by Kosslyn and Rosenburg (c) 2007
I don't know how you spent your lockdown, but (after a long period of doing not very much) I decided to use the time to take some on-line classes, and one of them was revisiting Psych 101, and this was the textbook. Right from the top, it should be noted that this is the third edition. There is a more recent fourth edition, renamed Introducing Psychology: Brain, Person, Group.
When I took classes like this on college, textbooks were a source of dread. They were heavy, expensive, boring, and for all of that, never seemed to provide answers so much as confusion, since they never quite agreed with what the teachers taught, leading us to wonder if they even read these things themselves. Well, times change, and now I'm an old weirdo who actually likes to read textbooks and academic materials, no matter how dry they might seem. And so, as soon as I got the book, I started from page one and read the whole thing.
A great deal of thought seems to have gone into the structure of this book. Every Intro to Psychology course outlines the basics of this discipline, including history, neurology, and different theories, and this book is no different. To it's credit, it's written in a very readable style. Each chapter explores an element of the mind sciences, and each chapter builds on the information in the chapter before it, so it's very logical, and the examples of behavior are taken from examples we all know about including sports movies and public figures, like Tiger Woods and Jackie Chan. Starting with chapters on basic neurology, there are chapters which attempt to clearly define and explain sensation and perception, memory, motivation and emotion, etc. At the end of each chapter there's a 15 question multiple choice quiz (with answers) as well as some topics to inspire further discussion. I probably would have hated that in college, but I found the quizzes very helpful for reviewing the information. on top of that, the publisher offers additional, downloadable material on MP3 to listen to on the go (I have not accessed any of that). every page also highlights key phrases, and marginal notes synopsize important points to make studying easy.
A novel approach (as far as I know) is the book's stress on evaluating ever element of mind and behavior from The Three Levels of Analysis-- brain, person, and group. It's an excellent way of analysis because most things work on all three of these levels at the same time. The level of the Brain is or course neurological and neurochemical, the level of the Person deals with, of course, the person, their behaviors and feelings, and the level of the Group, which involves how those psychological elements help (or hurt) the individual interact with the society around them. Too often we can develop a microscopic or macroscopic view and lose sight of the whole picture, so the frequent use of this model through the chapters is excellent training for thinking in this discipline.
The authors have extensive credits and credentials in their field both in neurology and psychology on staff at Harvard and several others Ivy League institutions. They also have extensive book credits for psych text books.
A few gripes: As a hypnotist, I'm always a little disappointed at how dismissive, if not actually hostile, many psychologists are (except the ones who have learned hypnosis. They usually love it). This book touches on hypnosis only very lightly and in an off hand way. They mention that it might help with memory, it might help with sports performance. No serious discussion of it as a scientific therapeutic modality (though in fairness, that may be more appropriate for a more advanced course).
While the various principles and studies the authors give are all extensively backed by scientific data, as you would expect for a science text, some of it seems a bit.. rushed? Remember when you had a deadline for a paper and you threw in a bunch of examples but didn't really document or explain them them clearly? I kind of got the feeling the authors were working against a deadline. with the advent of Google and the internet, I, or you, can now fact check for inaccuracies (for example getting the dates wrong for Kohlberg's Dilemma, a study of morality and emotional development. They reference related data from 1969 and 1994, while the actual study was from the mid 50s, and that one decade is makes a huge difference. The 1950s was for the most part still the paleolithic era, and it is apparent in some of the roughness of the way the data was organized. The following decade or so would be literally revolutionary, in the sciences as elsewhere). There are minor things and probably corrected in the more recent edition of a book that covers a lot of ground.
A more general gripe, is not with the book but with the standard "academic" way this subject is taught. Looking back at it now, and with years of experience tiptoeing through people psychs, as well as years of experience trying to appeal to people's feelings when working in advertising, I'd much rather hav a class that explored the concepts first, and left all that history and mechanics to more advanced classes. For one thing, the history is a lot more interesting when you have a firm grasp of where the practice is today. For another a person has better retention of the facts when they can fit all that into a fleshed out concept. Save the history and the minutia for later.