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Recommended Textbooks for Social and Personality Psychology Courses

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Whether you’re teaching a course for the first time or refreshing it for a new school year, a key component of your preparation is deciding on the materials to use. SPSP members recommend the following textbooks for courses related to social and personality psychology. Click “+Comments” to read why they recommend each book.

New recommendations or additional comments can be submitted here.

Courses

Introduction to Social Psychology

Graduate Intro to Social Psychology

Applied Social Psychology

Introduction to Psychology

Introduction to Personality Psychology

Intergroup Relations

Other

 

Introduction to Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers

  • Up-to-date, real world examples focus on current events; well-organized, weaves cognitive dissonance theory throughout; engaging writing style (Vicki Helgeson, Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Historical research coverage as well as current research coverage (T. Joel Wade, Bucknell University)
  • Research-based and coverage is excellent.  Use of bread and butter 2 x 2 is frequent. (John Petrocelli, Wake Forest University)

Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Myers & Twenge

  • Engaging writing style, comprehensive coverage with updated references. (Bob Ridge, BYU)
  • I like the format and organizing structure of how we think about, relate to, and interact with our social world. (Jeni Burnette, North Carolina State Univ.)
  • The text is research-based and not focused repeating/maintaining unfounded research claims or political biases.  It is eminently readable as well. (David Njus, Luther College)

The Social Animal

The Social Animal

Aronson & Aronson

  • Writing is conversational and easily accessible to all students. Organized by central ideas rather than by behavioral subtopic, so it's a different approach than many traditional texts. More detailed discussion of individual studies than I've found in many standard texts. (Julia Omarzu, Loras College)
  • I teach on 10-week quarter system and it's the right amount of length for 10 weeks.  Students enjoy the style of writing, more story style.  It has a test bank.  It's less expensive than bigger textbooks.  It was recently updated.  I also use primary source articles in class. (Brittany Liu, Kalamazoo College)
  • Its nontraditional organization, the personal voice of one of our greatest living social psychologists (now with his son), and its writing from a personal as well as professional point of view are its greatest strengths. Students love this book and don't miss the illustrations and other bells and whistles of traditional texts -- but for them, Elliot Aronson's intro social text, with the excellent coauthors Tim Wilson and Sam Sommers, is perfect. (Carol Tavris)

Social Psychology: The Science of Everyday Life

Social Psychology: The Science of Everyday Life

Greenberg, Schmader, Arndt, & Landau

  • Good examples of theory application. Focuses on culture throughout text. Theory-driven writing, but still remains accessible for upper class undergraduate students. (Colin Zestcott, SUNY Geneseo)
  • Highly readable;  nice, concrete examples and relation to common experiences;  material across chapters is well integrated and order of content flows well;  aptly covers most of the major theoretical perspectives in social psychology;  thorough inclusion of cultural psychology;  appropriate amount of detail for survey course.  (Alyssa Croft, University of Arizona)
  • It does a great job integrating many theories in social psychology and offering a wider perspective on human behavior. I think this makes it easier for students to make sense of the vast variety of studies in the field. (Uri Lifshin, The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya)
  • This textbook does a great job integrating social psychological concepts and theories across multiple content chapters. For example, theories such as cognitive dissonance, terror management theory, and excitation transfer appear in multiple chapters and are used to help explain different concepts across the entire book. Many books tend to treat each chapter at a distinct unit that is somehow unrelated to the rest of social psychology, but this textbook helps weave an integrative story that displays the interconnected reality of the field. From a student perspective, social psychology is a bid diverse field that can be difficult to wrap ones head around. However, by just reading the various chapters, you're exposed to ideas multiple times, which aids in learning and retention and helps connect the dots across the field. Furthermore, I appreciate that cultural research is integrated into every chapter rather than a separate chapter on its own. Many of my students come from diverse backgrounds and by having culture a direct part of every chapter, it helps students connect to the material. Lastly, I appreciate the balanced discussion of contemporary research findings while acknowledging the classic researchers and studies that contributed to the field. (Peter Helm, University of Arizona)

Noba

Introduction to Social Psychology

Multiple authors

  • Adaptable, open source, excellent instructor resources (Sara Brady, Concordia University Nebraska)
  • The biggest perk is that it is free to students. It is well-written, easy to understand, and comes will most of the bells and whistles of the typical textbook.   It is also a modularized text book that you can arrange to your own needs. So, you can include or not include any sections you want and have the course go straight through the text book without needing to skip back and forth between chapters. (Jennifer Howell, UC Merced)
  • Relatively brief, no-nonsense introduction to basic information. Multiple voices because chapters are authored by different people. Customizable by instructor. (Julia Omarzu, Loras College)

Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Hogg & Vaughan

  • It covers all the subjects I am teaching with a great depth.  (Bilge Yalcindag, Nuh Naci Yazgan University)
  • It has a clear narration and it has a European perspective on social psychology (Ozgen Yalcin)

Principles of Social Psychology

Principles of Social Psychology

Open Source

  • High quality and free (Hui Bui, University of Minnesota)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Kassin, Fein, & Markus

  • Nice coverage of classic topics with current updates. Material is structured/organized in ways that 'make sense' to upper level students. (R. Brian Giesler, Butler University)
  • Balanced coverage, up to date, and widely used so my students will have preparation similar to others in pursuing graduate studies (Charles Hill, Whittier College)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Franzoi

  • Nice attention to the self-concept; Great balance of the influence of culture (Deletha Hardin, The University of Tampa)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Smith, Mackie, & Claypool

  • It has a set of core social, cognitive, and motivational principles that provide coherence across different content areas. Excellent. (Jeff Sherman, UC Davis)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Taylor, Peplau & Sears

  • A well-written book from a U.S. perspective; allows me to combine European and American perspectives when teaching (Ozgen Yalcin)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Gilovich, Keltner, Chen, & Nisbett

  • Written at a high level, engages with details of experiments and methodology, well-written. The amount of detail can overwhelm students, though, and they need some careful handholding to get the most out of it. (Kristin Lane, Bard College)
  • Easy to understand, current examples for recent news to illustrate principles coupled with both classic and new studies. (Elizabeth Ossoff, Saint Anselm College)
  • Macro themes introduced in Chapter 1 and then run throughout the text. Many studies are described in enough detail that students can understand how the research is done and the conclusions are reached. Topics cover the field, and appeal to my diverse student body. Teaches the value and results of research. (Jim Uleman, NYU)

 Social Psychology

Social Psychology

Baron & Branscombe

  • Good coverage of topics; however, I do have to supplement with articles for the lab part of the class. It is extremely popular. (Kathryn Ryan, Lycoming College)

 Intro to Social Psychology

Intro to Social Psychology

Crisp & Turner

  • Very lively prose, very good structure and coverage of recent studies (Veronica Benet-Martinez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
 

Graduate Intro to Social Psychology

Advanced Social  Psychology

Advanced Social Psychology

Baumeister & Finkel

  • Lots of chapters to choose from. Covers both basic and applied social psychology. Good introductory graduate text. (Bob Ridge, BYU)
  • Chapters on social psychological topics by experts in the field; I especially love the first two overview chapters. I'd love to see a new edition! (Kate Sweeny, UC Riverside)

Applied Social Psychology

 Applied Social Psychology

Applied Social Psychology

Steg, Keizer, Buunk, & Rothengatter

  • International perspective. (Bob Ridge, BYU)
 

Introduction to Psychology

 Noba

Introduction to Psychology

Biswas-Diener & Diener (Eds.)

  • The book is free, has excellent coverage, excellent writing, and our students love it. As an online modular book, the editors also do a great job of adding new content and making corrections as needed. (Sam Gosling, University of Texas at Austin)
  • The biggest perk is that it is free to students. It is also well-written, easy to understand, and comes will most of the bells and whistles of the typical textbook.   It is also a modularized text book that you can arrange to your own needs. So, you can include or not include any sections you want and have the course go straight through the text book without needing to skip back and forth between chapters. (Jennifer Howell, UC Merced)
  • It's free for students. It has quizzes and extra online resources (videos, links).  It has a good Instructor Manual with activity and demonstration ideas. It has a good test bank.  The chapters are brief (I have to supplement a lot in lecture), but because they're brief the students read them.  (Brittany Liu, Kalamazoo College)
 Psychology

Psychology

Myers & DeWall

  • it is up to date, and widely used so my students will have preparation similar to others in pursuing graduate studies (Charles Hill, Whittier College)
 

Introduction to Personality Psychology

 Noba

Introduction to Personality Psychology

Biswas-Diener & Diener (Eds.)

  • Free, contributions written by top researchers and regularly updated, language accessible to lay reader (Jenn Lodi-Smith, Canisius College)

 Personality Psychology

Personality Psychology

Larsen & Buss

  • Very strong overview of contemporary personality research (Steven Rouse, Pepperdine University)
 The Personality Puzzle

The Personality Puzzle

Funder

  • Good mix of theory and research, both classic and contemporary. Writing is clear and engaging. (Christopher Soto, Colby College)
 

Intergroup Relations

 Privilege, Power & Difference

Privilege, Power & Difference

A.G. Johnson

  • Johnson writes from the perspective of sociology/anti-oppression education, and is therefore quite good at emphasizing the social and structural context of privilege, oppression and intergroup relations more generally. I've found it's a nice complement to a more articles based reading list and is written in an accessible, not so 'textbook-like' fashion that makes for an engaging and valuable read for students, especially for introducing them to the thorny topic of 'privilege'. (Scott Neufeld, Simon Fraser University)

 Whistling Vivaldi

Whistling Vivaldi

Steele

  • I use this as a wonderful supplement. Although Steele is a social psychologist, his research on stereotype threat is highly relevant to personality because "one's reputation, whether false or true, cannot be hammered, hammered, hammered into one's head without doing something to one's character" (Allport, 1958; cited by Steele). Stereotype threat and associated aspects of prejudice about one's identity affects one's behavior, so this book is situated wonderfully at the interface between personality and social psych. Plus, I like knowing that through this book many of my white students and male students are made more aware of aspects of privilege that they may not be aware of. (Steven Rouse, Pepperdine University)
 Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination

Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination

Kite & Whitley

  • Emphasis on research findings, clarity in presentation of materials, scope and range of topics covered (Mollie Price-Blackshear, University of Missouri, Columbia)

Other

 Students' Guide to Social Neuroscience

Cross-Cultural Psychology: Critical Thinking And Contemporary Applications

Levy & Shiraev

  • Unlike most textbooks, this one displays a marriage between empirical and anecdotal evidence that creates a compelling read. It is transparent in its awareness that there are many perspectives to take into account and that a Western experience is not a global experience. I took only one cultural psychology class during my undergrad but this book is open to all levels of understanding and explains it's philosophies in an approachable way. Reminds the reader to think critically of the information they are exposed to and the biases they have when processing the information. Overall, a great resource for all experience levels. (Hannah Anderson, Western Washington University)

Influence: Science and Practice

Influence: Science and Practice

Cialdini

  • Extremely readable, very funny, and written so non-psychologists can understand it--but all while referencing and adhering to solid psychological science. I love this book. (David Njus, Luther College)
 Students' Guide to Social Neuroscience

Students' Guide to Social Neuroscience

Ward

  • I am reading this book on my own which means I am not guided by a professor or another expert in the field. However, this text is the perfect one to navigate without a map. It is designed for students with or without an extensive understanding of neuroscience. It provides interesting anecdotes throughout the text that breaks up the learning in a compelling way. There are additional resources provided - Jamie Ward has lectures on YouTube and there is a student guide online to take virtual quizzes and access even more social neuroscience resources. I'm immensely satisfied with this purchase! (Hanna Anderson, Western Washington University)

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