If you want to understand how your brain works, how we make decisions and influence others then these books will help you.
It’s the list of best psychology books, so far.
It is my favourite list, and I have also provided the “Preview” option.
1. Just Listen
It’s my absolute favourite book.
Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist and it teaches you how to take control over your emotions; how to understand others and how to influence them.
What I like about him is that he explains using multiple real-life examples. It is an easy-to-read book but it contains really valuable and practical information.
I learned to:
- Empathize and understand why someone behaves in a certain way.
- Make people feel valuable
- Be calm in stressful situations because there is always a solution.
Of course, there’s a lot to learn from this book but the three lessons above helped me the most.
The feeling of happiness comes from 4 chemicals: Dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin and serotonin. Each one of them triggers an emotion.
This book shows you how these chemicals work, their importance, and how they “rule” your life.
You can learn how these chemicals influence our decisions and how crucial are for the surviving of any species in this world.
Daniel Kahneman is the first psychologist to win a Nobel Price in Economic Science (2001).
He explains the two systems of the mind:
System 1 is fast, intuitive, emotional, and operates with little to no effort
System 2 is slow, effortful, and more logical
It is a lengthy book, but I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning about how humans behave.
Why a 50- cent Aspirin can do what a penny aspirin can’t?
Why Dealing with cash makes us more honest
Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist at MIT reveals some really interesting experiments on how we make irrational decisions.
You can learn about different situations where people think they’re making a rational decision but in truth, they’re not. Crazy isn’t it?
Martin Lindstrom is a brand-building expert, advising Fortune 100 brands from Coca-Cola to Red Bull.
In this book, Martin shares some interesting techniques that companies use to make us buy more.
Here are some of them:
- Panic and Paranoia – How they use fear to sell. Fear is your “old friend” because it helps you prevent any danger. But in this case, fear might be causing you to spend more than you need.
- Peer Pressure – Marketers know the rule: “Humans want what other Humans want”
- Nostalgia – Relating a product with the feeling of nostalgia is a very powerful persuasion tactic.
- The End of Privacy – Companies know about you more than you think. How they use data to predict your next purchasing decisions?
- The background music you hear at the supermarkets.
The book is full of psychological tricks, research, and interesting social and psychological experiments.
For example, in the last chapter Martin tells the story of Mogenon’s family.
A family of stealth marketers who move into an upper-middle neighbourhood.
The purpose of this multi-dollar experiment was to test the seductive power of word-of-mouth marketing.
6. What Everybody is Saying
How to read Body Language?
Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI counterintelligence officer and in this book, he explains how to read people and decode their behaviour.
He also gives examples of the cases and observations he made during his career.
Who can read people better than an FBI agent?
7. The Charisma Myth
Some people think that charisma is a quality you’re born with. Well, this is not true.
Olivia F. Cabane reveals the psychology behind charisma. And it offers lots of practical tips and techniques to become a highly charismatic person.
8. The Charismatic Personality
We’ve seen different charismatic people influencing others. There are books that explain how to be charismatic. But, this book offers a different perspective.
It focuses on the childhood of the most notorious charismatic people and how their upbringing influenced their behaviour when they grew up.
Stephen Covey reveals 7 habits that will make someone more effective professionally and personally.
The 7 habits are:
1. Be Proactive – You are the creator. You are in charge
2. Begin with the End in Mind – It means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. To know where are you going to so you can better understand where are you now and take the right steps to go there.
3. Put First Things First – Learn how to manage your time
4. Think Win-Win – In every human interaction seek for a win-win situation. You shouldn’t reach success at the expense or exclusion of others.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – Learn empathic listening
6. Synergize – A manifestation of all habits together
7. Sharpen the Saw – Preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have.
The habit that resonates with me most is being proactive.
I learned that no matter how hard the situation is, I have a choice – To let the situation hurt me even more OR change my response to it. To not focus on what I can’t do but on what I can do.
I was also inspired by the story of Victor Frank.
And this leads us to the next awesome book…
10. Man’s search for a meaning
It is the memoir of Victor Frankl. He was a psychiatrist and he was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany.
His parents, brother and his wife died in the camps.
Except for his sister, his entire family perished.
Based on how he was treated, he argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and how to move forward.
Do you know people who make your life harder? I’m talking about people who bring you down with their negativity, criticism or anger.
A solution would be to avoid them at any cost, but there are some people that you can’t avoid.
So, a practical solution is to understand them and learn why they behave that way.
This book offers a simple guide showing you how to handle difficult people.
12. Emotional Vampires
First of all, I like the title. It explains what this book is about in two words.
This book is about people that don’t suck your blood but every ounce of your energy.
They are regular people you meet on the street, a boss, a family member or a lover.
At first, they look better than other people. They’re charming and make you like them.
You invite them on your life, you expect more from them and you get less. And often you realize the mistake only after they disappear leaving you with an empty wallet, or perhaps a broken heart.
The author shows you how to cope with 5 types of vampires- Antisocial, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Obsessive-compulsive, and Paranoid.
Over the course of 40 years as a psychologist, he has seen that these people cause the most trouble.
13. Mistakes were made but not by me
Why some people don’t accept a mistake when proved wrong?
Why we can see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves?
Social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a look into how the brain is wired for self-justification.
This book shows that often people delude themselves and what you can do about it.
The famous book from Robert Cialdini. It explains in details the 6 weapons of influence:
1. Reciprocity – When someone does something nice for you, you also want to do something nice for them.
2. Consistency – People who make small commitments tend to be consistent with their behaviour.
3. Social Proof – We are influenced by what other people are doing.
4. Liking – People buy from people they like.
5. Authority – Since we’re young we’re taught to respect authority figures.
6. Scarcity – We tend to value things that are scarce. That’s why the message ” Limited Edition” is so powerful.
15. Way of the Wolf
A book about selling from Jordan Belfort, the real Wolf of Wall Street himself.
If you want to learn the psychology of selling, then this book is a perfect fit for you.
Here Jordan explains in details the SLP which stands for “Straight Line Persuasion“.
It is packed with easy-to-implement techniques that will increase your confidence in sales and your closing rate, of course.
16. The Lucifer Effect
It is the work of 30 years where Dr Philip Zimbardo explains factors that create “the perfect storm” for someone to turn from good into an evil person.
It tells for the first time the full story behind the Stanford Prison Experiment.
A study conducted in 1971, where normal college students were randomly assigned to play the roles of guardians and prisoners on a simulated prison. Yet, the guards become so brutal they had to interrupt the experiment in just 6 days. (It was predicted to last 2 weeks).
17. Psych 101
This book is a great introduction to psychology. It explains experiments and topics in a fun way.
The author explains how our mind works. And the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind.
It was once thought that the brain is like a complex machine, with each part having a specific function. And if you damage one part you lost that function. But a new field called neuroplasticity explains that if a part is broken the other parts will be more powerful to compensate for the loss.
For example, if one goes blind, the part of the brain responsible for the hearing or touch improves.
Psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D, has met both scientists championing neuroplasticity and patients whose life was transformed.
Dr Norman wrote this inspiring book that will alter the way we see the brain and human potential.
20. Get out of your own way
Often, we behave in a way that keeps us away from our main objective
Saying that I want to quit alcohol and then having a beer with a friend
Trying to get out of debt and then spending money on unnecessary products
Being angry and saying things you regret later
Focusing on the mistakes of others
After you catch yourself in, you say, ” I can’t believe I did that again! or I should have known better”.
Mark Goulston explains the forty common self-defeating behaviors. Study them and follow the advice they contain.
21. The Science of Human Hacking
This is not a typical Psychology book, but if the topic of Social Engineering intrigues you (like me), then you’ll love this book.
The Author explains lots of tech & psychological tricks social engineers use to get information about a target and how to influence them.
Jordan Peterson is a Clinical Psychologist and a psychology professor in the University of Toronto. He has more than 30 years of experience in the field of clinical psychology.
In this book, Jordan explains the order and chaos.
The order is when you act according to well-understood social norms, and remain predictable and cooperative. Chaos, in contrast, is when/where something unexpected happens.
I believe the author’s intention was to help you bring order in your life and prepare yourself for the chaos when it comes. And in my opinion, he reached that goal.
John Medina, a molecular biologist, lists 12 rules that help explain how the brain works. And it helps you create better habits to increase thinking ability.
Here are a few handpicked guides for you to read next: