What is worth reading in psychology, if you don't have too much time to explore the field?

My value set explicitly rates chemistry (specifically) and hard sciences (generally) as more worthy of my time than the soft sciences. Due to the culture I'm in, I may be unduly dissing the latter. In case that's true, I would like to rectify that. I would like to get a grasp of what is known, what is not, and what can be known. However, I would much prefer to get some kind of applicable knowledge. I am as susceptible to the fuzzies of thinking I understand something understood by few as the next guy, even though that belief is as likely to be right as not by default. To avoid this pitfall, I'd like to acquire a model that even if taken as gospel, even though it might not necessarily describe the world perfectly, is usable to make predictions. That is, if you've found a book you think is worth reading, please recommend it with the assumption that I am going to believe, and take everything in it as gospel which I sort of will, because I won't have much time to double check. So, applied psychology, right? (With knowledge applicable to daily life prefered to being able to make predictions on who would flank out in military training, but both being good enough to be worth mentioning.) (I've actually tried to do this sometime, with e.g educational psychology, but with some pretty new textbook found lots of time dedicated to learning-styles and all I know is that all I hear about that is that it's BS, and the book did'nt seem too interesting either way (and had no glossary, no nothing, while managing to be all pictury and colorful, heresy!) so it's trajectory ended outside my house.)

Examples of everydayish applications:

  • If psychologist were indeed more able to put people at ease, and making them open up about themselves, that would be one, for example

  • Similarly, any scenarios for which they may have prewritten scripts, which tend to take the average Joe unprepared (e.g someone's relatives died)

  • I never tried to teach kids (and thinking I could teach classmates without preparing, or notes written was a humbling exercise indeed) but I would assume that educational psychology could be useful? (Which, I don't know... new teachers always come out, with those promising techniques they will apply so their students will learn like they were made for it (cough) and then over time always end up using the same old standard)


Textbook-wise I recommend skipping the intro textbook, and just going straight into the specialties. Intro textbooks have a lot of problems as outlined here. I think the inclusion of rejected findings such as Maslow's hierarchy or Piaget's stages of development in many textbooks is just ridiculous even if their work influenced a lot of researchers.

Choosing a specialty will depend on your interests. If you just want to read about a bunch of applied research findings, then a Clinical Psychology textbook is probably going to be your best bet. If you want ... (read more)

11Viliam4yFrom my experience the most "value added per book" in psychology is reading Games People Play [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_People_Play_%28book%29]. Just read the "games" and ignore all the psychoanalytical classifications attached to them -- psychoanalysis is highly dubious field, but the examples of the "games" come from real life, and many readers are shocked to find out that some of their life-long problems are actually instances of quite trivial scenarios. Sometimes there is an advice about how to quit playing the "game". I know it's not exactly the kind of book you wanted, but it probably has more everyday applications than anything else. And it is really easy to read (when you skip the psychoanalytical classifications, which are provided separately).
2[anonymous]4yAre you looking for textbooks or pop-psychology?

Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

by [anonymous] 1 min read27th Dec 2015145 comments


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