The Psychology Book Review

Clearly explaining more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the field, The Psychology Book uses accessible text and easy-to-follow graphics and illustrations to explain the complex theoretical and experimental foundations of psychology.

From its philosophical roots through behaviorism, psychotherapy, and developmental psychology, The Psychology Book looks at all the greats from Pavlov and Skinner to Freud and Jung, and is an essential reference for students and anyone with an interest in how the mind works. ~ goodreads review

Psychology used to be something of a backwater subject, of interest to scientists and people who liked watching rats in mazes. But in the past 20 years or so, it has become incredibly mainstream with a huge increase in the number of students studying the subject. The general public have also woken up to the fact that understanding something of psychology can be useful for making sense of both themselves and other people, and can help with communication and persuasion.

Dorling Kindersley are famed for their very visual and easily read books, and have now turned their sights on psychology with this book. Confusingly, there is no named author or even editor on the cover, although credits are given inside, with contributions from academics and other writers.

So what is the book like? Is it all big pictures and neat phrases? I hoped not and was pleased to see that, while there is the usual DK excellent design, there is plenty of sound content to illustrate and clearly describe a wide range of psychological topics.

The 350-odd pages of the book are divided into many two or four page articles, each covering the work of a single psychologist. These are grouped into the following sections:

Philosophical roots
Behaviourism
Psychotherapy
Cognitive psychology
Social psychology
Developmental psychology
Psychology of difference
Within this organization, the work of many of the psychologists which would be learned by psychology students is described. Of course two or four pages does not cover a lifetime and the articles necessarily miss out much detail. Nevertheless, an enormous amount of interesting and useful information is covered. There is even a neat bubble diagram for each psychologist to offer rapid appreciation of major ideas. In addition, a panel in each article offers a brief biopic of the psychologist in question.

This is not a trite or simplistic book. Many aspects of psychology are covered in good detail, certainly enough for most lay readers who will enjoy dipping into it for quick reads here and there. It should also be very helpful in giving an overview for early students who want to understand the big picture or revise key points from individual psychologists.

Overall, it is easy to recommend this book, which is the best that your reviewer has read for this target audience. As it says on the cover, ‘Big ideas, simply explained’.

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