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The 10 Best Psychology Books For Beginners To Jump-Start your Education

What books should I read if I’m interested in psychology? What are the best psychology books for beginners? These are common questions people ask themselves if they want to learn psychology by themselves. And while it might seem intimidating if you’re just getting started, don’t get discouraged. It’s fully possible to become an expert in understanding how the human mind works. Figure out why people behave in a certain way. Spot errors in the way you act and make proper adjustments.

Finding the best psychology books to read, especially if you’re a beginner, is not an easy task. Our libraries are crowded. Supposedly great titles that aim to make you a swift persuaded or a mind reader are everywhere. Books that promise to help you figure out others so you can find the ultimate way of controlling a conversation or simply calming folks when they are feeling stressed are all over the place.

To find the best ones for you personally, you should stop. Stop and consider a couple of questions. The first question you should ask yourself if you want to uncover the hidden traits in your, and others, personalities, is this one: What type of field I want to start exploring? What type of discipline do I want to get better at?

There are different types of psychology. Yes, I was amazed, myself, when I first started reading about human behavior but it soon became apparent to me that it’s not only about how we behave. There is behavioral psychology. Cognitive psychology. Evolutionary psychology. Even the secret society of dark psychology.

But let say you’re just getting started. If this is the case, congratulations. I’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest, beginner-friendly psychology books for newcomers. These are easy to read and will introduce you to the core concepts about the human mind and how we’re structured to work. (You’re a psychology student? Check this list then: Best Psychology Books For Students).

The 10 Best Psychology Books For Beginners:

1. The Psychology Book by Nigel C. Benson

The Psychology Book Big Ideas Simply Explained book cover photo

What’s the book about?

If you’re a total beginner in the field of psychology, a newbie. It’s best to start with this book. It’s a combination of more than 100 ideas in the field of – yes! you guessed it – psychology. The book covers a lot of ground. How it all started – the history of psychology. The most recognized names, ideas, and fundamental concepts around behaviorism, psychotherapy, and developmental psychology. Plainly, this is an easy-to-get encyclopedia of the fascinating field of psychology. It’s also excellent for children who are taking their first steps into their teenage years.

Who is it for?

People who are just getting started in the field of psychology. The pictures and the nicely designed pages will break it down for you. You’ll understand the most interesting bits and pieces in the area of psychology. Expect: lots of big ideas simply explained and backed with a lot of images, so you can familiarize yourself with all major concepts.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“Despair evaporates when we stop denying who we really are and attempt to uncover and accept our true nature.” Nigel Benson

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2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie book cover photo

What’s the book about?

One of the most praised books in the self-help industry. Dale Carnegie teaches us how to win friends by focusing on a couple of simple techniques. The most overlooked technique to get others to like you and join your side? Listen to them. Really listen. This is a bestseller for a simple reason. The stories and the methods are timeless. The book is easy to understand and easy to implement. And lastly, what Carnegie teaches us about influencing is not to force others to do stuff they don’t like. It’s about acknowledging their personalities and desires and finding the optimal solution for both of the parties.

Who is it for?

I read How to Win Friends and Influence People more than 10 years ago. While I’ll probably find the content of the book cheesy now, I highly recommend it to people who want to improve both their personal and professional lives. This book will open your eyes to so many possibilities. One important thing, even if you find the advice mentioned too simple and too vague, follow them. I can assure you that you’ll see positive changes in your relationships with others once you obey the commands of Dale Carnegie.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

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3. The Emotional Brain by Joseph E. LeDoux

The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux book cover photo

What’s the book about?

Our brains are full of complex systems. And while you surely don’t need to know everything, you definitely need to understand this part: our emotions govern our actions. This book will explain, in a relatively easy-to-understand way, what is the so-called “emotional brain” and why you need to care about it. Once you introduce yourself to the emotions your brain produces, you’ll better understand yourself and finally stop reacting with strong annoyance, displeasure, or hostility when the situation doesn’t require it.

Who is it for?

The Emotional Brain is a very good introduction to the emotional side of our brains. If you still don’t know that it’s not just you. That there are also emotions that are actually the ones that control you. You will finally reveal your hidden motives in your daily actions and escape from what was previously almost impossible to get out of situations. So essentially, this book is for people who want to properly manage their moods and their relationships with others.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“We do not tremble because we are afraid or cry because we feel sad; we are afraid because we tremble and sad because we cry.” Joseph E. LeDoux

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4. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

The Happiness Hypothesis book cover photo

What’s the book about?

We are happier when we are surrounded by friends and family members, but we’re still restlessly pursuing career success and more money. Where this leads us? To more misery and more suffering. By sharing great stories and by making connections between religion, ancient philosophy, and psychology, the author wants to help us move away from pain and get closer to pleasure.

Who is it for?

People who are stuck in the rat race. Folks who have more than enough but who are still pushing for even more. This book aims to teach you about the things that have real value in our lives and persuade you that some things shouldn’t be on focus – continuous pursue for acquiring more money and playing status games.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology. But if you have just ended a relationship and would like to believe you are better off without love, read philosophy.” Jonathan Haidt

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5. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd book cover photo

What’s the book about?

We are consistently wrong about many things. Our memory is terrible. We tend to misremember how we felt in the past. And we are terrible at predicting what type of activities or things will make us feel joy in the future. This book aims to explain why we are awfully unimpressive at knowing what is going to make us satisfied in the long term. Daniel Todd Gilbert will bombard you with plenty of questions that will allow you to define what happiness means for you.

Who is it for?

If you are constantly fooling yourself on what sorts of things or relationships will bring you joy. If you are terrible at predicting what activity will make your life better. This book is for you. Full of brilliant, funny, and science-based stories, the revelations in this book will help people add an extra dose of joy to their lives.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“Most of us appear to believe that we are more athletic, intelligent, organized, ethical, logical, interesting, open-minded, and healthy-not to mention more attractive-than the average person.” Daniel Gilbert

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6. The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova

The Confidence Game Why We Fall for It book cover photo

What’s the book about?

A mesmerizing book that looks at how con artists are able to persuade millions of people. Why Ponzi schemes work and why we are still failing into “obvious” scams. Maria Konnikova explores the secret world of charlatans. What mind games they play on us and most importantly, why we continue to label “too good to be true” stories as legitimate.

Who is it for?

Totally recommended to naive people who are new to the field of psychology. This book will not only show you how other people take advantage of you, but also save you a lot of money. By gaining the ability to quickly identify pyramid schemes, you’ll finally understand that there isn’t such thing as free money.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“The confidence game—the con—is an exercise in soft skills. Trust, sympathy, persuasion. The true con artist doesn’t force us to do anything; he makes us complicit in our own undoing. He doesn’t steal. We give. He doesn’t have to threaten us. We supply the story ourselves. We believe because we want to, not because anyone made us. And so we offer up whatever they want—money, reputation, trust, fame, legitimacy, support—and we don’t realize what is happening until it is too late.” Maria Konnikova

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7. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi book cover photo

What’s the book about?

The famous author, with you’ll-never-say-his-name-right, introduces the concept of “optimal experience.” This book explains in length what types of tasks can unlock true happiness. How you can concentrate better, improve the quality of your work and enter the magical space of flow – a place where you are 100% focused on the current task. This book is heavily mentioned by all productivity experts for a good reason. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches us exactly what the title entails – diving “in the zone” when you do certain things.

Who is it for?

Especially good for people who are having a hard time concentrating. Thanks to the content of the book, you’ll understand how you should approach your tasks. What exactly you need to do to improve your skills in your field of choice. Furthermore, it will help you figure out what type of activities you should aim towards and what type of activities you should ditch.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“On the job people feel skillful and challenged, and therefore feel more happy, strong, creative, and satisfied. In their free time people feel that there is generally not much to do and their skills are not being used, and therefore they tend to feel more sad, weak, dull, and dissatisfied. Yet they would like to work less and spend more time in leisure.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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8. The Path to Purpose by William Damon

The Path to Purpose by William Damon book cover photo

What’s the book about?

Commonly prescribed for parents, this book can surely help everyone who is struggling to find a sense of purpose in his life. William Damon investigates why so many young people these days are unable to find a career path that seems worthy. Why inspiration is usually a missing ingredient in the life of most teenagers, and why these same youngsters seemingly can’t figure out what they should do with their lives.

Who is it for?

For everyone who can’t find his place in this world. I’ll personally recommend this book to all young people. Even if you do know what you want to do, this book will help you define your goals even better. Also, for individuals, regardless of age, who are still aimlessly wandering around the hemisphere, this is a must-read book. It offers a variety of practical tasks that will give you a sense of direction.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“My mom “wants me to have my own choices, but she wants my choices to be math and science.” Ben, age twelve

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9. How Children Fail John Holt

How Children Fail John Holt book cover photo

What’s the book about?

A scientific approach to how children learn – or more precisely, how they do not learn. John Holt focuses on providing us with gimmick-free lessons on how teachers should teach children. Instead of forcing knowledge through clever teaching methods. He provides insightful information about how students naturally learn new information. This allows us to tailor our approach, which leads to better communication between teachers and children.

Who is it for?

Often cited as the go-to guide that can positively transform our flawed educational system. How Children Fail will provide knowledge workers with useful insights on how to modify their approach in school. Also, as you can guess, it’s especially good for parents who want to educate their children. How to prepare them for the world by enhancing their thinking and problem-solving skills.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“For many years I have been asking myself why intelligent children act unintelligently at school. The simple answer is, “Because they’re scared.” I used to suspect that children’s defeatism had something to do with their bad work in school, but I thought I could clear it away with hearty cries of “Onward! You can do it!” What I now see for the first time is the mechanism by which fear destroys intelligence, the way it affects a child’s whole way of looking at, thinking about, and dealing with life. So we have two problems, not one: to stop children from being afraid, and then to break them of the bad thinking habits into which their fears have driven them.” John Holt

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10. The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris

The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris book cover photo

What’s the book about?

The Invisible Gorilla is one of the best psychology beginner books for a simple reason: the hidden gorilla experiment demonstrating our inattentional blindness is heavily cited in other famous books. The title explains in an accessible language why and how our eyes can fool us. What type of information remains hidden for the mind to see. And, what are our biases we usually don’t see in the way our brains cope with the world.

Who is it for?

If you haven’t watched the famous invisible gorilla video, go ahead and check it now – you can see the video here. It still amazes me how some people are not able to see the gorilla in the video. If you’re wondering the same, this book will go through the experiment in length. It’s a great read that will help you understand how focused attention can make you blind to the outside world.

Thought-Provoking Quote:

“Beware of memories accompanied by strong emotions and vivid details—they are just as likely to be wrong as mundane memories, but you’re far less likely to realize it.” Christopher Chabris

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Some Closing Thoughts

The field of psychology is an important academic discipline. Yet, few people understand how crucial what glass-wearing knowledge workers who study the mind can teach us.

Regardless of your age, you need to take some time to study how we are designed to operate. What type of mistakes we tend to make and how we can adjust our behavior.

The recommendations above are what I can label good psychology books to read for beginners. I’ve intentionally picked easy-to-read titles. Such that are absent of complicated terms and impossible to get concepts.

After all, if you are new to the field of psychology, you’d want to start with something light. Don’t hope to get everything. Focus on understanding the basics. I can assure you that the more you learn about how we behave, the more you’ll want to learn. Once you figure out the essentials, move on to some more complicated reads – my list of psychology must-reads.

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