an experiment shaped a generation.

Beyond Culture

Beyond-Culture-Best-Psychology-BookEdward T. Hall

Date of Publication: 1976

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In Beyond Culture Edward Hall shows the reader new, interesting ways of considering and perceiving our human experience. He also shows us how to reevaluate our values. Throughout this book, the author delves into the cross-cultural implications of human thoughts and behavior. Hall identifies the misconception of “extension transference” as a major source of flawed thinking in all areas of culture. The goal of this work is to create a path to improved intercultural communication.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

blink-Best-Psychology-BookMalcolm Gladwell

Date of Publication: 2007

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  In this book, Gladwell discusses how we think without thinking, and how choices that appear to be made instantaneously are not as simple as they might seem. Some of the important questions posed and addressed in this book include:

  • Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept?
  • Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error?
  • How do our brains really work in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom?
  • Why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?

The book introduces the reader to a psychologist who has developed the ability to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple. We also meet a tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball. The book is a thorough investigation of the advantages and disadvantages to our tendency to “blink” through our decisions.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles For Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Brain-Rules-Best-Psychology-BookJohn Medina

Date of Publication: 2009

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Deceptively simple at first glance, this book combines academic knowledge and research and applies it to practical daily life.  It outlines scientifically grounded theories of how to approach life and achieve greater success. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, includes a section at each chapter’s end in which he outlines how to apply the chapter’s principles to your everyday life. While this does not cater strongly to the scientific reader, this makes it more approachable for the everyday reader. The material within each chapter is concrete, well-researched and clearly written. This is an excellent book for those who are looking for a basic explanation of basic brain functioning and the field of psychology.

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince

Brainfluence-Best-Psychology-BooksRoger Dooley

Date of Publication: 2011

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In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in interest in the field of neuroscience. While it sounds like a highly specialized area, it’s actually a broad field that can be applied to education, business and daily personal interactions. In this book, Dooley outlines real-world ways to apply neuroscience and behavior research in the business setting. Brainfluence shows how to apply complex neuroscience and behavioral topics to more effectively market to consumers by investigating their decision-making patters. He has coined this decision-making “neuromarketing”, which studies how the brain responds to different cognitive and sensory marketing stimuli. The book is full of quick and easy applications offered in 60 concise chapters. Included are key strategies for targeting consumers through in-person sales, online and print ads, and other marketing media.

CLEP Introductory Psychology Book with Online CLEP Test Preparation Second Edition

CLEP-Introductory-Psychology-Book-Best-Psychology-BookDon J. Sharpsteen

Date of Publication: 2012

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The CLEP Introductory Psychology Book is not your average Psych 101 book. This introductory textbook was written with a different kind of psychology student in mind. CLEP stands for College-Level Examination Program. The College Board, the group of individuals who created the AP program and the SAT program, developed this unique program. The CLEP program has been the most widely trusted credit-by-examination program for more than 40 years, accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities and administered in over 1,800 test centers. This exam is an excellent option for non-traditional students, specifically those serving in the military. This textbook is designed to offer students training in the area of introductory psychology. The text covers a high percentage of the topics included on the test and was created for use with the Online CLEP Test Preparation system. This distinctive introductory psychology textbook is an excellent option for those seeking a different kind of psychology education.

Civilization and Its Discontents

Civilization-and-Its-Discontents-Best-Psychology-BookSigmund Freud

Date of Publication: 1930

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Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, authored a number of pioneering works in the field. Among his most famous is  Civilization and Its Discontents. It has been praised, criticized, condemned, interpreted, and reinterpreted. The 1930 work addresses  several questions regarding fundamental human society, including: What influences led to the creation of civilization? Why and how did it come to be? Freud considers the incompatibility of civilization and individual happiness, and the tensions between the claims of society and the individual. He feels that one of society’s greatest dangers is “civilized” sexual morality. The book was re-released in 1961 with an introduction by the culture critic and writer Christopher Hitchens as well a biographical note on Freud by Peter Gay.

Conditioned Reflexes

Conditioned-Reflexes-Best-Psychology-BookIvan Pavlov

Date of Publication: 1927

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Most psychology students and professionals have spent time learning about Ivan Pavlov’s study of dog salivation, which led to his ground-breaking theories on conditioning and learned responses. In this book, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist submits a detailed, comprehensive, accessible explanation of his pioneering work in experimental psychology. Pavlov highlights the technical manner in which he formulated experiments and controls, his famous experiments, observations on the formation of conditioned reflexes, external and internal reflex inhibitions, the function of cerebral hemispheres and cortex, and  more. The text is concise,  robust and includes a number of diagrams and renderings.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

David-And-Goliath-Best-Psychology-BookMalcolm Gladwell

Date of Publication: 2013

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In David and Goliath,  Gladwell asks the reader to think about obstacles and disadvantages and how we react to them. He then asks us to consider a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, to suffer from a disability, to lose  someone close to us, or endure a similar setback. He examines and challenges the concept of “advantage” and “disadvantage.” Beginning story of David and Goliath, Gladwell moves through history with figures such as Lawrence of Arabia and Martin Luther King Jr.  He  shows how those who have been labeled “underdogs” use that status to their advantage and often prevail using intelligence, wit or surprise. He argues that many academic “advantages,” such as getting into an Ivy League school, have disadvantages, whereas being a “big fish in a small pond” at a less prestigious school can lead to higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and a better chance of success in later life. Gladwell even goes so far as to promote the idea of a “desirable difficulty,” such as dyslexia, might force the dyslexic to develop better listening and creative problem-solving skills. While some critics have complained that the book lacks empirical support, the theories put forth in the book are thought-provoking.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5

DSM-V-Best-Psychology-BookAmerican Psychiatric Association

Date of Publication: 2013

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The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is widely used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. This listing is the product of more than 10 years of study by hundreds of international experts in many areas of mental health. This book is the authoritative work for defining and classifying mental disorders to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research. The manual creates a common language for clinicians involved in the diagnosis of mental disorders, including concise and specific criteria used to assess symptom presentations in a variety of clinical settings. The DSM-V is the most current and important resource for clinical practice available. It can be used by physicians and health professionals, including psychologists, counselors, nurses, and occupational and rehabilitation therapists, as well as social workers and forensic and legal specialists.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive-Best-Psychology-BookDaniel Pink

Date of Publication: 2011

While many people believe that the most effective way to motivate others is with a reward, author and psychologist Daniel Pink says that is flawed logic. In this stimulating work, Pink claims that the secret to optimal performance and personal satisfaction is the instinctive need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. The book uses four decades of empirical research on human motivation to explain the mismatch between what science knows and what business does, and how this affects people on a deep level. He outlines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose–and offers creative techniques for putting these into action. This is a book for professionals and lay persons to help change how we think and transform how we live.

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Educating the Human Brain
Educating-the-Human-Brain-Best-Psychology-Book

Michael I. Posner and Mary K. Rothbart

Date of Publication: 2006

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Educating the Human Brain is the culmination of a quarter century of  research on the early development of attention and self regulation in infants and young children. It is a thorough investigation of the brain areas underlying regulatory networks, how they intertwine, and how genes and experience affect development. References are made to the most modern techniques in cognitive and temperament measurement, neuroimaging, and molecular genetics. The book combines investigations of the neural networks in all humans with the study of individual differences. The authors explain complex brain functions that are required for learning. Some of these functions include attending to information; controlling attention through effort; regulating the interplay of emotion with cognition; and coding, organizing, and retrieving information. These elements are seamlessly tied back to the ways in which brain development support school readiness, literacy, numeracy, and expertise. This book is useful for neuroscientists, students, developmental and educational psychologists and anyone interested in the latest brain research.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Emotional Intelligence-Why-It-Can-Matter-More-Than-IQ-Best-Psychology-BookDaniel Goleman

Date of Publication: 2005

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When the idea of an IQ, or intelligent quotient, first came to light it was considered the standard . Over the years there has been a gradual fading of the IQ phenomenon in favor of  EQ — or emotional intelligence. Psychological tests show that EQ is a better determinant of personal success and overall mental health than IQ. Emotional intelligence is our ability to identify and handle both our own emotions and deal with the emotions of others. This book explains the theory of the EQ and argues that it is a better standard than the IQ measure.

Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

Emotions-Revealed-Best-Psychology-BookPaul Ekman

Date of Publication: 2003

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Psychologist Paul Ekman outlines the foundations of our emotions: anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and happiness, and shows how they are displayed on our faces, offering signals to those who can identify the clues. The book explains Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System, which offers powerful training that helps those trained to “see” the feelings on the faces of loved ones, peers, and strangers. Ekman condenses years of extensive research into a practical, engaging guide to reading the emotions of those around us. He answers questions such as: How does our body signal to others whether we are slightly sad or anguished, peeved or enraged? Can we learn to distinguish between a polite and genuine smile? Can we ever truly control our emotions? The updated edition includes a new chapter on emotions and lying. The author also talks about security and terrorism as well as gut decisions, making Emotions Revealed an important resource for the emotional modern world.

Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Fascinate-Your-7-Triggers-to-Persuasion-and-Captivation-Best-Psychology-BookSally Hogshead

Date of Publication: 2010

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Sally Hogshead is well known as a public speaker and successful advertising executive. In this quintessential guide she explores one of the most influential ways to attract attention and impact the behavior of others using the tool of fascination. She also writes about the ways in which businesses, products, and ideas can become irresistible to consumers. This book touches upon a range of disciplines, including neurobiology, psychology, and evolutionary anthropology.  Hogshead says that notable and interesting patterns all revolve around the element of fascination, the most powerful way to capture an audience and influence behavior. This book investigates the principles behind fascination and explores how those insights can influence a number of issues such as brand dedication and where you live and work. She outlines what she calls the seven languages of fascination—power, passion, innovation, alarm, mystique, prestige, and alert. She says almost anyone can use these triggers to make products, messages, and services more fascinating, and therefore more successful.

Flow: The Psychology Of Happiness

Flow-The-Psychology-Of-Happiness-Best-Psychology-BookMihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Date of Publication: 2008

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This book examines what makes people truly happy.  The author sorts through decades of research regarding how happiness is affected by the work we commit ourselves to. He hypothesizes that happiness is reached through a mental state he calls Flow. This is a state where the high skill level of the individual is met with appropriately challenging work. For example, a mathematician solving a perplexing problem, or an artist bringing her conception to life through seemingly perfect brush strokes. Professionals in the field as well as those seeking answers to what makes us happy will enjoy this book.

Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook

Food-and-Addiction-A-Comprehensive-Handbook-Best-Psychology-BookKelly D. Brownell and Mark S. Gold

Date of Publication: 2014

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This book is a unique and innovative scientific approach to the issue of food and addiction. Using various disciplines, the authors develop a framework for this quickly advancing field to show what needs to change in science and public policy. By assembling scientists and policy makers from fields such as nutrition, addiction, psychology, epidemiology, and public health the book explores and analyzes the evidence for the addictive properties of food. The book provides comprehensive coverage of the areas relevant to food and addiction, from rudimentary background information on topics like food intake, metabolism, and environmental risk factors for obesity, to more advanced diagnostic criteria for food addiction, the evolutionary underpinnings of eating addictions, and behavioral and pharmacologic interventions.

Hypnosis In The Relief Of Pain

Hypnosis-In-The-Relief-Of-Pain-Best-Psychology-BookErnest R. Hilgard and Josephine R. Hilgard

Date of Publication: 1975

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Hypnosis In The Relief Of Pain is a masterful work on the fascinating topic of hypnosis as an alternative to traditional pain remedies. It is written by a husband and wife duo of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, both of whom are practitioners and researchers. The Hilgards illustrate how hypnosis can vastly alleviate the pain of childbirth, cancer, medical or dental surgery, burns, accidental injuries, and other chronic syndromes. There are more than 600 references regarding modern research into the mechanisms of pain, creating a better understanding of both the findings and the limitations of available scientific data. The authors address a range of topics regarding hypnosis and pain, ranging from an historical review to a discussion of future areas for investigation. They examine the controversy surrounding the nature of hypnosis, including whether it is an altered state of consciousness or a pattern of behavior agreed upon by subject and hypnotist. Even with a vast amount of data, the book is clear and non-technical, appealing to professionals in the area of pain reduction as well as lay people. Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain is an honest and comprehensive investigation of what role hypnosis can play in pain reduction and management, with the possibility of making a significant impact in the natural healing movement.

Identity and the Life Cycle

Identity-and-the-Life-Cycle-Best-Psychology-BookErik Ericson

Date of Publication: 1959

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Erik Erikson was one of the most remarkable psychologists of his time, offering insights into the relationship of the “life history.” In Identity and the Life Cycle Erikson collected three early papers that are considered to be the best compilation of his theories.  Ego Development and Historical Change is a selection of comprehensive notes that Erikson wrote to relay observations of groups studied on field trips and on children studied longitudinally and clinically. In Growth and Crises of the Health Personality Erikson moves adolescence into the critical stages of the whole life cycle.  In the third essay, Erikson deals with “The Problem of Ego Identity” from biographical, clinical, and social points of view. These three essays when combined summarize Erikson’s great works.

Influence: Science and Practice

influence-science-and-practice-Best-Psychology-BookRobert B. Cialdini

Date of Publication: 2008

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This book on compliance remains one of the most cited texts in this area of psychological study. Although a reference book, it is written in a narrative style that pairs well with scholarly research. The author incorporates evidence from research with the methods and tactics he collected while worked as a salesperson, fundraiser, advertiser, and in otherpositions inside organizations that commonly use compliance tactics. This text is commonly used in college courses on this topic, as well as  by individuals in the business world. The text organizes compliance techniques into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behavior: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

Introduction to Psychology 10th Edition

Introduction-to-Psychology-Best-Psychology-BookJames W. Kalat

Date of Publication: 2013

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This is one of the most widely used introductory psychology textbooks.  Now in its 13th edition, the book encourages students to question the information they are given and ask the important questions, “How was this conclusion reached?” and “Does the evidence really support it?” This helps students to become amateur scientists. In this highly student-praised book, the author, a North Carolina State University professor, challenges the readers’ preconceptions about psychology to allow them to become  more informed consumers of information throughout their college experience as well as in post-college life. Kalat uses a humorous writing style and hands-on learning “Try It Yourself” exercises throughout the book. Students using this introductory psychology text can take advantage of the InfoTrac Student Collection.

Introduction to Psychology 10th Edition

introduction-to-psychology-plotnik-best-psychology-booksRod Plotnik and Haig Kouyoumdjian

Date of Publication: 2013

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While many introductory course books tend to be dry and boring, this book features a look and style of a magazine or graphic novel. Plotnik’s 10th edition of Introduction to Psychology draws students in immediately and shows just how interesting the study of psychology can be. The book uses a modular, visual approach to outline the basic tenets of  psychology. The innovative “visual” or “magazine” style approach allows even the most challenging concepts to be viewed as both engaging and entertaining. The entire book has been individually planned, written, and formatted to be effective in combining the use of Visual Cues, which helps students better absorb the information. This latest update uses the psychological concept of “chunking,” a method of taking a larger concept and breaking it into smaller, more easily digestible sections that enable students to learn at a pace suitedto their needs. Students learning from this text also have access to the InfoTrac Student Collection.

Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior with Concept Maps and Reviews

Introduction-to-Psychology-Gateways-to-Mind-and-Behavior-with-Concept-Maps-and-Reviews-13th-Edition-Coon-Best-Psychology-BooksDennis Coon and John O. Mitterer

Date of Publication: 2012

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This highly acclaimed introductory psychology textbook was co-written by authors who have received an increasing number of  rave reviews from instructors and students with each succeeding edition. The 13th edition of Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior with Concept Maps and Reviews was designed to grab the attention of even the most difficult to reach college students. This edition continues to use an innovative integration of the proven-effective SQ4R learning system (Survey, Question, Read, Reflect, Review, Recite), which increases critical thinking skills, while guiding students to a greater understanding of psychology’s wide-ranging concepts topics. In each exciting chapter, these active learning tools are paired with examples, discussions of positive psychology, pioneering coverage of the field’s new research findings, and top-notch media resources. This combination makes the study of psychology interesting, relevant, and most importantly, accessible.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

made-to-stick-Best-Psychology-BookChip Heath and Dan Heath

Date of Publication: 2007

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The Heath Brothers have co-authored a number of books in the field of psychology, several of which are included on this list. While, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die initially looks like a book only for those interested in marketing and advertising, there is much more to this work. The framework of the book is based in the famous Mark Twain quote, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” The key question being reviewed is why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, the Heath brothers take on these important questions. The book outlines the anatomy of ideas that stick and explains how to make ideas stickier by applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”  Made to Stick explains the principles of applying these rules to making our own messages stick, and the science underlying this principle.

Man and His Symbols

man-and-his-symbols-Best-Psychology-BookCarl Gustav Jung

Date of Publication: 1968

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Jung was Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work remains influential not only in this field but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies.   Man and His Symbols, was just one of his many published works. In this book, different sections introduce the reader to the unconscious,  archetypes, symbols  and to  dreams by which the unconscious communicates.  Chapters illustrate several archetypal patterns in ancient mythology, folk legend, and primitive ritual. “The Process of Individuation,” describes how the conscious and the unconscious within the individual learn to know, respect, and accommodate one another. In this pioneering book on the human mind, Jung summed up his life’s work as a leading researcher on the individual and collective unconscious.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex

Men-Are-from-Mars-Women-Are-from-Venus-Best-Psychology-BookJohn Gray

Date of Publication: 1999

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Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex is likely the most well-known, long-standing relationship guide to date. Originally published in 1999 to wide-acclaim, the #1 New York Times bestseller has been re-published numerous times. This revolutionary book helps men and women better understand the opposite sex. Dr. John Gray offers a usable, proven method for men and women to improve their communication by recognizing the differences between their needs, desires, and behaviors. This relationship guide helps couples and individuals reach a higher level of understanding of the opposite sex, while strengthening and nurturing relationships.

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace In a Frantic World

Mindfulness-Best-Psychology-BookMark Williams and Danny Penman

Date of Publication: 2011

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This book explores just how frantic our world can be. It highlights how easy it is to get lost in the fast pace of life around us and out of our control. It is this lack of control over momentary occurrences that can limit our true happiness.  The authors  show the reader how to exist in a state of tranquility in a constantly moving and changing world. It shows in steps how to find peace in the moment, based on empirically backed psychological findings. This is a great read for those who want to slow down as well as those who struggle with anxiety.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not-By-Me-Best-Psychology-BookCarol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Date of Publication: 2006

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This book posits that when people make mistakes, hold on to outmoded attitudes, or harm other people, they then need to quiet the cognitive dissonance that impedes feelings of self-worth. In order to do this we unconsciously create stories that pardon our culpability, reestablishing our feelings of being smart, moral, and right. The authors’ work is backed by years of research, outlining an interesting discussion of self-justification, how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. The 2015 updated edition offers new examples and ends with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and even forgive ourselves.

Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain

Neuromarketing-Best-Psychology-BookPatrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin

Date of Publication: 2007

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In this book the authors look at the ways in which modern brain research can help in areas of business such as increasing sales and increasing effectiveness in the workplace. With an ad filled world, the average person is bombarded with up to 10,000 sales messages each day. This makes is harder than ever before to  sell a product or a service. By using the tools that neuroscience has uncovered, businesses and individuals can immediately increase their ability to sell as well as boost their overall effectiveness. Using the latest brain research and innovative marketing practices, the authors outline several extremely effective tools to help deliver commanding, distinctive, and unforgettable presentations that will have a major impression on potential buyers such as:

  • The six stimuli that always trigger a response
  • The four steps to align content and delivery of your message
  • The six message building blocks to address the “old brain”
  • The seven powerful impact boosters to set your delivery apart from the rest

Using these techniques can help you create efficient sales presentations, close more deals, implement effective marketing strategies, and improve your influence over others.

Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do

Numbers-Rule-Your-World-Best-Psychology-BookKaiser Fung

Date of Publication: 2011

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One of the most intimidating areas of psychological study for many students is statistics. To advance in the field of psychology, it is critical to understand and use statistics. This book is different from many others in this list in that it does not cover a specific psychological topic or phenomena. Instead, it addresses the topic of how to apply statistics and the outcome, and come up with an interesting way to cover the material. The book includes examples, stories and applicable material on every page. This is a great book for those at all levels, including the lay person person who wants to better understand statistics and how they work.

Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View

Obedience-to-Authority-An-Experimental-View-Best-Psychology-BookStanley Milgram

Date of Publication: 1974

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In the 1960’s, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of controversial experiments that changed the public’s perception of morality and free will. In this widely criticized study, the subjects (called teachers in the study) were instructed to administer electric shocks to a human “learner” (who was actually a researcher) when they answered a question incorrectly. As the study progressed the shocks became seemingly more powerful and painful. In reality there was no shock, simply good acting by the learner. Milgram outlines his study and his findings. Despite the controversy surrounding the methodology, this study is still widely cited by the scientific community as an example of the extent to which people will obey orders from authority figures regardless of consequences. The 2009 release of the book features an introduction from Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the famous Stanford Prison Experiment. Obedience to Authority is a fascinating account of his Milgram’s experiment and an explanation of his findings.

On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy

on-becoming-a-person-a-therapist-s-view-of-psychotherapy-Best-Psychology-BookCarl Rogers and Peter D. Kramer

Date of Publication: 1961

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Carl Rogers was the founder of the humanistic psychology movement, which revolutionized the field of psychotherapy. His pioneering idea of “client-centered therapy” was a game changer in the field. The influence of his ideas has lasted for decades, becoming so much a part of mainstream psychology that the ingenious nature of his work has almost been forgotten. The 1995 edition includes a new introduction by Dr. Peter Kramer, highlighting the forgotten significance of Rogers’s work on modern psychology.  New discoveries in the field of psychopharmacology, especially that of the antidepressant Prozac, have spawned a quick-fix drug revolution that has obscured the psychotherapeutic relationship.   The trend is now swinging back to  the therapeutic relationship, making Rogers’s “client-centered therapy” timely and important.

Out of Character

Out-of-Character-Best-Psychology-BookDavid DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo

Date of Publication: 2013

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Out of Character is a startling glimpse into the hidden forces that drive the saint and sinner in us all, revealing why human behavior is by far more unpredictable than ever thought. We wonder how jealousy could send an otherwise level-headed person into a violent rage or what drives someone to lose a family fortune at the blackjack tables. In this book DeSteno and Valdesolo turn our notions on these topics upside down. They argue that our character is not a stable set of enduring traits, but instead a constantly evolving state that can be influenced by the constant push and pull of hidden mechanisms in our mind. It is this battle between incongruent forces that impact how we act at any given point in time. The book uses surprising results of clever experiments created to shed new light on many of the puzzling behaviors that we often see in the headlines.

Outliers: The Story Of Success

Outliers-The-Story-Of-Success-Best-Psychology-BookMalcolm Gladwell

Date of Publication: 2011

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A long-time staff writer at the New Yorker, Gladwell takes the reader on an intellectual journey through the world of what he calls “outliers.” These are the best and the brightest, most famous and the most successful people in the world. He investigates the question: what makes high-achievers different? Much of the time, he argues, people pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from, such as their culture, their family, their generation, and the experiences of how they were raised. He touches on such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation

Patterns-Of-Attachment-Best-Psychology-BookMary D. Salter Ainsworth and Mary C. Blehar

Date of Publication: 1978

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Mary Salter Ainsworth is best known for her theories on parent-child attachment. She began formulating her theories on this topic by making naturalistic observations of parents and children in both Uganda and Baltimore, Maryland. This was the springboard for a fascinating career, creating theoretical and descriptive insights regarding maternal care and the “secure base phenomenon” that become central to attachment theory. In Patterns of Attachment she outlines the methods and  results of the landmark Baltimore Longitudinal Study. The Baltimore project resulted in benchmark results on the nature of a child’s tie to its primary caregiver and the importance of early experiences. This work addresses a wide array of theoretical and operational issues  common in most developmental and longitudinal projects, specifically issues of age appropriate assessment, quantifying behavior, and comprehending individual differences. Ainsworth and her students also made pioneering strides in clarifying and defining new concepts that demonstrated the value of the ethological methods and insights about behavior.

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably-Irrational-Best-Psychology-BookDan Ariely

Date of Publication: 2008

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Ariely uses his background as a psychologist and behavioral economics professor to evaluate some of the many irrational occurrences in everyday life. He asks questions such as “Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup?” The reader is forced to think about how rational our decisions are when looked at under a microscope. The newly revised and expanded edition of the New York Times bestseller disputes the collective assumption that humans behave in a fundamentally rational manner. A wide variety of topics are addressed, with things ranging from drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner. In many of these circumstances we tend to overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Ariely argues that these are not random or senseless; they are in fact systematic and predictable, thereby making us predictably irrational.

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

Priceless-Best-Psychology-BookWilliam Poundstone

Date of Publication: 2011

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In this book Poundstone uncovers the hidden psychology of value. He uses carefully designed psychological experiments to show that consumers are generally unable to estimate “fair” prices accurately and are influenced by their unconscious. Because marketers and businesses use this fact to their advantage, it is important to understand how this process works. “Price consultants” help retailers convince consumers to pay more for less, and “negotiation coaches” offer similar instruction for those in the business world and make deals. This “psychology of price” influences the design of price tags, menus, rebates, “sale” ads, cell phone plans, supermarket aisles, real estate offers, wage packages,  and even large corporate buyouts. This book shows how prices are the most universal persuaders of all. Based in the growing field of behavioral decision theory, Priceless is an excellent read for any professional, negotiator, business-person or shopper.

Psychology, 10th Edition

Psychology-10th-Edition-Best-Psychology-BookDavid G. Myers

Date of Publication: 2011

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One of the highest compliments this book receives from both students and professors is how engaging the material is right from the beginning. Both the material itself, as well as the easy-to-use presentation, outlines the broad field of psychology in a  concise, appealing manner. David Myers’ highly regarded introductory text Psychology has reached a wide audience of students and instructors with each subsequent edition. Myers and his team of researchers and writers are leaders in the field in understanding the importance of psychological research and the needs of the instructors and students. Over ten million student “class testers” and thousands adopting instructors will testify to the high quality of this book.

Psychology: A Concise Introduction

Psychology-A-Concise-Introduction-Best-Psychology-BookRichard Griggs

Date of Publication: 2014

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Richard Grigg’s Psychology: A Concise Introduction is one of the most affordable introductory psychology textbooks on the market. This succinct textbook is an unrivaled volume that offers a thorough review of the psychology field’s basic ideas and the research behind them. In addition to the textbook, there is a robust, specifically designed supplement package for students and instructors. No other text and supplement package can offer the same value for the  price. The 4th edition of the text is thoroughly updated, specifically in target areas such as neuroscience and in coverage of topics affected by the release of the new DSM-5.

Psychology: An Introduction

Psychology-An-Introduction-Lahey-Best-Psychology-BookBenjamin Lahey

Date of Publication: 2011

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The 11th edition of Benjamin Lahey’s Psychology: An Introduction is a modern update of a time-honored classic introductory psychology textbook. This text will help psychology students master the important concepts and historical details of psychology. The 11th edition has been updated to include the latest research with an emphasis on Consciousness, Development, Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology. Professor Lahey integrates empirically based scholarship throughout the text, providing students with an accurate representation of modern psychology. The updates to this text have made it even more student-friendly with clear chapter openers and updates that make the material even more relevant to students. The proven learning system helps students grasp the concepts presented in the book. Lahey’s text emphasizes diversity and culture, making this book a well-rounded introduction to all areas of psychology

Psychology: Themes and Variations, 9th Edition

Psychology-Themes-and-Variations-Best-Psychology-BookWayne Weiten

Date of Publication: 2012

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This is the most recent edition of a widely used introductory psychology textbook. It preserves the book’s tradition of academic strengths while also addressing market changes, including new learning objectives, updated material and a  new design. It offers users an innovative array of psychology that meets three goals:

  1. To demonstrate the unity and diversity of psychology’s subject matter
  2. To illuminate the research process and its link to application
  3. To make the material challenging and thought-provoking yet easy to learn

This text maintains a balance of scientific rigor and a student-friendly approach by integrating seven book-wide themes, an unrivaled instructive art program, real-world examples, and modernized learning aids that help students understand research so they can better comprehend the larger concepts. Major topics covered in most introductory psychology courses are all included in this text, such as evolutionary psychology, neuropsychology, biological psychology, positive psychology, applied psychology, careers, and multiculturalism and diversity. Students report that this text is easy to read, extremely user friendly, and helpful in their classroom instruction.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition

Publication-Manual-Best-Psychology-BookAmerican Psychological Association

Date of Publication: 2008

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The APA Publication Manual (Pub Manual) is the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, and educators. While it was designed to help writers in the behavioral sciences and social sciences,  all non-fiction writers can benefit from its guidance. The Sixth Edition has been rewritten and made the most user-friendly Pub Manual the APA has ever created. Students and professionals can find answers to questions and receive guidance on how to present information, including text, data, and graphics, for publication in any type of format–such as college and university papers, professional journals, presentations for colleagues, and online publication.

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

Redirect-Best-Psychology-BookTimothy Wilson

Date of Publication: 2011

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Timothy Wilson’s 2011 book Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, investigates the science of change and happiness. Wilson proposes the question to the reader: What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager’s behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education? While no such pill exists, there is a way to come closer to this idea. He states that people can simply use what he calls “story editing,” an empirically based approach described in Redirect to accomplish all of these things. In his book, he shows us how to redirect our internal stories regarding ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in order to impart change. Redirect shows the great capacity that small changes can have over the ways we see ourselves and our environment, and how we can use this in our everyday lives.

Science and Human Behavior

Science-And-Human-Behavior-Best-Psychology-BookB.F. Skinner

Date of Publication: 1965

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Skinner is best known for his work as a psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He is considered the father of Operant Conditioning, a type of learning or conditioning where any action with positive consequences is more likely to be repeated and vice versa (reinforcement). To study operant conditioning he invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box. In this box he used rats as subjects to test how reinforcement affects the behavior of the rats. In this groundbreaking book Skinner evaluates and explains the ways in which these forces control human and animal behavior. The work is a comprehensive look into the scientific theories of human nature and the potential ways that human behavior can be predicted and controlled.

Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control

Self-Efficacy-The-Exercise-of-Control-Best-Psychology-BookAlbert Bandura

Date of Publication: 1997

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Albert Bandura is another member on the list of the world’s most respected and cited psychologists. In this highly anticipated exploration into his immensely influential work on self-efficacy, he reviews his findings of more than 20 years of research. This work outlines Bandura’s theory that “those with high self-efficacy expectancies – the belief that one can achieve what one sets out to do – are healthier, more effective, and generally more successful than those with low self-efficacy expectancies”. This book is very useful for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses, as well as for professional use. Bandura demonstrates how belief in one’s abilities influences development and psychosocial functioning throughout one’s lifespan in relation to education, health, psychopathology, athletics, business, and international affairs.

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

Sexual-Behavior-in-the-Human-Male-Best-Psychology-BookAlfred Charles Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy and Clyde E. Martin

Date of Publication: 1948

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When Sexual Behavior in the Human Male published in 1948, it encountered a great deal of both condemnation and acclaim. The 804-page book has widely been noted as a milestone on the path toward  a scientific approach to the understanding of human sexual behavior. Alfred Kinsey and his fellow researchers set out to compile an objective body of facts regarding human sexuality, specifically that of the adult human male. Through their research they used the method of first hand interviews to gather their data. The volume is based upon the histories of approximately 5,300 adult males, which were gathered over the course of a 15-year period. The text describes the methodology, sampling, coding, interviewing, statistical analyses, and then examines factors and sources of sexual outlet. In 1953 Kinsey also published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, a similar compilation of details about adult female sexual behavior.

Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World

Situations-Matter-Best-Psychology-BookSam Sommers

Date of Publication: 2012

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Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World is a thought-provoking investigation into the invisible forces that impact your life without you ever knowing. The goal of the book is to help the reader understand how they work in order to improve your daily activity and function. Sommers cleverly describes how humans tend to overlook the tremendous power of situations in our daily lives. Most people are unable to understand that the most rudimentary details, such as where we are, and who we surround ourselves with, affect how we think and act. Situations Matter asserts that by understanding the influence of context we can rethink how we see ourselves and become more effective at work, home, and in our daily lives. The author describes the snares that can be avoided and makes suggestions on how we can make wiser decisions and smarter observations about the world around us.

Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

Social-Engineer-Best-Psychology-BookChristopher Hadnagy and Paul Wilson

Date of Publication: 2010

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Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking is a captivating look at the concept of Neuro-Lingusitic Programming (NLP). NLP is a controversial approach to psychotherapy and organizational change based on “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences underlying them” and “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior.”  Hadnagy and Wilson elaborate upon a term popularized by noted social engineer Kevin Mitnick.  He created the term “social engineering,” using the example that it is easier to trick someone into revealing a password for a system than it is to hack into the system. This useful book outlines a range of exercises with the goal of deceiving unsuspecting victims, while also addressing ways to prevent social engineering threats.

Social Psychology

Social-Psychology-Best-Psychology-BookSolomon Asch

Date of Publication: 1952

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Solomon Asch was a Polish gestalt psychologist and pioneer in social psychology. He is noted as having created some of the most important works on impression formation, prestige suggestion, conformity, and  other topics in social psychology. His work keeps with the theme of Gestalt psychology– that the whole is not only greater than the sum of its parts, but the nature of the whole fundamentally alters the parts.  The book discusses Gestalt theory, with Asch addressing some of the important questions regarding human nature, offering a unified discourse on the rudimentary issues underlying social psychology. Published 1952, this book was part of a revolution in thinking and is still used to discuss the problems of social psychology.

Strangers to Ourselves: The Adaptive Unconscious

Strangers-to-ourselves-Best-Psychology-BookTimothy D. Wilson

Date of Publication: 2004

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This book is an innovative tour of the human unconscious. Wilson has redefined this topic and introduces the reader to a hidden mental world of judgments, feelings, and motives that traditional introspection does not show. The author explains what empirical psychology has revealed, and that it is much more than a warehouse of crude drives and conflict-ridden memories. Instead, he views the unconscious as a set of universal, sophisticated mental processes that help us interpret the world, set goals, and implement action, all while we are consciously thinking about something else. He also states that we remain unaware of our potentials, feelings, or motives because we have developed a believable story about ourselves that is out of touch with our adaptive unconscious.

Stumbling on Happiness

Stumbling-On-Happiness-Best-Psychology-BookDan Gilbert

Date of Publication: 2007

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Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness is a look into how we can achieve higher level of happiness and personal satisfaction. The esteemed Harvard psychologist describes the shortcomings of imagination and “illusions of foresight” that cause us to misconstrue our future and underestimate our level of satisfaction. This book brings to life the latest research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics. It sheds light on what scientists have recently discovered about the distinctive human capability of imagining the future, and about our capacity to predict how we will likely feel about it when it happens.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

Sway-Best-Psychology-BookOri Brafman and Rom Brafman

Date of Publication: 2009

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This book takes a tour through the hidden psychological influences that disrupt our decision-making. The authors show the dynamic forces that impact our personal and business lives, including loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid perceived losses), the diagnosis bias (our inability to reevaluate our initial diagnosis of a person or situation), and the “chameleon effect” (our tendency to take on characteristics that have been arbitrarily assigned to us). Some of the examples highlighted in this book include a project in which a Harvard Business School professor convinced his students to pay $204 for a $20 bill and a football coach who spun traditional strategy to lead his team to victory. Sway is one of the rare books challenges our views of the world while changing the way we think.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Switch-How-to-Change-Things-When-Change-is-Hard-Best-Psychology-BookChip Heath and Dan Heath

Date of Publication: 2010

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The Heath brothers argue that the biggest obstacle to positive change is a hard-wired conflict. This conflict involves the scientifically backed theory that the human mind is ruled by two different systems, the rational mind and the emotional mind, which constantly compete for control. The rational mind may have one goal while the emotional mind may have a more immediate gratification style goal. The tension between the two minds can create a state of difficulty. The Heath’s feel that if you can overcome this state, change can been seen quickly with  dramatic results.

Teaching for Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success

Teaching-for-Wisdom-Intelligence-Creativity-and-Success-Best-Psychology-BookRobert J. Sternberg, Elena Grigorenko and Linda Jarvin

Date of Publication: 2015

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This work by renowned psychologist Robert Sternberg, along with experts in the field Elena Grigorenko and Linda Jarvin, has quickly become the guide for “teaching beyond the test.” The authors show how students with strong higher-order thinking skills are much more likely to be successful, lifelong learners. The authors used collaborative research conducted by leaders in the field to show how to effectively implement teaching and learning strategies that nurture intelligence, creativity, and wisdom. The book serves as a practical teaching manual offering an overview of the WICS model—Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, Synthesized, which helps teachers enhance students’ capacity for effective learning and problem solving. There are extensive examples for language arts, history, mathematics, and science in Grades K–12. This work is excellent for teachers working to broaden their teaching methods while also expanding the skills and abilities of their students.

The Anatomy of Violence

the-anatomy-of-violence--Best-Psychology-BookAdrian Raine

Date of Publication: 2013

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The Anatomy of Violence is considered by some to be a controversial look at the details underlying violence. Raine looks at questions such as how some kids from good environments become mass murderers. Is there actually such a thing as a natural born killer? And, if so, what can we do to identify and treat those born with a predisposition to criminal behavior? Raine has studied this subject for more than three decades, and has worked to answer these and many similar questions using pioneering research on the biological basis for violence. Raine presents a growing body of evidence that shows how genetic factors and environmental influences can essentially create a “criminal brain.” There are a number of criticized theories such as how a low resting heart rate can give rise to a violent personality. Despite the controversy, this book highlights groundbreaking experiments, shocking data, and stunning case studies. This book has been seen by many as an investigation into the tricky ethical issues about prevention and punishment.

The Art of Choosing

the-art-of-choosing-Best-Psychology-BookSheena Iyengar

Date of Publication: 2011

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The Art of Choosing is a helpful guide on decision-making.  Iyengar’s work looks at choices, both mundane and life altering, and how these choices define us and shape our lives. She asks difficult questions about how and why we choose, such as: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Through her research, Iyengar has uncovered data on decision-making that is both surprising and profound. In the modern world of changing political and social forces, a technological revolution, and interconnected commerce, our decisions have far-reaching consequences. The Art of Choosing is an excellent companion to guide us through these difficult choices.

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

The-Autistic-Brain-Best-Psychology-BookTemple Grandin and Richard Panek

Date of Publication: 2013

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This fascinating book co-authored by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek is an investigation into the diagnosis of autism through the exploration of neuroimaging, genetics, and brain science. This book looks at what causes autism and how it can be treated and diagnosed. The narrative is largely told from the point-of-view of Grandin who was diagnosed with autism in 1947. This important psychological work has helped professionals and the general public become more aware of a diagnosis that was seen in years past as a strange, bizarre, and misunderstood condition.  Grandin discusses her personal experiences with autism as well as the latest technological advances in the study of the disorder, including the genetics of autism. The book outlines some of the symptoms she displayed at an early age, including destructive behavior, the inability to speak, sensitivity to physical contact, fixation on spinning objects, all of which are now considered classic markers of the disorder.  Grandin focuses on her primary goal of encouraging accurate diagnosis for the disorder and promoting enhanced treatments for sensory problems associated with autism. This book is an excellent read for parents, family members, psychology students and professionals in the field.

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

Bell-Curve-Intelligence-and-Class-Structure-in-American-Life-Best-Psychology-BookRichard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray

Date of Publication: 1996

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In this popular yet controversial book, Herrnstein and Murray show a link between intelligence and class and race in modern society. One of the goals of the book is to show what public policy could do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty. The authors explore how low intelligence, when separated from social, economic, or ethnic background, is the root of many societal problems. They also make another controversial assertion that intelligence levels differ among ethnic groups. According to the authors, society must address these differences  to properly assess the country’s real problems and make realistic plans to deal with them. They state that if we accept the intelligence differences among groups, we can learn to minimize detrimental assumptions about any individual of a given group whose intelligence level may be anywhere under the bell curve.

The Biological Basis of Personality

The-Biological-Basis-of-Behavior-Best-Psychology-BookHans J. Eysenck

Date of Publication: 1967

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This work is one of the 20th Century’s most widely cited and unique approaches to psychology. Eysenck uses this forum to create a descriptive and causal model of human personality that matches with the major concepts within the field of experimental psychology. He outlines the physiological and neurological mechanisms that form the biological basis of behavior patterns. In this work he proposes an agreement between personality and physiology which was seen as a major innovation in the field of psychology, setting his research apart from his contemporaries. Before this publication, Eysenck had constructed a model of personality in other works such as Dimensions of Personality and The Experimental Study of Personality, but these were more descriptive in nature. In this third phase of experiments he delves deeper into the biological causes that underlie the psychological concepts of emotion, excitation, and inhibition. He suggests that there are causal links between personality variables and neurological and physiological discoveries that help move this field forward.

The Branded Mind

The-Branded-Mind-Best-Psychology-BookErik Du Plessis

Date of Publication: 2011

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Du Plessis  covers  many topics, including the nature of feelings, moods, personality, measuring the brain, consumer behavior, decision-making, and market segmentation. He explains ways that individuals think, and more specifically how they think about brands. Brand choice decisions take place inside the consumer’s head, which some consider difficult to investigate. By using neuroscience  we can better appreciate consumer response to brands and how they make purchasing decisions. This book explores what psychologicalists have found about the structure of the brain and how different parts of the brain interact. Du Plessis anayzes the developments in neuroscience and neuromarketing and what these findings mean for brand managers.

The Compass of Pleasure

The-Compass-of-Pleasure-Best-Psychology-BookDavid J. Linden

Date of Publication: 2012

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The full title of this book, The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good , sums up the wide range of topics covered. Esteemed neuroscientist, professor, and writer, David Linder, integrates scientific evidence with humorous stories to illuminate how the range of human behaviors that give us that “high” feeling actually function. The Compass of Pleasure clarifies for the reader why substances like nicotine and heroin are addictive while most hallucinogens are not, how fast food chains ensure diners will eat more, and why some people cannot resist the temptation of a new sexual encounter. The book is simultaneously provocative and illuminating, with a thorough look at the desires that define us.

The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence

The-Ego-and-the-Mechanisms-of-Defence-Best-Psychology-BookAnn Freud

Date of Publication: 1936

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Anna Freud is the youngest child of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. A pioneer in child analysis, she was the only of his children to pursue a career psychoanalysis. She began her career as a schoolteacher, later becoming a member of the Vienna Psycho-Analytical Society in 1922. She had a number of publications throughout her career, one of the most widely cited was The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. When the book was  published in 1936 it was immediately viewed as a significant contribution to the field of psychoanalytic psychology. The book has become a classic in the field.  Freud discusses adaptive measures that help keep painful and unwanted feelings at bay or made more bearable. Throughout her career she was regularly compared with her father, and this work, like many of her father’s, stands the test of time.

The Happiness Hypothesis

The-happiness-hypothesis-Best-Psychology-Book
Jonathan Haidt

Date of Publication: 2006

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The award-winning psychologist assesses forms of philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science. The book highlights how a deeper understanding of enduring tenets, such as “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” can enrich and even change our lives. Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His research focuses on morality – its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org.

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone (Especially Ourselves)

The-Honest-Truth-About-Lying-Best-Psychology-BookDan Ariely

Date of Publication: 2011

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Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational . In this work, he scrutinizes the opposing forces that drive us to cheat and keep us honest. In a witty manner, Ariely describes how cheating and dishonesty are unfortunate parts of our national news cycle, making them an unavoidable part of the human condition.
He draws upon experiments and research, to reveal what motivates these irrational and deceitful behaviors.

The Interpretation of Dreams

the-interpretation-of-dreams-Best-Psychology-BookSigmund Freud

Date of Publication: 1899

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Freud, the “father of psycholanalysis,”  published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899.  It remains a classic in the field.   It studies why humans dream and what it means in the larger picture of our psychological lives. The book delves into some of Freud’s time-tested theories of manifest and latent dream content, the special language of dreams, dreams as wish fulfillments, the significance of childhood experiences, and several others. This book remains a milestone in the psychology of dreams.

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The-Invisible-Gorilla-How-Our-Intuitions-Deceive-Us-Best-Psychology-BookChristopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Date of Publication: 2011

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One of the most famous modern psychological experiments is known as the Invisible Gorilla. Participants are shown a video and asked to count how many times a basketball is passed. At the end of the video, many of the participants can accurately state how many passes where made but almost all failed to notice that during the video a gorilla walks into the middle of the passing circle. This book delves deeper into what this study set out to measure.  Chabris and Simons, use interesting stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate one fundamental reality: Human minds do not work the way we think they do. Most of us believe that what we see is a factual reality. In actuality most of us are missing a great deal of what is around us. This book also uses the work of other researchers to address topics in attention, perception, memory, and reasoning to show how false perceptions can get us into trouble.

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

The-Lucifer-Effect-Understanding-How-Good-People-Turn-Evil-Best-Psychology-BookPhilip Zimbardo

Date of Publication: 2007

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In this book social psychologist and mastermind behind the Stanford Prison Experiment,  Zimbardo investigates why good people to do bad things. He also looks into how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally and the implications regarding the line separating good and evil. Zimbardo explains how and why all humans are susceptible to the call of what he calls “the dark side.” He uses a number of historical examples as well as his own innovative research to detail how situational forces and group dynamics can influence good people to engage in bad acts. This book is one of the first detailed looks into the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the famous study of college students placed in a mock prison environment. Throughout this work, Zimbardo helps the reader to better understand an array of troubling phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to large-scale genocide. He dispels the long-standing idea of “one bad apple spoiling the barrel” by introducing the notion that the social setting and the system soil the individual, rather than the other way around.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

the-man-who-mistook-his-wife-for-a-hat-best-psychology-bookOliver Sacks

Date of Publication: 1998

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The New York Times calls Sacks  “one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century.”  In this book, about neurological disorders, tells the stories of individuals living with bizarre perceptual and intellectual abnormalities including such troubles as: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; people who can no longer recognize people and common objects; those who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. This is an excellent read for both psychology professionals and lay people alike.

The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success

The-Marshmallow-Test-Best-Psychology-BookWalter Mischel

Date of Publication: 2015

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In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, psychologist Walter Mischel, conducted a simple test to study delayed gratification in children. In this landmark study, a child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. The child is left alone to make this decision. The purpose of  the experiment was to study whether the ability to delay gratification is an important marker for success later in life.  The study found  that the children who chose to wait and receive two marshmallows had higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains his theory that self-control can be learned and applied to personal challenges including weight control, quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. This book puts forth insightful suggestions on how to efficiently make choices in parenting, education, public policy and self-care.

The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse

The-Myth-of-Repressed-Memory-Best-Psychology-BookElizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham

Date of Publication: 1996

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Some research has suggested that when the human mind experiences a terrifying experience it has the capability to bury the memory so deeply within the unconscious that it can only be recalled through a flashback triggered by a sight, a smell, or a sound. From this research came an entire industry of therapists and lawyers, all with the common goal of treating and litigating the cases of individuals who suddenly claim to have “recovered” memories of everything from child abuse to murder. In The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse they argue that despite a mountain of research in this area, there is no controlled scientific support for the idea that memories of trauma are routinely hidden in the unconscious and reliably recovered at a later point. This book states that because “recovered memory” is not a legitimate psychological phenomenon, the movement that has developed is tantamount to a dangerous fad or modern day witch-hunt.

The Nature of Prejudice: 25th Anniversary Edition

The-Nature-of-Prejudice-Best-Psychology-Book

Gordon W. Allport and Kenneth Clark

Date of Publication: 1954

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The Nature of Prejudice offers profound insights into the complexities of the human experience. Harvard psychologist Gordon Allport, a leader in the field, conducted a great deal of research to create a landmark study on the roots and nature of prejudice. This book remains the standard work on the subject of discrimination. The 25th anniversary publication includes an unabridged edition with an introduction by Kenneth Clark of Columbia University and a new preface by Thomas Pettigrew of Harvard University. This comprehensive book investigates various aspects of the long-standing problem of prejudice. Allport explores different kinds of prejudice, including racial, religious, ethnic, economic and sexual, offering suggestions for reducing the negative effects of discrimination. The added material by Clark and Pettigrew offers an update on the modern social-psychological research in prejudice and reaffirms the lasting value of Allport’s original theories and insights.

The Neurotic Personality of Our Time

The-Neurotic-Personality-of-Our-Time-Best-Psychology-BookKaren Horney

Date of Publication: 1937

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In this pioneering work,  Horney explains the concept that she coined the “false self.” She states that people use this false self  to cover up their feelings of anxiety or insecurity. She uses the example that when people may not feel as smart as those around them, they may act as though they are superior and confident. She also posits that this leads people to become psychologically dishonest, and may eventually lose sight of who they truly are. It is through this loss of self that people may alienate themselves from opportunities for advancement that could  build their self-esteem. This book outlines the false self with a great deal of detail and helps the reader better understand the pitfalls of such modes of thinking.

The Optimism Bias

The-Optimism-Bias-Best-Psychology-BookTali Sharot

Date of Publication: 2011

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The Optimism Bias is an interesting look into what many psychologists have been aware of for a long time – that most people hold an irrationally positive outlook on life.  Sharot is is an innovative neuroscientist who took this notion further to show how optimism may be crucial to our existence. In this book, she offers an in-depth look at topics such as:

  • How the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails
  • How the brains of optimists and pessimists differ
  • Why we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy
  • How emotions strengthen our ability to recollect
  • How anticipation and dread affect us
  • How our optimistic illusions affect our financial, professional, and emotional decisions

The work uses leading scientific methodologies coupled with an expansive narrative to offer the reader a new look at this topic.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

Paradox-of-Choice-Best-Psychology-BookBarry Schwartz

Date of Publication: 2005

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In The Paradox of Choice,  Schwartz explains the point at which the promise of individual freedom and self-determination becomes harmful to our psychological and emotional well-being. He shows how the dramatic expansion in available choices, ranging from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs, has become a problem instead of a solution. He also outlines how our fascination with choice forces us to seek more, inevitably making us feel worse. He proposes that we combine modern approaches in the social sciences to make the counter-intuitive case that minimizing choices can drastically reduce the stress and anxiety of modern life. The book suggests 11 practical steps to limit choices to a more manageable number, how to focus on the decisions that are most important and ignore the rest. By doing this we can have greater personal satisfaction from the choices we make.

The Person and the Situation

The-Person-and-the-Situation-Best-Psychology-BookLee Ross and Richard Nisbett

Date of Publication: 1999

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Authors Ross and Nisbett combine their expertise to investigate how the situations we find ourselves in can influence the way we behave and think. In this eloquent work, there is a blending of the central themes of social psychology and personality theory, covering central topics of social psychology. The authors cover cutting edge research on individual difference in social behavior and relate it to the day-to-day experiences we all encounter. This book addresses questions of personality psychology and social psychology, while focusing on questions that are considered to be outside the mainstream of social psychology.

The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice

The-Philosophy-of-Moral-Development-Best-Psychology-BookLawrence Kohlberg

Date of Publication: 1981

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Kohlberg is best known for his theory outlining six stages of moral development. This moral stage system is based in psychological theory originally created by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. Kohlberg began delving into this topic while a graduate psychology student at the University of Chicago in the late 1950’s. Here, he asserts that moral reasoning, the basis for ethical behavior, has six developmental stages, each more advanced at responding to moral dilemmas than the last. Building upon Piaget’s theories, Kohlberg says that the process of moral development is largely intertwined with social justice, and that it continues throughout the lifespan. He identifies the six stages of moral development, which are grouped into three levels: pre-conventional morality, conventional morality, and post-conventional morality. He examines the theories of Socrates, Kant, Dewey, Piaget, and others to address Socrates’ question “what is a virtuous man, and what is a virtuous school and society which educates virtuous men.”

The Power of Habit

The-Power-of-Habit-Best-Psychology-BookCharles M. Duhigg

Date of Publication: 2012

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Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg, wrote the Power of Habit in 2012 to open the dialogue on what habits lead to and sustain success. The book brings the reader to the edge of scientific discoveries that outline why habits exist and how negative habits can be changed. Readers are given a great deal of information, including interesting narratives from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement. Duhigg sets forth a new understanding of human nature and the underlying potential. The core of the book is that “the key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work”. This understanding, the author says enables readers  to use this science to transform businesses, our communities, and our lives.

The Psycho-Analysis Of Children

The-Psycho-Analysis-Of-Children-Best-Psychology-BookMelanie Klein

Date of Publication: 1923

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Austrian psychoanalyst Melanie Klein achieved academic fame in the early 20th century for her work on psychoanalytic child psychology. Her ideas include a strong belief in the therapeutic effects of child play, which helped give rise to the field of play therapy. The Psycho-Analysis of Children is considered a classic in its field. Many feel that her work helped to revolutionize the field of child analysis. In this book she outlines how the processes used in traditional psychoanalysis  need to be adjusted for use with children. She outlines how to best apply psychoanalysis to the field of early childhood, and  treat children, while also offering new thoughts on the psychological development of childhood.

The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence

The-Psychology-of-Attitude-Change-and-Social-Influence-Best-Psychology-BookPhilip G. Zimbardo and Michael R. Leippe

Date of Publication: 1991

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The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence is part of the McGraw-Hill Series on  Social Psychology. While it is written for students with experience in social psychology, readers of all levels who have an interest in social psychology can enjoy this work. It has also been read by a number of individuals who simply have an interest in this fascinating author and  creator of the controversial Stanford Prison Experiment. This work is a comprehensive text covering the relationships among social influence, attitude change and human behavior. Throughout the book there is use of current, real-life situations, which  helps students understand the principles of behavior and attitude change that foster critical thinking skills in the reader.

The Psychology Of The Child

The-Psychology-Of-The-Child-Best-Psychology-BookJean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder

Date of Publication: 1969

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Piaget is included on the list of groundbreaking psychological theorists who helped the expand the field.  His influence on the field has been considerable, with pioneering investigations and theories of cognitive development. His works have helped move child psychology in new directions. Throughout his career he made bold speculations, many of which inspired of a new generation of  psychologists and researchers. His theories and findings have been the subject of a large number of books and articles. He is somewhat of a rarity in that his influence spread to many other disciplines. In this work, Piaget, writing  with long-time collaborator Bärbel Inhelder, presents developmental psychology according to how he viewed it throughout his forty plus year career. It is a comprehensive combination that looks at each stage of childhood cognitive development from infancy to adolescence.

The Red Book

The-Red-Book-Best-Psychology-BookCarl Jung

Date of Publication: 2009

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The Red Book was a red leather‐bound folio manuscript penned by Swiss psychologist  Carl Gustav Jung between 1915 and the early 1930’s. The writings capture Jung’s imaginative experiences between 1913 and 1916. It has long been cited as the most important and central work of his career, though it wasn’t published  until 2009. In  in cooperation with Jung’s estate and 13 years of painstaking editorial work by Sonu Shamdasani, The book was published by W. W. Norton, complete with an English translation, a comprehensive introduction written by Shamdasani, three appendices, and over 1500 editorial notes. Editions and translations in several other languages soon followed. In 2012, Norton released a “Reader’s Edition” of the work, which was a smaller format including the complete translated text along with the introduction and notes by Shamdasani, without the facsimile reproduction of Jung’s original calligraphic manuscript.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

The-Secret-Life-of-Pronouns-Best-Psychology-BookJames W. Pennebaker

Date of Publication: 2013

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Social psychologist and language expert James W. Pennebaker  uses state-of-the-art research in computational linguistics to count the frequency of words we use  to reveal secrets our  language shows about our feelings, self-concepts, and social intelligence. The most forgettable words are pronouns and prepositions, and this research shows that they can be the most revealing, with patterns that are as distinctive as fingerprints. Pennebaker uses groundbreaking analytic techniques to analyze historical documents and modern social media posts to uncover these hidden gems of human language. The reader will also learn interesting tidbits, including what Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common.

The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking

The-Seven-Laws-of-Magical-Thinking-Best-Psychology-BookMatthew Hutson

Date of Publication: 2013

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The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking offers the reader an entertaining look at the psychology behind superstition and religion (magical thinking), including how they make us human and how we can use them to our benefit. Using cognitive science, anthropology, and neuroscience, Hutson shows that magical thinking is not only hardwired into our brains, but it has been a factor in the evolutionary success of humankind. Magical thinking serves us in that is helps us to think that we have free will and an underlying purpose, all while protecting us from the reality of our own mortality. Using amusing stories, personal contemplations, and keen observations, The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking shows us how a seemingly irrational process improves the lives of the people who use them.

The Social Animal

the-social-animal-best-psychology-books
David Brooks

Date of Publication: 2012

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 New York Times journalist David Brooks provides a  look at what drives individual behavior and decision-making. Brooks examines a number of academic topics such as sociology, psychology, and biology as well as other theories, such as brain development in early life. Throughout the book, Brooks continually refers to two fictional characters ‘Harold’ and ‘Erica’, used to exemplify how emotional personality changes throughout the course of development. The book debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It reached the #3 spot on the Publishers Weekly best-sellers list for non-fiction.

The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature

The-Varieties-Of-Religious-Experience-A-Study-In-Human-Nature-Best-Psychology-BookWilliam James

Date of Publication:1902

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William James was an American philosopher and psychologist who also trained as a physician. He was the  first educator in the United States to offer a psychology course. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential philosophers and is often called “Father of American psychology”. In his work The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature he collected 20 lectures given at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland into one masterpiece. These lectures covered the nature of religion and the neglect of science in the framework of the academic study of religion. He  approaches religion as something experienced in everyday life. This book is considered one of the most important texts on psychology ever written. The work remains a classic in the field more than a century after it was published.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking-Fast-and-Slow-Best-Psychology-BookDaniel Kahneman

Date of Publication: 2011

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Daniel Kahneman, a  psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics,  takes the reader on an innovative tour of the human mind, along the way explaining the two systems that drive the way all human beings think. The first system is fast, intuitive, and emotional; while the second system is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The author outlines such topics as the “impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation”. He engages  the reader in a lively internal conversation about how humans think, revealing where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. The book offers practical insights into how decisions are made in our business and our personal lives. This book won the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 10 best books of 2011.

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception

Time-warped-Best-Psychology-BookClaudia Hammond

Date of Publication: 2013

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Claudia Hammond’s book on time perception and our internal clock employs the latest research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and biology, to explore the mysteries of our perception of time. The book addresses a number of questions such as why does life seem to speed up as we get older? Why does the clock in your head move at a different speed from the one on the wall? Why is it almost impossible to go a whole day without checking your watch? Is it possible to retrain our brains and improve our relationship with time? This book offers insighst into how we can manage our time more effectively, how to speed time up and slow it down at will, how to plan for the future with more accuracy, and how to use the warping of time to our own benefit.

Understanding Human Nature

Understanding-Human-Nature-Best-Psychology-BookAlfred Adler

Date of Publication: 1927

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Understanding Human Nature is considered by many to be the consummate handbook of Individual psychology, offering a thorough introduction to Adler’s key concepts.  Adler was a peer of Sigmund Freud, but over time broke from Freud’s circle.   He made his own path studying elements such as inferiority/ superiority complexes; memories and dreams; love, marriage and children; and sexuality and sexual problems. Throughout the book he offers a concrete description of how childhood affects adult life, which can benefit society at large. He disagreed with Freud’s cultural elitism, and believed that understanding the needs of patients should not be left entirely to the psychologist alone, but should be a process entered into by the practitioner and the patient. His holistic personality-based approach to psychology is still relevant in modern psychology to students, the general public and professionals.

Understanding Psychology

Understanding-Psychology-Feldman-Best-Psychology-BookRobert Feldman

Date of Publication: 2014

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In the 12th edition of this widely used introductory psychology textbook, Feldman weaves together the many historical details that underlie the modern field of psychology. Understanding Psychology is designed to teach students in a way that fits their academic style. The highly customized program uses a revolutionary revision process that creates a fully integrated learning system including the “Students First” goal. This adaptive learning program, SmartBook, offers students a customized academic experience that suits their individual needs. This edition uses “HeatMap” technology to outline the revisions that have been made based upon previous editions. Feldman used previous data to see where students struggled most, and  identified these as “hot spots” that needed to be refined and updated. This has made the already successful text even more clear, concise, and impactful. This textbook is based in Feldman’s accessible instruction and important research, as well as the “modules-within-chapters” format that is manageable for students and gives instructors the ability to assign and cover the topics they choose.

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do The Opposite

What-Makes-Your-Brain-Happy-Best-Psychology-BookDavid DiSalvo

Date of Publication: 2011

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This book looks at questions such as why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? It studies a fascinating paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. DiSalvo has pointed out is that much of what makes our brains “happy” leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which can make happiness difficult to obtain. The book investigates evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics. It includes interviews with many of the today’s top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience. The book shares insights that can be used to identify our brains’ falsehoods and help us turn that into happiness.

Wrightsman’s Psychology and the Legal System

Wrightsman's-Psychology-and-the-Legal-System-Best-Psychology-BookEdith Greene and Kirk Heilbrun

Date of Publication: 2013

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Wrightsman’s Psychology and the Legal System is the preeminent psychology textbook in the field of forensic psychology. The bestseller shows the fundamental value of psychological concepts and methodologies in the functioning of many aspects of the modern legal system. The book features topics such as competence to stand trial, the insanity defense, expert forensic testimony, analysis of eyewitness identification, criminal profiling, and many others. It provides a comprehensive overview of psychology’s contributions to the legal system, and the many roles available to trained psychologists within the system.

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Yes-50-Scientifically-Proven-Ways-to-Be-Persuasive-Best-Psychology-BookNoah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini

Date of Publication:

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Robert Cialdini is among the most quoted experts on the field of influence. Yes! outlines a number of surprising findings inside the world of persuasion in short, insightful chapters that can be applied to become a more effective persuader. This New York Times bestselling introduces 50 scientifically proven methods to increase anyone’s persuasive powers in both business and life. The book shows small changes that can make a big difference in the powers of persuasion. While many have criticized the book for offering limited scientific evidence, this is an excellent jumping off point for many professionals.

You Are Not So Smart

You-Are-Not-So-Smart-Best-Psychology-BookDavid McRaney

Date of Publication: 2012

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The full title of this stimulating work is You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself. McRaney explains to the reader in vivid detail why when making decisions about even the most mundane things, people think they deciding rationally, with a decision based on level-headed, detached logic. The author goes on to explain that in reality the truth is: “You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us—but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human.” This book evolved from McRaney’s popular blog, You Are Not So Smart, which closely looks at the decisions we make, the things we contemplate, and the emotions we feel, all in the context of the story we tell ourselves to explain them. Often these stories simply are not true. The book combines popular science and psychology with humor and wit, in an amusing evaluation of our irrational human behavior.

Best Psychology Books of All Time

This list includes the top books in the field of psychology. While a number of these appear little more than introductory textbooks in the field, these are books that can open student’s eyes to the exciting field of psychology. Psychology professionals and students as well as avid readers of all kinds have enjoyed a number of books included on this list. The top rated psychology books can be enjoyed by all kids of readers.

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About the Author

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University and then a Master of Science in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Drexel University, Kristen Fescoe began a career as a therapist at two prisons in Philadelphia. At the same time she volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, also in Philadelphia. After a few years in the field she accepted a teaching position at a local college where she currently teaches online psychology courses. Kristen began writing in college and still enjoys her work as a writer, editor, professor and mother.