I love reading, and there is nothing I love more than a good psychology book.
I developed this reading list based off of some of my favourite books over the past few years.
If you are a psychology student, graduate, qualified psychologist, therapist or simply just interested in the topic of psychology then there will be a book in here for you, or maybe two, or maybe all of them!
Check out my reviews of all 20 books and simply click on the name of the book to be taken straight to a link to purchase it!
Blackbox thinking really came at the right time for me.
I had just started my doctorate in counselling psychology and was struggling to come to terms with a failed assignment.
This book really opened my eyes to the power and true purpose of failure.
Blackbox Thinking looks at different professional industries in our society and tries to teach lessons of industries that refuse to learn from failure, those that do and the differences in those industries as a result.
If you want to gain a better understanding of what failure is all about, the purpose and power of what failure can do for us, then this book is a must read!
Carl Rogers is one of the greatest pioneers of psychotherapy and psychology!
His work created a new age of therapeutic work during times of psychodynamic and behaviourist principles.
With a focus on the client as an individual, in their subjective world, Rogers’ work was revolutionary.
This book really encapsulates his ideology and philosophy better than any other.
What’s more, is that you don’t need to be a therapist to really appreciate and gain benefit from his work and knowledge
A new appreciation of the individual, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, an appreciation of the principles in this book and enhance the life of any reader, from any background and profession.
The book, unsurprisingly so, introduces the concept of ‘flow’.
Flow is a state that if reached, it is argued, can enrich the lives of people, and is the key to true happiness.
combination of a number of things such as minimising some of the challenges we catastrophise in life, as well as learning from our failures encapsulates what flow is about, however, it includes so much more.
This book is a bit of a classic in psychology and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Backed with real sound empirical principles this book is one for the people looking to introduce a new concept in their lives to experience some more happiness in 2019!
Thinking fast and slow can be a challenging read I will not deny it
However, this is in the GetPsyched Reading List 2019 because of how thought-provoking it is.
If you can get past the challenges you might experience in reading it, this book talks in great detail about the two different parts of our decision making brain, the logic behind them and how it rules everything we do.
How rational we think we are when we are reactive compared to when we are considered and think situations through thoroughly, is very different from reality.
Similar to his other work, Yalom in the Gift of Therapy talks about his personal experiences and process of becoming the establish therapist he is today.
He goes into brutal detail about his trials and successes, something I rarely come across form professional therapists talking about their work.
The lessons he has learned and is willing to relay to the reader are so so valuable.
I really believe this book is not only a must read for therapists and trainees, but for anyone wishing to develop empathic and interpersonal skills with a desire to communicate and relate to others better.
This is one of those books that I just love picking up every now and again.
It’s by no means a self-discovery or intellectual based book but it is so so fun to read and actually gives more detail than I thought it would at first.
If like me you are interested in the basic principles of psychology but have limited time or resources to remind your self of some of the experiments that established these principles…then this is the book for you.
It gives wonderful illustrations and descriptions of the most famous studies in psychologies history.
It’s so easy to read and a really nice break from some of the harder texts I read often.
This book also looks at some of the ethical and legal issues some of these studies raised as well as their findings and how they still influence our lives and understand of psychology today. A really brilliant book!
Very similar to Pavlov’s Dogs and Other Experiments, the Psychology Book is one of those books I love to big up and just have a scan through.
Its nothing heavy and in truth was actually given to me as a bit of a joke.
It’s honestly brilliant though.
It’s a book that makes some of the most challenging and difficult to absorb concepts and principles in psychology easy to digest.
With awesome illustrations and key facts about studies, research, psychologists and experiments, it is everything you need in order to learn the most valuable points of some of the key principles to psychology.
Being productive is something we probably all wish we could be. We seek out ways to make ourselves more productive and can get pretty down on ourselves when we lack the ability to be productive.
In truth, in today’s day in age, it’s never been harder to be consistently productive.
We are swarmed with opportunities to have our attention drawn in unproductive ways.
We sit down at our computers and demand that we work harder and better…but you’ve just found this iPhone game in the app store, and you just cannot previous high score on Angry Birds!!!!!…this of course was an example given to me by my friend, nothing to do with my own experiences…cough cough.
As much as smartphones and new technology can be hugely beneficial, they can also be misused and can be a major distraction for us in our attempts to be productive.
How then do we become more productive?
How do we learn to get rid of distractions and not let them be a part of the reason why we struggle to get our best work done?
Well, as always, psychology is here to help!
Psychological research and psychological principles can help us learn how to be more productive.
So, what does the research say we should do?
A study in 2011 showed that exercise helps not only young child to stay focussed but adults too, meaning that if you invest time in exercise then you are going to consistently see improvements in your ability to be more productive.
Now, studies have shown that different forms of exercise help focus and productivity in different ways.
Short bursts help with short-term attention spans.
However, studies have shown that those that perform 10 hours of exercise a week have sustained attention spans.
So the more we invest in exercise, exercising consistently and over a longer period of time, then the more likely we are to see improvements in our attention and thus our productivity.
Spend time with nature
Studies have shown the huge mental and emotional benefits of spending time outside in natural environments can have.
So much so that spending time in nature is becoming a more common treatment for children with ADHD, with great effect.
Even as much as simply viewing trees and greenery from your window can have massive benefits for calmness and increasing productivity, studies have suggested.
The benefits of having an ability to be in nature are huge for our productivity levels.
However, not everyone can leave their desk at lunch and head out into the woods…really only Bear Grylls does this.
So, what else can you do?
Well, these studies that look at how nature influences our productivity levels showed that just having some plants in your office can have a similar impact on productivity.
So, the bottom line here is, if you can’t get out in the woods often then buy a Ficus.
Turn off your distractions
In 2015 the Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study that suggested that a distraction lasting just 2.8 seconds can double a person’s chances of making errors in their work.
Distractions are the enemy to productivity.
They are the anti-productivity so to speak.
As a result, they need to be destroyed…well not totally, they at least need to be turned off.
This is an easy thing to consider, but hard to do. What I would say here is, turn your phone off for an hour a day and build it up from there.
Take regular brief mental breaks
You might think working on something for hours means productivity.
You might think that because you haven’t got off your desk chair in 7 hours then you have been productive.
However, more often than not the exact opposite is the case.
You need to take regular mental breaks if you are going to experience increases in productivity.
There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
The Journal of Cognition published a study in 2011 that found that people that took short breaks of about 5 minutes every 50 minutes were far more productive than those that took no breaks.
So the bottom line here is, take regular breaks away from your work and watch your productivity increase
It’s a term that’s used to help people realise and achieve goals and dreams, but what do we mean exactly by visualisation and what impact can it actually have?
Well, fundamentally visualisation is a cognitive tool used to picture exactly what you want to happen.
In doing so we are creating all aspects of the scenario that we to experience or obtain. Now, I mean everything, so that could be sounds, sights, smells, feelings.
The more realistic the visualisation you take part in and the more it stimulates you, the more impact it will have in you realising and moving closer to what you want to achieve.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter gives a fantastic explanation of what visualisation is and its power:
“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more”
So, with this depiction, we can start to understand that visualisation is an opportunity for us to try and control what we are struggling to control.
It is a tool that helps us create what we want to see and achieve.
This all sounds great, ideal, give me some visualisation!
Well, hold on for a second. What is important when thinking about concepts that talk about how they are the key to success, is to look at the research.
What does psychology say about visualisation?
Well, often in psychological services, visualisation boards are used to help illustrate what the client is seeking.
These external tools can help in keeping the client focussed on visualisation.
Visualisation boards are often used for people that want a better future, a healthier lifestyle and even for those attempting to overcome addiction.
In psychological services, concrete objects are often utilised to help with the process of visualisation.
This is often used with patients with depression to visualise a better future and used to great effect.
These concrete objects can include things such as pictures in wallets for example, or mementoes that the individual carries with them.
Visualisation is also used in psychological and therapeutic services for patients with severe anxiety to create mental holidays to retreat to a calmer environment.
This might sound abstract but it has been shown to have incredible effects.
So, it’s clear then that visualisation techniques can be used to incredible effect in therapeutic and psychological contests but where else is visualisation used?
Where else is visualisation used?
Well the easiest one to appreciate perhaps is in the world of sports
Athletes will spend huge amounts of time visualising good performances.
Recent research has in fact inferred that spending time visualising performances and potential different outcomes and responses in sports settings have as much a role to play in how well an athlete performs the practice itself.
I watched the Winter Olympics earlier in the year and saw bob slay team captains pretending to go through the motions of the full course in their minds.
They would turn in ways that they would expect when they go down the track, all to ensure that they fully utilise the power of visualisation.
Visualisation can also be really effectively utilised in a studying context.
For example, you might visualise exams and coursework that you have due. Visualising what questions, you might get asked and best to answer them are all really powerful ways of utilising visualisation in studying.
The trick here, with regards to anything in visualisation, is to go through the entire process.
Don’t just focus on one questions in an exam or one move on the sports field. Visualise the full thing in its entirety.
That means, from waking up that day, to what you have for breakfast, to walking to school or the gym, to entering the room and sitting down and opening the paper…you get the idea.
The important thing is that you go through as many different scenarios in your head in as much detail as possible.
This way, you teach yourself not to expect anything unpredictable. You also reassure yourself of the different outcomes that could happen and how you might react as a result.
How can you use visualisation to great effect in your everyday life?
Well, you might to create your own visualisation board and keep it somewhere that you will see it every day. Whenever you walk past it, take some time to visualise what it is you desire as you look at the pictures.
When I was studying for exams, I used to pin my notes and mind maps around my house and when I went to the fridge for milk, there would be some notes there, I would take my time and read them through and visualise how I might use them in a potential question in an exam.
When I went to go out the front door, there would be another page of notes and I would do the same.
I was utilising visualisation to improve my upcoming performances.
Fundamentally guys, visualisation is seriously powerful, it’s not just a generic term thrown around by people who think they know what they are talking about, it has real psychological backing and is a toll that you can use every day to achieve and progress more in whatever you want to do.
Interested in learning more about visualisation? The check out the recent video I did about the psychology of visualisation on my YouTube channel GetPsyched by clicking the link here.
Part of the reason why I love psychology so much is that it’s not just for professors and academics.
Psychological principles can be used by anyone who has a little understanding to great effect.
I once had a psychology tutor who told me that as psychology students, we were at an extreme advantage with regards to studying for classes, assignments and exams.
We already knew what worked and what didn’t work.
We were learning the very techniques and principles that other fields tried to apply to their study patterns and regimes.
Learning new things is one of those concepts that we all wish we could be better at.
We might here new and interesting information, yet struggle to retain it and access it when we need it most.
Psychology and psychological principles can help with this though. There are numerous ways in which psychology can help us learn new things better.
You can find out so much more information on how psychology can help you learn new things better by checking out a video I did on this subject on my YouTube channel GetPsyched. Check out the video by clicking here.
In this article, I am going to give you a number of psychologically backed principles and interventions you can use to learn new things better.
So, let’s get to it.
STATE DEPENDENT RECALL
This basically means you have a place where you learn stuff.
A secluded and quiet location where you do your most profound thinking and learning.
Use this place often and make it your environment to absorb new information.
For me personally, that would be my back bedroom that has a desk in it, I can sit on my office chair and feel comfortable in that environment to give my full attention to what I am learning.
It’s peaceful, has natural light, and is simplistic and minimalistic enough to the point where I won’t get distracted.
What’s more is that when the door is shut, others know that I’m really busy or invested in a task and don’t want to be disturbed.
Put it this way, you’re not going to learn new stuff best if you keep changing the environment, at a bar or watching TV for example.
THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
This sound fancy but it basically means holding yourself accountable for your own learning.
If you think others learn stuff better because they are just smarter than you, then your suffering from the fundamental attribution error.
Holding yourself accountable for your learning and thinking about what you can do to improve it will always assist in learning new things.
Now, this is a technique often used in classrooms by teachers.
It basically means extending the amount of time before trying to recall something you have learned.
By increased the time between recall, you improve our ability to learn the new information
You can try this out yourself pretty easily actually. Learn something new and give yourself 5 minutes to then recall it by memory. If you get it then extend that 5 minutes to 30 minutes, then an hour, 6 hours, a day, 3 days and so on.
To the point where you can recall the information over a large amount of time.
By extending the period of time between recalling new information, we stretch our brain and memory continually to the point where it is forced to keep responding to new and challenging circumstances.
As a result, we not only learn new things better, but we also retain them at an improved rate.
This basically means you should try and learn new things via more than one method.
If you simply read something new and leave it at that, then your limiting yourself and your ability to learn and retain new information.
You could try some of the following examples as learning tools that could be used together. Draw a picture of what you are trying to learn, create a mind map, or speak it out to yourself.
By increasing the number of learning tools and format’s, you learn much faster.
THE METHOD OF LOCI
This sounds a bit weird but it’s a form of mnemonics that help you remember new information better.
Used by the ancient Greeks, you remember new information by the location that you place them in in your mind.
In the modern day, people have been able to memorise thousands of pieces of new information via this method.
They didn’t start out like this, but what they do is actually construct full cities in their head and place each piece of new information in different areas, locations and buildings around this city in order to memorise this new and vastly complex information very quickly and effectively.
There are ways that you can use this tool for yourself. For example, remembering items or pieces of information by storing them in different rooms in a house you have created in your mind has been shown to have incredible effects for learning new things.
This is a technique that you really need to try out for yourself!
UNDERSTAND YOUR WORKING MEMORIES CAPACITY
Your working memory, which is your ability to retain different pieces of useful information, has a limit.
This limit usually is capped at around 7 pieces of new information in most circumstances.
By understanding this better, you can schedule your breaks better that we spoke about earlier and retain more accurate new information more effectively and over longer and more sustained periods of time.
UNDERSTAND YOUR METACOGNITION
Firstly, what is metacognition?
Its fundamentally our ability to assess and understand our own skills and learning capabilities.
By understanding your own metacognition you’ll begin to see that you perhaps aren’t taking enough time to learn new information.
Cognitive psychologists have time and time again found that a lack of understanding of metacognition has led to poor retention of new information.
Basically, you need a level of self-awareness for what your needs are when learning new information and how you learn new information best. That way, things should start to make more sense.
So, those are my top tips on how to learn new information better. These tips are really effective but they don’t come overnight. What I suggest is that you give them all a try, see what ones, and what combination, works best for you and practice them a lot!
Al the best with learning all that new info brainiac!!!
Motivation is a strange concept, we can feel motivated to do a number of different things, but often we don’t fully see them through.
Often, we might think we are motivated to complete a task, and yet struggle when things get too difficult or when we fail.
The truth is, there are loads of things they we wish we were doing, but often we don’t undertake them or push forward to achieve them, but why is this?
The first thing we need to consider is a change in our language.
Something we would like to do is vastly different from something we want to do. It is the dichotomy of true desire and passive thought.
If we truly want something, then we are much more likely to go out and get it. So, the first point of call when assessing and developing our self-motivation is to think, is what I am working towards something I really want, or something I would like to do?
If it’s the later, then there’s a bit of an issue.
Perhaps thinking about who you are doing this for, what you might gain from achieving it, or how far you have come already will aid you in developing your ‘would like’ into a ‘want’.
The next thing for you to consider is to question yourself, are you scared to progress forward in your life?
Ron Siegel from Harvard University gives a cognitive neuroscientific perceptive here. He says that we are hard-wired to continuously expect danger in new situations.
That fundamentally means changes, or new circumstances, elicit feelings of anxiety and concern before they elicit feelings of anticipation or excitement.
Therefore, it is likely that the first thing we do will be to highlight the potential for failure, or harm to ourselves when undertaking something new. This can be really difficult when developing a sense of self-motivation.
So how do we combat this?
Well, it might sound simple, but focusing on the positive and the opportunity over the chance of failure is what is key here.
If we highlight the chance of failure instead of seeing the positive possibilities in a new task or venture, then we are much less likely to be motivated to push forward and achieve what we want, especially if and when times get hard.
So, focus on the potential positive opportunity rather than the chance of failure!
Perhaps this can be better highlighted with an example that I’m sure you can appreciate.
I have a friend who smokes and keeps attempting to stop. Time and time again he says, ‘this is my last one’ or ‘I really would like to give this up’ (again we are back to ‘would like to’ and ‘want to’ from earlier).
However, he always returns to smoking, making some lame excuse as to why he hasn’t given up, or he just ignores people altogether when he is pulled up about it.
He lacks self-motivation and can’t seem to stop.
Fundamentally, this is because the focus is with the fear of pain that he might experience in quitting, as opposed to the massive positive impact it could have on his life. He focusses on the difficulty he will experience in trying to quit, rather than the potential health improvements.
The cravings etc. are what the immediate effects would be, the health improvements are much further down the line and require discipline to progress through the negative effects of quitting smoking.
This is fundamentally what he struggles with, and is a perfect example of someone who focusses on the potential for failure, rather than the opportunity for positive success in the long run.
What makes this even more prominent and what makes it even harder for people to become self-motivated is a fixation on immediate reward, rather than long-term and sustainable gain.
Short-term immediate gain over longer sustainable and more profound gain is what stops people from being motivated in the future.
It’s what makes people stick to a job they hate rather than quit, take a pay cut and start a business of their own.
It’s what makes people go to parties rather than study for upcoming exams that will inevitably improve their future.
So, what can we possibly do about this?
My first piece of advice here would be to write out all the potential failures and successes you might experience as a result of doing what you desire.
Then, attempt to fully emotionally engage with them, experience how it would feel to fail and to succeed at what you want to do.
If we use our previous example, try and emotionally engage with the challenges and difficulties of going through cravings when quitting smoking. Then engage with how it would feel to be healthier and fitter as a result.
By experiencing the emotions as in-depth as we can, we, in turn, develop our awareness and expectations of what might happen if we fail and if we succeed.
I’m willing to bet that if you fully engage with this, then the joy of succeeding and getting what you want will be so enticing that you’ll become much more self-motivated to take that leap.
So, after all of this, how do we know if we are self-motivated or not?
Well, all you really have to do is ask yourself these 4 questions:
Can you do it?
Do you really want it?
Will it work?
Is it worth it?
If you answer yes to all of these above questions, then consider yourself self-motivated…congratulations!!!
Self-motivation is not something we are born with, nor is it something that we just stumble across one day.
It is something we work on.
Don’t be disheartened when you fail or you procrastinate, what matters is that you seek to develop your self-motivation as much as possible on a daily basis.
With this understanding and applying these tips, you’ll be well on your way!
Also, be sure to stay up to date with my YouTube channel GetPsyched as self-motivation and the development of self-motivation is something I’ll look at in the coming weeks. You can subscribe and hit the bell next to the subscribe button to get reminders of when I upload!
Reading journal articles can be one of the most time consuming and challenging aspects of any form of higher study.
Whether it’s for general reading, preparation for an essay of for a presentation coming up, journal searching and reading is a necessity.
However, its common that journal searching and reading can be really challenging and time-consuming. There are some tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that have with this process, which I’m going to share with you here.
THE BASIC SEARCH
Before anything happens, we need to actually find some good journal articles relating to our field of study and the topic we are looking at.
Here is an example essay question so we have a guide for our journal search – ‘Critically evaluate the theoretical and empirical literature that accounts for the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on young people under the age of 16 suffering from severe anxiety’
Now, the process of fully understanding your essay question is something I have already covered on my YouTube channel GetPsyched, take a look at the video here.
However, what do we do with a question like this when we need to search for journal articles?
Well, some general background reading will be helpful for the essay answer. We need to obtain some articles on cognitive behavioural therapy (both theoretical and empirical literature) and we need to find literature on severe anxiety in young people under the age of 16.
The first thing to do here is to establish some key search terms you want to look up online and in other resources for relevant articles. Some examples of good search terms based on our example question may be as follows:
‘Effectiveness of CBT’
‘Criticisms of CBT’
‘CBT and young people’
‘Severe anxiety in young people’
‘CBT and severe anxiety’
For me personally, the first thing I do to get my basic background reading is to go to Google Scholar and type in these key terms. See what hits you get and if you find any relevant sources.
What I am attempting to do here is to develop a background reading list. The articles you find here will be useful and will no doubt be referenced in your assignment; however, we will come to the point where we need more specific studies that have researched exactly what we are looking at. However, we’ll come to this.
Now, with Google Scholar it can sometimes be helpful to put ‘PDF’ at the end of your search. That way all the articles that are freely available through Google Scholar relevant to your topic, will come up in your search.
The next step would be to go through the resources available to you at your university. Via journal access or other means, typing in your background reading terms into a search engine from your university can be really helpful.
A few key tips:
You cannot use Wikipedia obviously, but you can Wikipedia what you want to look at and go down to the reference list they have used and access some studies that way. I have found this really helpful in the past.
When reading journals that are relevant t your topic, be sure to see what they have reference and what sources they have used. You can then access them and perhaps use them in your own work.
THE ADVANCED SEARCH
Ok, so by now you have done a bit of basic searching via Google Scholar and have some articles that are relevant to your question.
This is a good position to be in with your search so far. However, we need to step it up a little and begin some more advanced searches to find some sources that will be even more relevant to our question.
We do this via database searches.
Now, accessing databases can be very different for pretty much any university. Hopefully you will have access to your university library online, in which case you should be able to access databases. If you are struggling with this, then my best advice is to go and speak with your library directly and gain access that way.
So, what are databases?
Databases are basically a massive collection of different journals based on subject. It basically stops you having to go through ever journal in your field of study to find relevant sources. By searching in a database, you effectively are searching multiple journals all at ones.
Database searching is one of the most effective ways to find the articles you need.
Now, there are a few databases that I love to use in psychology, the first is PSYARTICLES, the second is PSYCH INFO and the third is Science Direct.
My advice is to start with these as these are pretty user-friendly and go from there.
Now, remember the whole purpose of us using the databases is to find sources that are really specific and relevant to our topic. So, if we go back to the question – ‘Critically evaluate the theoretical and empirical literature that accounts for the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on young people under the age of 16 suffering from severe anxiety’ – We want to be looking for articles that have to do with the effectiveness of CBT on young people under 16 suffering from severe anxiety. We’ve done our basic search and now want to get to a more advanced level of article searching.
Now, I could write a whole blog on database search, which I might do in the future but for now, I’m just going to give you a few tips and tricks to get the most out of database searching.
Always use the advanced search option.
This was you can be more specific
Use quotation marks in your search.
If you search for something like – severe anxiety – you’ll get thousands of articles that are related to articles that have the word severe in them, and articles that have the word anxiety only. We don’t want this, we want to get sources that are related to both. So, instead what we do is we search for “severe anxiety” in the search bar. The quotation marks group the two together, we get a much smaller search hit total and all the articles we find will be related to severe anxiety as one.
Use multiple search bars at once.
This is a feature you will only find in the advanced search option.
You’ll have the option to add another search bar, and when you do you have the opportunity to add more detail to your search.
So, what we might do here is search for “severe anxiety”, then add another search bar and search for “effectiveness of CBT”.
Now, when we add this other search bar we will have a drop-down menu next to it that gives the option of either AND, OR, NOT.
This speaks for its self. In our case, we want to search for “severe anxiety” AND “effectiveness of CBT”
So, what happens here is we are going to get articles that are relevant to the effectiveness of CBT on severe anxiety.
We might eventually also add ‘young people’ into another search bar to focus the search even more.
Utilise the additional options after you have your search results.
After you have your search results from the database, you have options to condense the year of publication and where the articles come from etc.
Use these options at your own discretion, they can be really helpful to reduce your hit rate and find the most relevant sources. Especially when you get a hit rate in the tens of thousands, which is common.
The bottom line is that journal searching always takes up more time that you first anticipate.
It can be really frustrating too when you can’t get the sources you need. Hopefully, with these tips and with a systematic understanding of how to be successful in your basic search and your advanced search, journal searching challenges will be a thing of the past.
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