The Best Psychology Books You Should Read

Every few years I update my list of favorite psychology books and it’s that time again. It turns out that this is my most popular blog post. There are a lot of people searching on Google for “Best Psychology Books”. So here’s my latest list. Let me know if you have some favorites that you think should have made it on my list.

(These are in no particular order, i.e., #1 doesn’t mean it’s my favorite.)

I do have an Amazon affiliate account, so I’ve included a link to each book after the description if you are interested in purchasing or just getting more info.

1. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, 2011 — If you want to understand how people think and how and why they react, then this is a must read. Daniel Kahneman is a Psychologist and a Nobel prize winner in Economics, but this book is all about how people think and react. It’s very well written, but I will warn you, it’s not an easy read. Plan to spend time reading this one. But it will be worth it for the understanding you get into why we do the things we do.

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8. Brain Rules: 12 Principles For Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina, 2009 — This is a somewhat misleading book. From the way it’s described you would think it’s a very practical book, for everyone, not academic or research oriented. But actually it’s quite a treasure trove of research, which I think is a good thing. He has this weird section at the end of each chapter where he tells you how to apply the principles in that chapter to your everyday life. I think those sections are the weakest, actually. But the material in the body of each chapter is solid, well referenced and well written. If you want a basic book that explains some basic brain functioning I would definitely read this book.

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9. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely, 2008. There is some great content in this book, but I have a basic disagreement with the premise. If you have read my blog posts or books you know that I believe that it is not that our decision-making or mental processing is “irrational”. It’s unconscious, but that doesn’t mean irrational or bad. Our unconscious mental processing works most of the time. Ariely’s view is that we are irrational and irrational means bad, and that we should learn how to counteract our mental processing. I don’t agree. But the research in the book is still good (it’s his interpretations and recommendations I take issue with).

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10. Hooked, by Nir Eyal, 2014. This book takes the research on classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and habits and rolls it together and applies it to the design of software and apps. The basic question is how can you develop products that people can’t stop using. Eyal has some unique takes on the topic that make for interesting and “a-ha” moment reading.

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Do you agree with my list? Do you have some favorites that I’ve failed to mention?

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