The best cognitive psychology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to cognitive psychology, and here are their favorite cognitive psychology books.
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What type of cognitive psychology book?


Understanding How We Learn

By Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, Oliver Caviglioli

Book cover of Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

Lara Alcock Author Of How to Study as a Mathematics Major

From the list on studying undergraduate mathematics.

Who am I?

I am a Reader in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University in the UK. I have always loved mathematics and, when I became a PhD student and started teaching, I realized that how people think about mathematics is fascinating too. I am particularly interested in demystifying the transition to proof-based undergraduate mathematics. I believe that much of effective learning is not about inherent genius but about understanding how theoretical mathematics works and what research tells us about good study strategies. That is what these books, collectively, are about.

Lara's book list on studying undergraduate mathematics

Discover why each book is one of Lara's favorite books.

Why did Lara love this book?

Research in cognitive psychology has revealed a lot about human learning and how to make it more effective. Most mathematics students – and indeed their professors – know very little about this research or how to apply it. Weinstein and Sumeracki’s book explains how psychologists generate evidence on learning, gives a basic account of human cognitive processing, explains some strategies for effective learning, and gives tips for applying them. It is not about mathematics and it certainly will not make advanced mathematics simple, but I think that we would all have an easier time if we were more aware of some common misunderstandings about learning and effective ways to improve it.  

By Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, Oliver Caviglioli

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding How We Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Educational practice does not, for the most part, rely on research findings. Instead, there's a preference for relying on our intuitions about what's best for learning. But relying on intuition may be a bad idea for teachers and learners alike.

This accessible guide helps teachers to integrate effective, research-backed strategies for learning into their classroom practice. The book explores exactly what constitutes good evidence for effective learning and teaching strategies, how to make evidence-based judgments instead of relying on intuition, and how to apply findings from cognitive psychology directly to the classroom.

Including real-life examples and case studies, FAQs, and…

How We Learn

By Stanislas Dehaene,

Book cover of How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now

Paul Thagard Author Of Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?

From the list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the highest achievements of human intelligence while a graduate student in philosophy working on the discovery and justification of scientific theories. Shortly after I got my PhD, I started working with cognitive psychologists who gave me an appreciation for empirical studies of intelligent thinking. Psychology led me to computational modeling of intelligence and I learned to build my own models. Much later a graduate student got me interested in questions about intelligence in non-human animals. After teaching a course on intelligence in machines, humans, and other animals, I decided to write a book that provides a systematic comparison: Bots and Beasts.  

Paul's book list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

Stanislas Dehaene is one of the leading European cognitive scientists and this book provides a deep discussion of the neuroscience of learning, a key component of intelligence. He makes a strong case that current machine learning techniques are inferior to the processes that operate in human brains even in the womb. He draws out important implications for education concerning how people learn best.

By Stanislas Dehaene,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How We Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There are words that are so familiar they obscure rather than illuminate the thing they mean, and 'learning' is such a word. It seems so ordinary, everyone does it. Actually it's more of a black box, which Dehaene cracks open to reveal the awesome secrets within."--The New York Times Book Review

An illuminating dive into the latest science on our brain's remarkable learning abilities and the potential of the machines we program to imitate them

The human brain is an extraordinary learning machine. Its ability to reprogram itself is unparalleled, and it remains the best source of inspiration for recent…

Book cover of Perception and Misperception in International Politics

Christopher J. Fettweis Author Of The Pursuit of Dominance: 2000 Years of Superpower Grand Strategy

From the list on unconventional stories on US national security.

Who am I?

I’m a political scientist who specializes in US foreign policy. I’ve been interested in war and peace – and avoiding the former – for as long as I can remember. More than anything else, I wish I could convince Americans of how safe they are, relatively speaking, and how safe they can remain if only we make wise decisions moving forward. The future is brighter than we think.

Christopher's book list on unconventional stories on US national security

Discover why each book is one of Christopher's favorite books.

Why did Christopher love this book?

The current war in Ukraine cannot be understood without reference to the rampant misunderstandings and misperceptions that animate both sides. 

This book is the bible of misperception, and for my money, the greatest book ever written about international politics. In it, Jervis explains how countries rarely understand one another; misperception is the rule in national security, not the exception. And those misperceptions all point in one direction: They make other actors appear more belligerent than they are.

Because of predictable psychological processes, we tend to think that they can’t be trusted....and as a result, cycles of hostility and misperception follow. And finally, war.

If I could get presidents to read one book of political science, this would be it.

By Robert Jervis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perception and Misperception in International Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its original publication in 1976, Perception and Misperception in International Politics has become a landmark book in its field, hailed by the New York Times as "the seminal statement of principles underlying political psychology." This new edition includes an extensive preface by the author reflecting on the book's lasting impact and legacy, particularly in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making, and brings that analysis up to date by discussing the relevant psychological research over the past forty years. Jervis describes the process of perception (for example, how decision makers learn from history) and then explores common…

The Elephant in the Brain

By Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson,

Book cover of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

Jason Brennan Author Of Democracy: A Guided Tour

From the list on democracy, its promises and perils.

Who am I?

I’m a philosopher by training and professor of economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University’s business school. My work often begins by noting that philosophy debates often take certain empirical claims for granted, claims which turn out to be false or mistaken. Once we realize this mistake, this clears the ground and helps us do better work. I focus on issues in immigration, resistance to state injustice, taboo markets, theories of ideal justice, and democratic theory. I’m also a native New Englander now living near DC, a husband and father, and the guitarist and vocalist in a 70s-80s hard rock cover band.

Jason's book list on democracy, its promises and perils

Discover why each book is one of Jason's favorite books.

Why did Jason love this book?

This is perhaps the best, most illuminating book on human nature ever written. You’ll walk away having a better understanding of people behave as they do, and why so many institutions and behaviors fail to achieve their stated goals. 

Simler and Hanson’s main thesis is that we are designed, by evolution, to act upon hidden selfish motives. We all benefit from general cooperation, but as individuals, we each benefit if others are cooperative, while we skirt the rules a bit and act selfishly. But we face two problems. One is that this works only if we don’t get caught.

The second is that other people have evolved to be good at reading our minds and assessing our intentions, especially over repeated interactions. Evolution’s solution, Simler and Hanson argue, is that in our conscious minds, we earnestly and sincerely believe we act on noble motives, while we subconsciously pursue status, power,…

By Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Elephant in the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we know about our own ugly motives, the better - and thus we don't like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is "the elephant in the brain." Such
an introspective taboo makes it hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our…

Book cover of The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From the list on development from childhood to middle age.

Who am I?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Discover why each book is one of Jay's favorite books.

Why did Jay love this book?

This one does not follow children from childhood to adulthood, but rather reveals how 100s of years ago events occurred that radically changed who people interacted with, married and spent their lives relating to.

It is a bold, strikingly original, and epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that profoundly shaped the modern world. While Nature matters, what this volume made clear to me is how “big Nurture”, meaning cultural practices, have changed over the past 1,000 years and the dramatic implications of such change for the world we live in today.

By Joseph Henrich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The WEIRDest People in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A landmark in social thought. Henrich may go down as the most influential social scientist of the first half of the twenty-first century' MATTHEW SYED

Do you identify yourself by your profession or achievements, rather than your family network? Do you cultivate your unique attributes and goals? If so, perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

Unlike most who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, nonconformist, analytical and control-oriented. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically peculiar? What part did these differences play in our history, and what do…

Gut Feelings

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Book cover of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Andreas Creutzmann Author Of Soft Skills for the Professional Services Industry : Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success

From the list on soft skills for professionals and entrepreneurs.

Who am I?

At the very beginning of my studies, I asked myself a question that still accompanies me today: “Why are some people successful and others not?” I've always been interested in people who are successful through their own efforts instead of building on the success of previous generations through their heritage. In my search for what distinguishes successful from less successful people, I began to read a variety of relevant books and attend seminars. These books and seminars dealt with the topics of success, personality development, marketing and sales, rhetoric, psychology, and management as well as self-management and personal productivity. To date, I've read several hundred books on these topics and attended a number of seminars.

Andreas' book list on soft skills for professionals and entrepreneurs

Discover why each book is one of Andreas' favorite books.

Why did Andreas love this book?

Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer.

Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition, a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions.

Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer's research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right.

I have heard Gerd Gigerenzer lecture and read several of his books. If you want to use your gut feeling and your mind, this book tells you how.

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gut Feelings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why is split second decision-making superior to deliberation? Gut Feelings delivers the science behind Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition, a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions. Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer's research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right. Intuition, it seems, is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior…

The World Beyond Your Head

By Matthew B. Crawford,

Book cover of The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction

Linda T. Kaastra Author Of Grounding the Analysis of Cognitive Processes in Music Performance: Distributed Cognition in Musical Activity

From the list on meaningful engagement with objects and people.

Who am I?

As an interdisciplinary scholar with professional musical training, I surveyed the literature in cognitive science for conceptual frameworks that would shed light on tacit processes in musical activity. I was tired of research that treats the musician either as a “lab rat” not quite capable of fully understanding what they do or as a “channel” for the mysterious and divine. I view musicians as human beings who engage in meaningful activity with instruments and with each other. Musicians are knowledgeable, skilled, and deeply creative. The authors on this list turn a scientific lens on human activity that further defines how we make ourselves through meaningful work and interactions.

Linda's book list on meaningful engagement with objects and people

Discover why each book is one of Linda's favorite books.

Why did Linda love this book?

This is a moving and profound book about how to reclaim our sense of self through meaningful activities and relationships. Crawford carefully studies how our attention is manipulated in various modern contexts, and what we can do to reclaim our sense of individuality. It is a book that underscores the importance of dealing with the real world—the people we encounter and the objects we use. This is the book that might convince you to take up knitting or the guitar. At the very least, it will help you understand some of what you gain by doing those things.  

By Matthew B. Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World Beyond Your Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his bestselling book Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew B. Crawford explored the ethical and practical importance of manual competence, as expressed through mastery of our physical environment. In his brilliant follow-up, The World Beyond Your Head, Crawford investigates the challenge of mastering one's own mind.

We often complain about our fractured mental lives and feel beset by outside forces that destroy our focus and disrupt our peace of mind. Any defense against this, Crawford argues, requires that we reckon with the way attention sculpts the self.

Crawford investigates the intense focus of ice hockey players and short-order chefs, the…


By James E. Alcock,

Book cover of Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling

John V. Petrocelli Author Of The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

From the list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news.

Who am I?

As an experimental social psychologist, who has conducted years of empirical research on bullshitting behavior and bullshit detection, I’ve found compelling evidence that the worst outcomes of bullshit communications are false beliefs and bad decisions. I’m convinced that all of our problems, whether they be personal, interpersonal, professional, or societal are either directly or indirectly linked to mindless bullshit reasoning and communication. I’m just sick and tired of incompetent, bullshit artists who capitalize by repackaging and selling what I and other experimental psychologists do for free. It’s time the masses learn that some of us who actually do the research on the things we write about can actually do it better.    

John's book list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

James Alcock is the only social psychologist I know who could write a clear, accessible, and comprehensive volume on the psychology of belief—particularly how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be. No matter how much you think you know about beliefs, and no matter what you actually believe, any reader will find surprises in Alcock’s treatise, such as why so many people cling to beliefs that are foolish, self-destructive, and wrong, believing them to be wise, self-protective, and right. Belief convinced me that faulty beliefs, arising from misapprehension about the cause of a disease, misperceptions of an enemy’s actions, misreading a lover’s motive, misconceptions about which, if any, gods are real, can lead to irrational, maladaptive, and sometimes deadly actions.

By James E. Alcock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Belief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert on the psychology of belief examines how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be.

This book explores the psychology of belief - how beliefs are formed, how they are influenced both by internal factors, such as perception, memory, reason, emotion, and prior beliefs, as well as external factors, such as experience, identification with a group, social pressure, and manipulation. It also reveals how vulnerable beliefs are to error, and how they can be held with great confidence even when…

Thinking in Bets

By Annie Duke,

Book cover of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts

Sima Dimitrijev, PhD Author Of Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

From the list on realistic knowledge and decision making.

Who am I?

My core value is realistic education—learning from each other’s errors and successes, but with full awareness of the difference between the determined past and the uncertain future. We can benefit from uncertainty, which I’ve been doing for a living as an engineer, academic researcher, and inventor. I make use of knowledge and science as much as possible, but I also know that strategic decisions for the uncertain future require skepticism and thinking to deal with the differences in a new circumstance. With my core value, I am passionate about sharing insights and knowledge that our formal education does not provide.

Sima's book list on realistic knowledge and decision making

Discover why each book is one of Sima's favorite books.

Why did Sima love this book?

Certainty is a black-or-white concept, either zero or hundred percent; uncertainty is something between zero and hundred percent, and this grayness is a difficult concept. In the context of dealing with uncertainty and making better decisions, I find Annie Duke’s use of poker in Thinking in Bets clever for two reasons: (1) People can engage with the concept that winning or losing in a poker game is neither exact science nor pure luck. (2) Given that poker games are so different from our everyday reality, there is no danger that people would expect decision recipes for dummies. 

By Annie Duke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Thinking in Bets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal bestseller, now in paperback. Poker champion turned decision strategist Annie Duke teaches you how to get comfortable with uncertainty and make better decisions.

Even the best decision doesn't yield the best outcome every time. There's always an element of luck that you can't control, and there's always information hidden from view. So the key to long-term success (and avoiding worrying yourself to death) is to think in bets: How sure am I? What are the possible ways things could turn out? What decision has the highest odds of success? Did I land in the unlucky 10%…

In Search of Memory

By Eric R. Kandel,

Book cover of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind

Peter A. Bamberger Author Of Exposing Pay: Pay Transparency and What It Means for Employees, Employers, and Public Policy

From the list on (mis)managing people at work.

Who am I?

I've been studying people at work for over 40 years, starting as an undergraduate at Cornell’s School of Labor Relations. As a student, I got involved with the trade union movement in the US, and worked as an assembly-line worker and fruit picker on kibbutzim in Israel. These hands-on experiences made me want to understand and have an impact on the way people spend most of their working hours. I’ve collected survey data from literally thousands of workers in dozens of studies conducted around the world. I’ve published more articles in scholarly journals than I ever imagined possible. And while I’m still passionate about the study of work, I’ve yet to really understand it.

Peter's book list on (mis)managing people at work

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his seminal research on learning and memory. 

This book tells the highly personal story of his scientific journey, starting with his childhood as a Jew in Nazi-controlled Vienna, and his escape to the United States. Kandel explains in layman's terms the way in which organisms (he starts with snails!) remember and learn. How does this all link back to managing people? 

Great managers are – at their core – superb coaches. And great coaches need to understand the neuropsychology of learning – a super-complex process, but one explained by Kandel in terms we can all understand. 

By Eric R. Kandel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of Memory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Memory binds our mental life together. We are who we are in large part because of what we learn and remember. But how does the brain create memories? Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel intertwines the intellectual history of the powerful new science of the mind-a combination of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology-with his own personal quest to understand memory. A deft mixture of memoir and history, modern biology and behavior, In Search of Memory brings readers from Kandel's childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna to the forefront of one of the great scientific endeavors of the twentieth century: the search…

The Origin of Concepts

By Susan Carey,

Book cover of The Origin of Concepts

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From the list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Who am I?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

I’m interested in how mathematicians create mathematics but this book made me realize that learning mathematics is also a form of creativity. Each of us has created our understanding of mathematics as we were growing up. We are all creative!  

What is amazing about this book is that even children as young as six months possess rudimentary mathematical concepts, in particular, the concept of number. (Actually, Carey shows children have two distinct ways of thinking about numbers). The concept of number is built-in. That’s amazing to me! The mastery of counting numbers, 1,2,3,… is a great creative leap in the development of the child. This leap is followed by a series of further amazing accomplishments, for example, the insight that a fraction like 2/3, is a completely new kind of number (and not just a problem in division). How do kids manage to accomplish such radical changes in their concept…

By Susan Carey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Origin of Concepts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only human beings have a rich conceptual repertoire with concepts like tort, entropy, Abelian group, mannerism, icon and deconstruction. How have humans constructed these concepts? And once they have been constructed by adults, how do children acquire them? While primarily focusing on the second question, in The Origin of Concepts , Susan Carey shows that the answers to both overlap substantially.

Carey begins by characterizing the innate starting point for conceptual development, namely systems of core cognition. Representations of core cognition are the output of dedicated input analyzers, as with perceptual representations, but these core representations differ from perceptual representations…

Skim, Dive, Surface

By Jenae Cohn,

Book cover of Skim, Dive, Surface: Teaching Digital Reading

Regan A.R. Gurung Author Of Study Like a Champ: The Psychology-Based Guide to "Grade A" Study Habits

From the list on teachers who care about students and learning.

Who am I?

I love to teach and to do research on teaching and learning. Little compares to seeing how students’ faces light up when they get it. I want more students to experience the experience of getting it. After teaching for 25 years, and taking a deep dive into the scientific literature on learning, I have accumulated some important insights that I share in my work as Executive Director of a teaching and learning center, with my students, and with faculty across the nation. Teaching is not an impromptu act. It is an art and a science and I revel in it. These books will light a fire in you.

Regan's book list on teachers who care about students and learning

Discover why each book is one of Regan's favorite books.

Why did Regan love this book?

Just because most teachers love to read, their students may not feel the same way. 

Teachers struggle with getting students to read and the rise in screen time and social media seems to make the challenge even tougher. Furthermore, is reading on a screen the same as reading on paper?

This book addresses reading on screens head on and provides a rich history of reading, and lays the groundwork for ways to get students to be more effective readers. I loved the facts relating to what catches student eyeballs.

By Jenae Cohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skim, Dive, Surface as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Students are reading on screens more than ever-how can we teach them to be better digital readers?

Smartphones, laptops, tablets: college students are reading on-screen all the time, and digital devices shape students' understanding of and experiences with reading. In higher education, however, teachers rarely consider how digital reading experiences may have an impact on learning abilities, unless they're lamenting students' attention spans or the distractions available to students when they're learning online.

Skim, Dive, Surface offers a corrective to these conversations-an invitation to focus not on losses to student learning but on the spectrum of affordances available within digital…

Book cover of The Design of Everyday Things

Mike McQuaid Author Of Git in Practice

From the list on becoming a great open source software engineer.

Who am I?

I’ve been a professional software engineer and maintaining open-source software for 16 years. My work on open source has been heavily informed by industry best practises and my work on proprietary software has been heavily informed by open source best practises. Without these books, I’d be a worse engineer on many dimensions. Some of them may feel antiquated but all are still full of relevant wisdom for every open-source (and proprietary) software engineer today.

Mike's book list on becoming a great open source software engineer

Discover why each book is one of Mike's favorite books.

Why did Mike love this book?

I was introduced to this book in a Human-Computer Interaction course at university but most of it barely mentions computers at all. It radically changed the way I thought about design of all everything, including all the software I have written since, to aim to be as intuitive and natural as possible.

Tip: read this on paper or on an iPad rather than an iPhone or Kindle as the pictures as essential.

By Don Norman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Design of Everyday Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious,even liberating,book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The…

Book cover of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction

Joseph Carroll Author Of Reading Human Nature: Literary Darwinism in Theory and Practice

From the list on literary Darwinism.

Who am I?

I’ve spent the past thirty years leading the movement to integrate the humanities, and especially literary study, with evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience. I got my PhD in comparative literature right about the time the academic literary world was being convulsed by the poststructuralist revolution (Derrida, Foucault, et co). I felt a profound antipathy to the sterile paradoxes and attenuated abstractions of that theory. I wanted a theory that could get close to the power literature had over my own imagination. The evolutionary human sciences have provided me with a basis for building a theory that answers my own need to make sense of literature.

Joseph's book list on literary Darwinism

Discover why each book is one of Joseph's favorite books.

Why did Joseph love this book?

Boyd combines research on human evolution with cognitive psychology. He offers crisp and lucid summaries of the relevant research. His writing is like that of the best popular science. His marshaling of ideas from evolutionary and cognitive psychology offers an alternative to critical theories that have lost touch with science, and with much of reality.

By Brian Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Origin of Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A century and a half after the publication of Origin of Species, evolutionary thinking has expanded beyond the field of biology to include virtually all human-related subjects-anthropology, archeology, psychology, economics, religion, morality, politics, culture, and art. Now a distinguished scholar offers the first comprehensive account of the evolutionary origins of art and storytelling. Brian Boyd explains why we tell stories, how our minds are shaped to understand them, and what difference an evolutionary understanding of human nature makes to stories we love.

Art is a specifically human adaptation, Boyd argues. It offers tangible advantages for human survival, and it derives…