Student review: Social Psychology

November 4, 2010

Authors: Thomas Gilovich, Dacher Keltner and Richard E. Nisbett

Edition: Second international

Publisher: W.W. Norton

Pages: 800

Price: £32.99

ISBN 9780393932584

Social psychology illuminates and analyses the nature of human beings in their social world, providing insight into all human behaviour relevant to everyone, everywhere, every day. However, psychology students often find that isolating important information is difficult because the literature is so vast, and for first-year undergraduates, particularly those new to the subject, this can be daunting. Happily, this book successfully focuses on the essentials, and introduces new ideas and promotes thought not just about the research findings but also how they are pertinent in teaching us about the social world.

As far as presentation is concerned, Social Psychology doesn't disappoint. Although some may feel that the pages are a little busy, the book uses ample presentation techniques that will enable students (particularly those who prefer not to read solid text for pages on end) to really engage with material.

Each chapter offers copious pictures, diagrams, charts and graphs that help to put the content into context. Figures are always valid, and the book immerses the reader by asking direct questions and explaining their relevance to social psychology. It is rich in definitions that will prove useful for beginners, as a refresher, or for revision purposes. Excellent use is made of "Looking Back" sections; they are an effective way of concluding sections and adding final thoughts. Summaries at the end of each chapter go over and beyond what one would expect, with bullet points for key areas, key terms (and their relevant pages), direction to a website to access additional materials and further reading suggestions (including films).

Readers will also notice highlighted quotes scattered across pages; although they sometimes seem randomly placed, they provide a nice side touch and do not distract from the text.

With reference to content, the textbook covers key topics in a concise manner that does not sacrifice essential information. Perhaps one of the most notable features is the range of studies presented, from classic to contemporary. Highlighting key studies and breaking them down in their own boxes with illustrations communicates them simply but effectively.

For students wishing to expand their basic knowledge and explore further reading, this book will likely not be sufficient. But as an aid to initial learning and as support material, particularly for first-year students, it really delivers.

Who is it for? Undergraduate psychology students looking for a book to bring together classic and contemporary theory and research on basic psychology topics.

Presentation: Completely varied and engaging, and will be loved by those keen to not read dense pages of text.

Would you recommend it? Yes, particularly to first years and those new to the subject.

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