Popular Books on Psychology

Many psychology teachers consider the following to be interesting and readable books that say something worthwhile about psychology. All of these books are generally available in bookstores and libraries; many are available in paperback.

The list does not exhaust all possible print resources. It includes classic and contemporary work in scientific and applied areas. The original list was derived from recommended readings compiled by Charles Morris, PhD, of the University of Michigan, and John Santrock, PhD, of the University of Texas at Dallas. Alan Feldman of Highland Park High School (Highland Park, NJ), Pat Mattimore of Saint Ignatius College Prep ( San Francisco, CA), and Jewel Beamon and Emily Leary of the APA Education Directorate contributed to the revision of this list.

  • Abelson, R. P. (1995). Statistics as principled argument. Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    This is an engaging book on statistics, filled with interesting real-life examples.
  • Brannigan, G. G., & Marrens, M. R. (1993). The undaunted psychologist: Adventures in research. New York: McGraw-Hill.
    The Undaunted Psychologist contains fascinating stories from 15 research psychologists, describing what psychological research is really like—how they got their ideas, how they pursued them, and the successes and failures along the way. It conveys the excitement, challenge, and frustrations of psychological research. This book serves as an excellent complement to any introductory textbook.

  • Gander , E. M. (2003). On our minds: How evolutionary psychology is reshaping the nature-versus-nurture debate. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
    Gander examines the public debate between evolutionary psychologists and their critics in this highly readable text.

  • Guthrie, R. V. (2003). Even the rat was white: A historical view of psychology (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    Guthrie suggests that psychology has systematically excluded important sociocultural factors and recommends ways to build a more inclusive science.

  • Halpern, D. F. (2002). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking (4th ed.) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
    This demonstrates an outstanding (although challenging) application of psychological principles to critical thinking, memory, thought and language, analysis, probability, decision making, problem solving, and creative thinking. It includes hundreds of exercises and suggested readings.

  • Hilgard, E. R. (1987). Psychology in America: A historical survey. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
    After examining the diverse roots of the development of American psychology, Hilgard reviews the early schools of psychology. The author then covers the history of the various specialties in psychology, ranging from sensation and perception to clinical, social, and industrial/organizational psychology.

  • Hock, R. R. (2002). Forty studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    This book provides an in-depth look at 40 studies that influenced psychological thought. Useful for the introductory psychology course.

  • Horvat, J., & Davis, S. (1998). Doing Psychological Research. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall.
    This is a practical guide for developing research ideas.

  • Hunt, M. (1997). How science takes stock: The story of meta-analysis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
    This text reviews the history and techniques of meta-analysis. Hunt also discusses the impact of meta-analysis on the science and policy communities.

  • Landrum, E., Davis, S., & Landrum, T. (2003). The Psychology Major (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall.
    This book provides helpful and practical information for students thinking about majoring in psychology.

  • Meltzoff, J. (1998). Critical thinking about research: Psychology and related Fields. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.
    This book provides readers with the tools needed to identify errors in others' research and to reduce errors to a minimum in their own work.

  • Mook, D. (2004). Classic experiments in psychology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
    This book provides the background, conduct, and implications of classic experiments in psychology.

  • Nye, R. D. (1999). Three psychologies: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
    Nye gives a brief overview of the lives and basic concepts of these three influential theorists. His book includes comparisons, contrasts, and evaluations of the theories.

  • Ruscio, J. (2002). Clear thinking with psychology: Separating sense from nonsense. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
    This book teaches the fundamentals of scientific reasoning and differentiates between science and pseudoscience.

  • Sattler, D. N., & Shabatay, V. (1999). Psychology in context: Voices and perspectives (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
    This text presents key psychology concepts within the context of personal narratives and essays.

  • Scarborough , E., & Furumoto, L.(1989). Untold lives: The first generation of American women psychologists. New York: Columbia University Press.
    The authors use historiographic methods to explore the lives of America’s earliest women psychologists.

  • Stanovich, K. E. (2003). How to think straight about psychology (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    This insightful book examines how psychologists create and defend the validity of psychological arguments.

  • Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (1993). Critical and creative thinking: The case of love and war. New York: HarperCollins.
    The authors describe eight principles of critical thinking and then provide practice in applying those principles to understanding research on love (attraction, intimacy, conflict) and war (prejudice, aggression).

  • Whittlesey, V. (2001). Diversity activities for psychology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    This provides a broad range of activities including those related to ethnic minority, gender diversity, sexual orientation, aging, social class, and disability issues.

  • Woods, P. J., & Wilkinson, C. S. (1987). Is psychology the major for you? Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
    This book is recommended for students who need guidance on helping them decide about and prepare for a career in psychology.

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