Books on human behavior and psychology?

I love reading into human psychology and behavior, so what books would you recommend me to read?

It can be anything. Thank you! :)
Please add a brief about the book(s). Thanks!


Most Helpful Guy

  • Psych books I've read

    "Predictably Irrational" and "The Upside of Irrationality" by Dan Ariely. Basically what it sounds like; how and why and when people behave irrationally. Both very readable.

    "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Jon Haidt. Again, pretty much what it sounds like; what makes people happy, and what doesn't, along with some other miscellaneous psych goodies.

    "The Dream Drugstore" by Allan Hobson. This explains what's going on in your brain when you're sleeping, with an emphasis on dreaming. It's a bit technical, perhaps more on the neuroscience side than the psychology side, but it discusses (and largely refutes) Freudian theory.

    Any of Oliver Sachs's books are interesting, though light-weight, looks at clinical psychology.

    "The Lucifer Effect" by Philip Zimbardo discusses how ordinary people can do awful things. He's the guy who ran the infamous Stanford Prison Trial, and the first half of the book is dedicated to that.

    "Gut Feelings" by Gerd Gigerenzer describes how many unconscious processes produce "gut feelings" that actually turn out to be more successful than cold, sober reasoning. It's fascinating.

    "Calculated Risks", also by Gerd Gigerenzer discusses how the human brain is not equipped to process statistics on an intuitive level, and how people who should know better (eg doctors) routinely fub their statistics.

    "The Blank Slate" by Steven Pinker is a classic nature vs nurture discussion that critiques that argues largely in favor of the power of genetic influence on behavior, critiquing modernism, post-modernism, and feminist theories of psychology, among others.

    "The Stuff of Thought", also by Steven Pinker, is a linguistic approach to how various mental faculties do what they do. It can be dry, but it's certainly enlightening.

    I'm probably forgetting a few, but that's a start.


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What Guys Said 5

  • Here's two good documentaries.

    The infamous Stanford prison experiment in the early 70's

    a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted from August 14–20, 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. It was funded by a grant from the US Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the US Navy and Marine Corps in order to determine the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.

    Twelve students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Another twelve of the same 75 were selected to play the Guards. Roles were assigned randomly to the 24 men. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond what even Zimbardo himself expected, leading the "officers" to display authoritarian measures and ultimately to subject some of the prisoners to torture. In turn, many of the prisoners developed passive attitudes and accepted physical abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily inflicted punishment on other prisoners who attempted to stop it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his capacity as "Prison Superintendent", lost sight of his role as psychologist and permitted the abuse to continue as though it were a real prison. Five of the prisoners were upset enough by the process to quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. The experimental process and the results remain controversial. The entire experiment was filmed, with excerpts made publicly available.

    A Class Divided:


    One day in 1968, Jane Elliott, a teacher in a small town in Iowa tried a daring classroom experiment. She decided to treat children with blue eyes as superior to children with brown eyes. This is the story of that lesson and it's impact on the children 30 years later.

  • I enjoyed "Tuesdays with Morrie"

    It is a nonfiction book written by a journalist who documents the slow and agonizing process of his favorite college professor dying from a terminal disease. It sounds sad, and it is of course, but it is also uplifting and inspirational as Morrie tries to impart a lifetime of wisdom before he passes away.

  • How about paul ekman, both his facial expression and deceit book?

    • Give me a brief, please.

    • ekman does work at UCLA involving expressions, he's developed a facial action coding system in which facial expression are measured. "Lie to me" is a fictitious show based of his work. His emotion books deals with identifying expressions as well as discussing what are normal stimuli for these emotions. His deceit book deals with how to identify dishonesty- he really is a consultant for many law enforcement agencies and is quite qualified. He has also met the dali lama and has a good outlook

  • Time Magazine

    How to use your brain

  • Fight Club


What Girls Said 3

  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's a fiction novel, but it contrasts child and adult psychology, and explores the manipulation of it.

    Non fiction wise? (cos I know you love your non fiction) I am a little unsure, I don't really read a lot of contemporary non fiction. I would recommend Plato's Symposium - it offers various psychologies behind the concept of love, and how it differs amongst different people. Also, Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill discusses people's innate tendency to do the right thing. I found it incredibly idealistic, but it's a good read. *shrugs*

  • What about Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky)? Or The Outsider (Richard Wright)? They both involve analysis of the thoughts and tribulations of two young "guilty" males to the point where you almost sympathesize with them...fascinating reads imo!

  • Malcolm Gladwell wrote a few books. The Tipping Point, Blink, and I forget the last one. They are about thought and stuff. They are kind of alternative and different but good.

    • Eh, beware of Gladwell. As Steven Pinker describes him,

      "a minor genius who unwittingly demonstrates the hazards of statistical reasoning and who occasionally blunders into spectacular failures."

    • What about him? Never head of such critics... In fact, I love many of Gladwell's books. Of course it's not anything revolutionary that'll flip the world upside down but I find his reasonings very interesting to ponder upon. Don't you think?

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