Psychology is the science of mind and behaviour. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an intriguing field and therefore many of us out of curiosity want to know more about it. Psychology books help us gain knowledge on the field in an entertaining way. Reading these books helps us know ourselves better. Here is a list of the top ten psychology books of all time.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales is a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of his patients. Sacks chose the title of the book from the case study of one of his patients who has visual agnosia, a neurological condition that leaves him unable to recognize faces and objects. The book became the basis of an opera of the same name by Michael Nyman, which premiered in 1986. The book comprises twenty-four essays split into four sections which Losses, Excesses, Transports, and The World of the Simple, each dealing with a particular aspect of brain function. The first two sections discuss deficits and excesses, while the third and fourth sections describe phenomenological manifestations with reference to spontaneous reminiscences, altered perceptions, and extraordinary qualities of mind found in people with intellectual disabilities.
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry is a 2011 book written by British author Jon Ronson in which he explores the concept of psychopathy, along with the broader mental health “industry” including mental health professionals and the mass media. It spent the whole of 2012 on United Kingdom bestseller lists and ten weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson’s exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world’s top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are psychopaths teach Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little tell-tale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he’s sane and certainly not a psychopath.
3. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee
Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran is internationally renowned for uncovering answers to the deep and quirky questions of human nature that few scientists have dared to address. His bold insights about the brain are matched only by the stunning simplicity of his experiments — using such low-tech tools as cotton swabs, glasses of water, and dime-store mirrors. In Phantoms in the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran recounts how his work with patients who have bizarre neurological disorders has shed new light on the deep architecture of the brain, and what these findings tell us about who we are, how we construct our body image, why we laugh or become depressed, why we may believe in God, how we make decisions, deceive ourselves and dream, perhaps even why we’re so clever at philosophy, music, and art. Some of his most notable cases.
4. 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio & Barry Beyerstein
50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology uses popular myths as a vehicle for helping students and laypersons to distinguish science from pseudoscience. The book uses common myths as a vehicle for exploring how to distinguish factual from fictional claims in popular psychology. It explores topics that readers will relate to but often misunderstand, such as ‘opposites attract’, ‘people use only 10% of their brains’, and ‘handwriting reveals your personality and provides a ‘myth bust myth-busting evaluating folk psychology claims in everyday life. Authors through the book teach essential critical thinking skills through detailed discussions of each myth. This book includes over 200 additional psychological myths for readers to explore and contains an Appendix of useful Web Sites for examining psychological myths. This book features a postscript of remarkable psychological findings that sound like myths but that are true and have an engaging and accessible writing style that appeals to students and lay readers alike.
The Language Instinct is a 1994 book by Steven Pinker, written for a general audience. In his book, Pinker argues that humans are born with an innate capacity for language. He deals sympathetically with Noam Chomsky’s claim that all human language shows evidence of a universal grammar, but dissents from Chomsky’s scepticism that evolutionary theory can explain the human language instinct. In this classic, the world’s expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humour and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
This is a 2008 book by Dan Ariely, in which he challenges readers’ assumptions about making decisions based on rational thought. Ariely explains, “My goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you thereby presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are—how we repeat them again and again—I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them”. The book has been republished in a “revised & expanded edition”. In this new edition of the New York Times bestseller book, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviours are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable, making us predictably irrational.
Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman. The book is based on 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―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Topping bestseller lists for almost ten years, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a contemporary classic, an essential book that has changed the lives of millions of readers.
Bad Science is a book by Ben Goldacre, criticizing mainstream media reporting on health and science issues. It was published by Fourth Estate in September 2008. It has been positively reviewed by the British Medical Journal and the Daily Telegraph and has reached the Top 10 bestseller list for Amazon Books. Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biassed scientific studies. He has also taken the media to task for its willingness to throw facts and proof out the window. But he’s not here just to tell you what’s wrong. Goldacre is here to teach you how to evaluate placebo effects, double-blind studies, and sample sizes so that you can recognize bad science when you see it. You’re about to feel a whole lot better.
The Invisible Gorilla is a book published in 2010, co-authored by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. The title of this book refers to an earlier research project by Chabris and Simons revealing that people who are focused on one thing can easily overlook something else. The Invisible Gorilla describes how, when we are focused on one thing, we tend to overlook everything else. The Invisible Gorilla reveals the myriad ways that our intuitions can deceive us, but it’s much more than a catalogue of human failings. Chabris and Simons explain why we succumb to these everyday illusions and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against their effects. Ultimately, the book provides a kind of x-ray vision into our minds, making it possible to pierce the veil of illusions that clouds our thoughts and to think clearly for perhaps the first time.
This is a psychology book examining the key ways people can be influenced by “Compliance Professionals”. The book’s author is Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. Written in a narrative style combined with scholarly research, Cialdini combines evidence from experimental work with the techniques and strategies he gathered while working as a salesperson, fundraiser, advertiser, and in other positions inside organizations that commonly use compliance tactics to get us to say “yes.” Widely used in classes, as well as sold to people operating successfully in the business world, the eagerly awaited revision of Influence reminds the reader of the power of persuasion. Cialdini organizes compliance techniques into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behaviour: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.