There’s no time like the present to give yourself a little introspection. The global pandemic COVID-19 caused many people to take a closer look at themselves, and while it came with struggles and darkness for some– it also has led to a lot of self-awareness for the future. Psychology books are a great way to discover how our fascinating minds work, how life experiences affect us, and how to deal with these experiences on a personal and social level. Thousands of titles claim to offer stimulating and eye-opening material, but the truth is, finding the best psychology books sometimes takes a little digging.
Many psychology books may also overlap with the genre of self-help, with books often aiming to better understand aspects of psychology that may lead people to living happier, more fulfilling lives. It’s an important thing to consider, taking into account that negativity and putting yourself down can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scientists at Shinshu University found that when we hold negative beliefs about ourselves, these thoughts tend to self-perpetuate and influence future self-perceptions.
“People with psychiatric disorders including major depression tend to hold negative self-schema such as ‘I am incompetent’ and ‘I am a loser in life,’” says corresponding study author Noboru Matsumoto, associate professor in Shinshu University’s Division of Psychology, in a media release. Self-schemas are what a person thinks of themselves.
How much you believe in yourself and understanding your own psyche may also help us to achieve our goals more feasibly. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology also found that mastering new skills and hobbies is highly dependent on the level of motivation you have to push yourself. The researchers suggested that the biggest barrier to acing new experiences is not age, but a person’s fixed mindset that they possess only a certain amount of intelligence or skills.
Dipping your toes into the world of psychological literature can help us better understand ourselves and others. That’s why StudyFinds visited 10 of the leading expert websites to find the best psychology books most frequently recommended by reviewers. Based on these rankings, we’ve compiled a list of the top five most readable psychology books to date.
The List: Best Psychology Books, According To Experts:
1. The Power of Habit
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg comes in as one of the top psychology books, especially for those just getting started in the genre. The book, which explains why and how habits can affect basically every aspect of our life, is a fun read that’s approachable to anyone.
“With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation,” Good Reads writes.
Critics call the bestseller provocative, fascinating, and informative.
“Duhigg has read hundreds of scientific papers and interviewed many of the scientists who wrote them, and relays interesting findings on habit formation and change from the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and neuroscience. This is not a self-help book conveying one author’s homespun remedies, but a serious look at the science of habit formation and change,” The New York Times writes.
2. Thinking, Fast and Slow
The brain is inarguably the most fascinating organ in the body, and psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow takes a deeper look at emotion vs. logic.
“Thinking Fast And Slow shows you how two systems in your brain are constantly fighting over control of your behavior and actions, and teaches you the many ways in which this leads to errors in memory, judgment and decisions, and what you can do about it,” Four Minute Books writes.
Critics call the book enlightening and life-changing.
“Thinking, Fast and Slow is all about how two systems — intuition and slow thinking — shape our judgment, and how we can effectively tap into both. Using principles of behavioral economics, Kahneman walks us through how to think and avoid mistakes in situations when the stakes are really high,” Business Insider writes. “If you’re prone to making rash decisions that you sometimes regret — or feel too burned out to spend a lot of time weighing out the pros and cons of certain choices — this book is definitely worth checking out.”
3. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
If you’re interested in different neurological behaviors and disorders, Oliver Sacks’ book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales is an engaging read full of story-telling and clinical observations.
“Cases vary from the mildly amusing, such as those who no longer recognise common objects or have uncanny artistic and mathematical abilities, to the traumatic – including those who have lost some of their greatest memories and recollection of loved ones. Sacks writes in an incredibly sympathetic way, exploring the deeply human study of life and its effects from medical trauma,” University of Oxford writes.
Critics call the book inconceivably strange and deeply human.
“Here Dr. Sacks recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders: people afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations; patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common object,” Read This Twice writes.
4. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
When people think of success, they often think of intelligence— but it’s not always the driving factor, as Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ explains.
“Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our ‘two minds’—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny,” Read This Twice.
Critics call the book thoughtful and groundbreaking.
“Drawing on groundbreaking brain and behavioral research, Goleman shows the factors at work when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well. These factors, which include self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy, add up to a different way of being smart—and they aren’t fixed at birth,” Book Authority writes.
5. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry
It’s no revelation that American culture has a fascination with psychopaths, and Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry takes a look at the ones walking among us.
“In The Psychopath Test, Ronson describes his quest to determine whether it is true that many high up CEOs and politicians are psychopaths,” Medium writes. “Ronson offers intriguing insights into the minds of psychopaths, as well as some very interesting stories, making this book well worth a read.”
While less scientific and more of a jaw-dropping commentary on society, reviewers agree that it’s a fun and informative read that’s hard to put down.
“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,” Good Reads writes.
- Good Reads
- University of Oxford
- Very Well Mind
- Science Focus
- Read This Twice
- Book Authority
- New York Times
- Arden University
- Oxford Scholastica
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.