Last updated: August 18, 2021

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Welcome to Monederosmart. Psychology is a branch of knowledge that since the beginning of the 20th century has become one of the most important disciplines for the study and understanding of the human being. If you are interested in this area professionally or simply for general culture, a good book is the right starting point.

A great deal of ink has been written about psychology, as its antecedents date back to the Socratic and Aristotelian postulates of Ancient Greece. However, Wilhelm Wundt is generally regarded as the founder of modern psychology, just as Sigmund Freud is the best known theorist.

In this article you will find all the information you need to buy the best psychology book on the market. Keep in mind that this is an area of knowledge with many ramifications and variables, so we advise you to consider several of the following aspects before making your purchase.




The most important

  • Psychology books are texts that compile positions, models and theories on the functioning of the human mind and its reflection in society. They offer the reader, expert or not, a look at people's behaviour on a rigorous scientific basis.
  • These titles are often camouflaged among the self-help books, as many bookstores tend to place them in the same section. The main difference between the two genres lies in the scientific and multidisciplinary value of psychology texts. A distinction should also be made between those that are academic, popular or novels.
  • These types of books usually have a specific approach to specific phenomena. Therefore, it is important to consider the branch of psychology, literary genre, subject of study, application and support when visiting your trusted bookstore.

The Best Psychology Books: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about psychology books

You might think that the study of psychology is restricted to professionals. Fortunately, there are books accessible to the general public that take into account the needs of contemporary societies. Here are some important questions about psychology books.

Psychology helps us to know ourselves and others better. (Photo: Ivan Kruk / 123rf)

What is a psychology book and what are its advantages?

A psychology book is any text of scientific value that compiles theories, postulates and opinions based on the study of the human mind and its behaviours. Titles may vary in their approach based on branches of psychology and target audiences.

Psychology books have the virtue of being divided into very specific studies and perspectives, as each branch of psychology studies different processes. Moreover, it is a science that is put into practice in everyday life, so books may contain numerous examples or cases.

The disadvantages lie mainly in the academic language they tend to use. Although some titles are intended for the general public, not all of them take the time to explain the basic concepts of psychology. This can lead to confusion or loss of interest for some readers.

Advantages
  • Wide variety of topics
  • Plurality of positions
  • Theoretical-practical information
  • Scientific validity
Disadvantages
  • Use of technical language
  • Some texts may become outdated
  • Often confused with self-help books
  • May require prior knowledge

Psychology books or self-help books?

A bad habit of some bookshops is to mix the psychology and self-help genres in the same section. Although the latter may be based on the study of the mind, it is important to distinguish their differences so that you can make a purchase according to your interests.

Psychology. The main characteristic of psychology is its scientific validity. This implies that laws and theories can be empirically testable and measurable. In addition, psychology is a whole school of thought from which other disciplines such as psychoanalysis and behaviourism are derived.

Self-help. Comprises all those cultural products (not only books) that seek to offer alternatives for emotional healing through positive attitude. They are often criticised for their lack of scientific value, as they focus their content on unilateral processes or lack a holistic approach.

Psychology Self-help
Value Scientific Commercial
Approach Multidisciplinary Disciplinary
Language Academic, informative Rhetorical, persuasive
Ideological cut Objective Subjective

What are popular psychology books?

Popular science books are somewhere in between academic and self-help books. They are often confused with the latter because of their accessible language and the fact that many of them have established themselves as bestsellers. However, the content is very different.

A popular psychology text has the virtue of bringing to the general public some of the most interesting findings of science that are also applicable to everyday life. They are a great option for those who want to avoid professional language when studying specific topics.

Buying criteria

Psychology is a science within everyone's reach. Most people see it as an important alternative for understanding life processes in contemporary urban societies. In order for you to choose your ideal book from thousands of titles you can apply the following buying criteria.

Branch of psychology

Psychology is a branch of knowledge that has expanded its horizons into numerous branches or specialisations. Each one deals with different phenomena from particular approaches. Here are some of the most popular 'schools' in the study of the mind.

Psychoanalysis. Founded by Sigmund Freud, this model studies phenomena related to people's emotional lives, which are attributed to repressive processes in the subconscious. It is usually the basis for books searching for anomalies, disorders or pathologies related to the mind.

Behaviourism. Through this theory it is understood that human behaviour is the product of external and internal stimuli. It is usually the theoretical axis of those books that focus on the study of education in babies and children, as well as work groups at a sporting and business level.

Cognitivism. This school is concerned with the study of learning processes. This involves understanding how people acquire, process, interpret and store information. Most of the theories related to pedagogy and training systems are based on cognitive psychology.

Literary genre

There are different ways of expressing the same idea. The sciences are not exempt from using literary genres to communicate their findings. In order to get the content you want, be sure to check the type of writing the author of your book uses.

Academic. Complementing the above, academic texts comprise articles, collections, case studies and postulates. The language is formal-technical and there are constant references to previous texts as a theoretical framework. Your ideal choice if you are a psychology professional.

Essays. Also known as academic essays, they are relevant for incorporating observations, analysis and well-founded opinions. This type of title is extremely useful when you are looking for an ideological contrast between various authors and to obtain in-depth explanations of certain phenomena.

Novels. The study of the mind has been a notable inspiration for many cultural products throughout history. The literary and cinematographic genre of suspense has adopted principles of psychology for its creations, thus resulting in resources to obtain archetypical characteristics of pathological cases.

Subject of study and application

Part of the fine line dividing self-help books and popular psychology lies in the subject of study. Much will depend on the model that underpins the text, but conventional psychology books usually invite the reader to ground the knowledge in one of two possibilities through hypotheses or practice:

Internal application. This is when the book seeks to invite the reader to implement the diagnoses and knowledge acquired in his or her own person. We can consider books on emotional intelligence, dream interpretation or interpersonal relationships within this category.

External application. Some titles aim to provide the reader with tools to understand the world around them. Think of books that deal with topics such as body language, children's behaviour or even pets. Everything is focused on executing learning in the environment around us.

If you are doing a research paper in psychology, try to use academic references. (Photo: ammentorp / 123rf)

Support

Technology allows us to find an unimaginable wealth of texts on the internet. However, there are times when media or formats are of paramount importance in order to carry out activities or list reliable sources of information. Here are the main differences.

Printed books. Despite the rise of digitisation, the traditional medium remains a viable option because of its reliability and rich history. Printed books have the advantage of being found in repositories or specialised libraries, where they share space with titles of high intellectual value.

E-books. The main value proposition focuses on mobility. When a psychology book is purchased for the purpose of having bibliographical references at hand, the electronic version is adequate. In addition, some books have multimedia elements such as external links, illustrations and videos.

(Featured image photo: Igor Zakharevich / 123rf)

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