Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour, thoughts, emotions, and interactions. It can help us understand ourselves and others better, improve our well-being, and enhance our performance in various domains of life. Whether you are a student, researcher, employee, athlete, coach, manager, or leader, reading psychology books can offer you valuable insights and practical strategies to cope with challenges, achieve your goals, and live a happier and more fulfilling life.
However, not all psychology books are created equal. Some are based on solid research and evidence, while others are full of pseudoscience and pop psychology. How can you tell the difference? And which books should you read to get the most out of your time and effort?
In this article, I will share with you my personal list of the top must-read psychology books that I think are worth reading this year. These books are not only informative and engaging, but also relevant and applicable to your personal and professional growth. They cover a range of topics, such as happiness, motivation, persuasion, decision making, resilience, creativity, learning, and more. For each book, I will provide a brief synopsis of the main ideas and a summary of how it can help you improve your life. I will also include some examples and excerpts from the books to illustrate their key points.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the list of the best psychology books to read this year.
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
This book is one of my favourites because it combines the wisdom of ancient philosophers and religious thinkers with the findings of modern psychology and neuroscience. The author, Jonathan Haidt, explores ten universal themes that have been proposed as the keys to happiness by various cultures and traditions throughout history. These themes include the role of virtue, relationships, meaning, love, work, adversity, spirituality, and more.
Haidt examines each theme from both an ancient and a modern perspective, showing how they are supported or challenged by scientific evidence. He also offers practical advice on how to apply these insights to your own life. For example, he suggests that you can increase your happiness by finding your strengths and using them in the service of something larger than yourself; by cultivating gratitude and optimism; by developing your emotional intelligence; by balancing your needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness; by seeking growth rather than comfort; and by aligning your actions with your values.
The Happiness Hypothesis is a book that will make you think deeply about yourself and the world around you. It will challenge some of your assumptions and beliefs, but also inspire you to pursue your own happiness hypothesis.
As Haidt writes:
“Happiness comes from between. It comes from getting the right relationships between yourself and others, yourself and your work, and yourself and something larger than yourself.”
Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what drives human behaviour and how to harness it for positive outcomes. The author, Daniel Pink, argues that the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivation is outdated and ineffective in the modern world. Instead of relying on external rewards and punishments, we need to tap into our intrinsic motivation: the desire to do things for their own sake.
Pink identifies three elements of intrinsic motivation: autonomy (the need to direct our own lives), mastery (the desire to get better at something that matters), and purpose (the yearning to contribute to something larger than ourselves). He shows how these elements can be applied to various domains of life, such as work, education, parenting, health, and creativity. He also provides examples of individuals and organizations that have successfully implemented these principles in their practices.
Drive is a book that will change the way you think about motivation and performance. It will show you how to motivate yourself and others more effectively by appealing to your innate human needs. It will also help you find more meaning and satisfaction in what you do.
As Pink writes:
“The secret to high performance and satisfaction — at work, at school, and at home — is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
This book is a classic in the field of social psychology and one of the most influential books on persuasion ever written. The author, Robert Cialdini, is a professor of psychology and marketing who has spent decades studying the principles and techniques of persuasion. He identifies six universal principles of influence that can be used to persuade others to say yes to your requests. These principles are:
- Reciprocity: People tend to return favours and feel obligated to repay debts.
- Commitment and Consistency: People like to act in ways that are consistent with their previous commitments and self-image.
- Social Proof: People look to others for guidance on how to behave in uncertain situations.
- Authority: People tend to follow the advice of experts and credible sources.
- Liking: People are more likely to comply with requests from people they like and trust.
- Scarcity: People value things more when they are rare or limited.
Cialdini explains how these principles work in various contexts, such as sales, marketing, negotiation, communication, and persuasion. He also provides examples of how they can be used ethically and effectively to achieve your goals and influence others positively. He also warns against the pitfalls and dangers of being manipulated by others who use these principles unethically.
Influence is a book that will teach you how to master the art and science of persuasion. It will help you understand how people think and behave, and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. It will also help you protect yourself from being influenced by others who do not have your best interests at heart.
As Cialdini writes:
“The ever-accelerating pace and information crush of modern life will make this particular form of unthinking compliance more and more prevalent in the future. It will be increasingly important for the society, therefore, to understand the how and why of automatic influence.”
Thinking, Fast and Slow
This book is a masterpiece by one of the most influential researchers of our time, Daniel Kahneman. He is a Nobel laureate in economics and a pioneer in the field of behavioural economics. He reveals the two systems that govern our thinking: System 1, which is fast, intuitive, and emotional; and System 2, which is slow, deliberate, and logical. He shows how these systems interact and influence our judgments, decisions, and actions.
Kahneman exposes the various biases, heuristics, illusions, and fallacies that affect our thinking and behaviour. He demonstrates how we often rely on System 1 to make quick and easy decisions, but sometimes overlook important facts or alternatives that require more effortful thinking from System 2. He also explains how we can improve our thinking by becoming more aware of our own limitations and errors, and by applying some simple rules and techniques to overcome them.
Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book that will challenge your assumptions and beliefs about yourself and the world. It will make you more aware of your own mental processes and how they affect your choices and outcomes. It will also help you improve your critical thinking skills and decision making abilities.
As Kahneman writes:
“The way we think affects almost every aspect of our lives. Learning to think clearly is hard work but it pays off.”
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
This book is a powerful and inspiring exploration of one of the most important factors for success in any domain: grit. The author, Angela Duckworth, defines grit as the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals. She argues that grit is more important than talent, intelligence, or luck in achieving excellence.
Duckworth shares her own personal story of how she discovered the power of grit, as well as the stories of many other gritty individuals, such as athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders. She also reveals the science behind grit, showing how it can be measured, developed, and cultivated. She offers practical advice on how to find your passion, set your goals, overcome obstacles, learn from feedback, and persist in the face of failure.
Grit is a book that will motivate you to pursue your dreams and aspirations with courage and determination. It will show you how to develop your grit and use it to overcome any challenge you may face. It will also help you inspire and support others to become more gritty.
As Duckworth writes:
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
This book is a ground-breaking and influential work on the psychology of happiness and creativity. The author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a pioneer in the study of positive psychology. He introduces the concept of flow, which is the state of being fully immersed and engaged in an activity that challenges and rewards your skills. He argues that flow is the key to finding meaning and joy in life.
Csikszentmihalyi explains how flow works, what conditions foster it, and what benefits it brings. He also provides examples of how people from different walks of life experience flow in various domains, such as sports, arts, work, education, and leisure. He also offers practical advice on how to achieve flow more often and more easily in your own life. He suggests that you can increase your chances of finding flow by choosing activities that match your interests and abilities; by setting clear and attainable goals; by focusing your attention on the task at hand; by seeking feedback and adjusting your performance; and by overcoming distractions and obstacles.
Flow is a book that will inspire you to discover and pursue your passions and potentials. It will show you how to enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. It will also help you enhance your creativity and productivity.
As Csikszentmihalyi writes:
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
This book is a revolutionary and empowering work on the psychology of learning and achievement. The author, Carol Dweck, is a leading researcher on motivation and personality. She reveals the power of mindset, which is the way we view our abilities and potential. She distinguishes between two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are fixed and cannot be changed. They tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, ignore feedback, and feel threatened by the success of others. People with a growth mindset believe that their traits can be developed and improved through effort and learning. They tend to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, seek feedback, and celebrate the success of others.
Dweck shows how mindset affects various aspects of our lives, such as education, work, sports, relationships, and self-esteem. She also provides examples of how people can change their mindsets and achieve more than they ever thought possible. She offers practical advice on how to cultivate a growth mindset in yourself and others. She suggests that you can develop a growth mindset by changing your self-talk, praising your efforts rather than your outcomes, embracing failures as opportunities to learn, and seeking mentors and role models who exemplify a growth mindset.
Mindset is a book that will change the way you think about yourself and your abilities. It will show you how to unlock your potential and achieve your goals. It will also help you foster a growth mindset in others and create a culture of learning and excellence.
As Dweck writes:
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
This book is a fascinating and practical guide on the science and art of habit formation and change. The author, Charles Duhigg, is a journalist and a Pulitzer Prize winner who has investigated the role of habits in various domains, such as personal, organizational, and social behaviour. He explains how habits work, what triggers them, and how they can be modified or replaced.
Duhigg introduces the concept of the habit loop, which consists of three elements: cue, routine, and reward. He shows how we can identify the cues that trigger our habits, the routines that we perform automatically, and the rewards that reinforce them. He also provides examples of how we can use this knowledge to create new habits or break old ones. He offers practical advice on how to use habits to achieve our goals, improve our health, boost our productivity, and enhance our happiness.
The Power of Habit is a book that will help you understand and control your own behaviour and influence the behaviour of others. It will show you how to use habits to your advantage and overcome the challenges that prevent you from changing them. It will also help you create a culture of habits that supports your values and vision.
As Duhigg writes:
“The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.”
Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention
This book is another masterpiece by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is also the author of Flow. In this book, he explores the nature and sources of creativity, which he defines as the process of producing something that is both novel and useful. He draws on his extensive interviews with more than 90 creative individuals from various fields, such as arts, sciences, business, and politics. He analyzes their personalities, motivations, experiences, and strategies for cultivating their creativity.
Csikszentmihalyi identifies three main components of creativity: the domain (the field or discipline where the creative work takes place), the field (the social system that evaluates and recognizes the creative work), and the person (the individual who produces the creative work). He shows how these components interact and influence each other in the creative process. He also provides examples of how we can enhance our own creativity by developing our skills, finding our passion, seeking challenges, collaborating with others, and transcending ourselves.
Creativity is a book that will inspire you to discover and express your own creative potential. It will show you how to nurture your creativity and apply it to various domains of life. It will also help you appreciate and support the creativity of others.
As Csikszentmihalyi writes:
“Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives… Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity… When we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
This book is a practical guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day. The author, James Clear, is a self-improvement expert and a popular blogger who has studied the science and art of habit formation. He introduces a framework called the Four Laws of Behaviour Change, which are:
- Make it obvious: Design your environment and cues to make your desired habits more visible.
- Make it attractive: Use positive reinforcement and temptation bundling to make your desired habits more appealing and rewarding.
- Make it easy: Reduce the friction and effort required to perform your desired habits and increase the friction and effort required to perform your undesired habits.
- Make it satisfying: Use immediate feedback and tracking to make your desired habits more satisfying and enjoyable.
Clear explains how these laws work, why they work, and how to apply them in various contexts, such as personal, professional, and social behaviour. He also provides examples of how people from different backgrounds and levels have used these laws to create new habits or break old ones. He offers practical advice on how to use habits to achieve your goals, improve your health, boost your productivity, and enhance your happiness.
Atomic Habits is a book that will help you understand and control your own behaviour and influence the behaviour of others. It will show you how to use habits to your advantage and overcome the challenges that prevent you from changing them. It will also help you create a system for getting 1% better every day.
As Clear writes:
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Stephen R. Covey
This book is a timeless and influential work on the psychology of success and leadership. The author, Stephen R. Covey, is a renowned educator, author, and speaker who has inspired millions of people with his principles and practices. He presents a holistic and integrated approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness, based on the alignment of one’s character with universal and timeless principles.
Covey introduces the concept of the 7 habits, which are:
- Habit 1: Be Proactive: Take responsibility for your life and actions, and choose your responses to any situation.
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Define your vision, mission, and values, and set your goals accordingly.
- Habit 3: Put First Things First: Prioritize your activities based on their importance and urgency, and manage your time and energy accordingly.
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win: Seek mutual benefit and cooperation in all your interactions, and avoid competition and conflict.
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Listen empathically to others, and express yourself clearly and respectfully.
- Habit 6: Synergize: Value the diversity and differences of others, and leverage their strengths and perspectives to create better solutions.
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Renew yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Covey explains how these habits work, why they work, and how to apply them in various contexts, such as personal, professional, family, and social life. He also provides examples of how people from different backgrounds and levels have used these habits to achieve remarkable results. He offers practical advice on how to develop these habits and use them to transform your life.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a book that will help you develop your character and leadership skills. It will show you how to become more effective in achieving your goals and influencing others positively. It will also help you create a legacy of excellence and contribution.
As Covey writes:
“To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.”
How To Win Friends & Influence People
This book is a timeless and influential work on the psychology of success and leadership. The author, Dale Carnegie, is a renowned educator, author, and speaker who has inspired millions of people with his principles and practices. He presents a holistic and integrated approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
Carnegie introduces four main sections of the book, which are:
- Fundamental Techniques in Handling People: How to avoid criticism, resentment, and arguments; how to appreciate and praise others; and how to arouse enthusiasm and cooperation.
- Six Ways to Make People Like You: How to become genuinely interested in others; how to smile and be friendly; how to remember names and details; how to be a good listener and conversationalist; how to talk in terms of others’ interests; and how to make others feel important and appreciated.
- How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking: How to avoid confrontation and disagreement; how to show respect for others’ opinions; how to admit your mistakes and apologize; how to appeal to noble motives and ideals; how to dramatize your ideas and use illustrations; and how to challenge and stimulate others.
- How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment: How to begin with praise and honest appreciation; how to call attention to mistakes indirectly; how to talk about your own mistakes first; how to ask questions instead of giving orders; how to let others save face and dignity; and how to encourage and motivate others.
Carnegie explains how these techniques work, why they work, and how to apply them in various contexts, such as personal, professional, family, and social life. He also provides examples of how people from different backgrounds and levels have used these techniques to achieve remarkable results. He offers practical advice on how to develop these techniques and use them to transform your life.
How To Win Friends & Influence People is a book that will help you develop your character and leadership skills. It will show you how to become more effective in achieving your goals and influencing others positively. It will also help you create a legacy of excellence and contribution.
As Carnegie writes:
“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.”
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
This book is a captivating and inspiring work on the psychology of creativity and fulfillment. The author, Ken Robinson, is a renowned educator, author, and speaker who has advocated for the transformation of education and the cultivation of human potential. He introduces the concept of the Element, which is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. He argues that finding and pursuing your Element is the key to discovering your true self and living a more meaningful and joyful life.
Robinson explores the conditions that enable or hinder us from finding our Element, such as culture, education, environment, and mindset. He also shares the stories of many people who have found their Element in various domains, such as arts, sciences, business, and sports. He shows that age and occupation are no barriers to finding your Element, and that it is never too late to start or change your journey. He also provides practical advice on how to identify your talents and passions, and how to integrate them into your personal and professional life.
The Element is a book that will help you unleash your creativity and achieve your highest potential. It will show you how to find your passion and purpose in life, and how to express them in your own unique way. It will also help you appreciate and support the diversity and creativity of others.
As Robinson writes:
“The Element is where natural aptitude meets personal passion.”
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
This book is a provocative and insightful work on the psychology of choice and satisfaction. The author, Barry Schwartz, is a professor who has studied the effects of choice on human well-being. He argues that having too many choices can be detrimental to our happiness and well-being. He shows how the abundance of choice in modern society can lead to anxiety, stress, regret, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.
Schwartz explains how choice overload can affect various aspects of our lives, such as consumer behavior, health care, education, work, and relationships. He also reveals how we can cope with choice overload by adopting some strategies, such as limiting our options, simplifying our decisions, being satisfied with good enough, and expressing gratitude. He also suggests that we can improve our society by reducing unnecessary choices and increasing the quality of life for everyone.
The Paradox of Choice is a book that will make you rethink your assumptions and beliefs about choice and freedom. It will show you how to make better choices and be happier with them. It will also help you appreciate and enjoy the choices that you have.
As Schwartz writes:
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
What do you think of this list? Comment below your thoughts 👇🏼
So this was my list of psychology books that I'd recommend you read this year. Here, I'd like to note that some people may find some of the books a little difficult to understand due to technical jargon and field-specific vocabulary. In that case, I'd suggest that you first familiarize yourself with articles contained in this website.
If the articles and books have filled you with renewed optimism and enthusiasm for life, then I'd encourage you to read the article below: