The best social psychology books

14 authors have picked their favorite books about social psychology and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Book cover of How Modernity Forgets

How Modernity Forgets

By Paul Connerton,

Why this book?

A concise and lucid sociological treatise that relates forgetting to the transitions and rapid changes of contemporary urban life, which has eroded the ways in which societies traditionally remembered the past.

From the list:

The best books about forgetting

Book cover of The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations

The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations

By Fritz Heider,

Why this book?

The book, written in mid-century, has some of the most powerful hypotheses of social psychology, which, along with the ideas of fellow émigré from Germany, Kurt Lewin, gave birth to the field of social psychology. Read Chapter 4 at least. I do every 5 years or so. The chapter gave rise to both dissonance theory and attribution theory, two of the major accomplishments of social psychology.

From the list:

The best books on thinking

Book cover of Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection

Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection

By Marissa King,

Why this book?

Yale professor Marissa King shows how anyone can build more meaningful and productive relationships based on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and network analytics. She explains that the quality and structure of our relationships has a great impact on our personal and professional lives. Our social connections profoundly affect our experience of the world, our emotions, and our personal and professional success.

From the list:

The best books for creating collaborative relationships and organizations

Book cover of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath, Dan Heath,

Why this book?

This is the best book I have ever read on crafting messages that will be remembered by your audience. If you’re a school teacher, this book will transform your lessons. If you’re a marketer or advertiser, this book will make your messages more clear, compelling, and impactful. If you’re a parent, this book will aid you immensely with communicating with your children. 

If you have something to say and someone who needs to hear it and retain it, this book is an essential.

From the list:

The best books for effective communication

Book cover of Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession

Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession

By Haggai Ram,

Why this book?

Haggai Ram was one of my Master’s thesis advisors. In this book, he shows how the idea of the Iranian threat was developed, partly as a process of Israeli self-reflection. Iranophobia is indispensable for the reader who would like to know about the roots of animosity between Iran and Israel, the history of the imagination of Iran and Israel vis-à-vis The West, and critical gaze on Zionism and Jewish Statehood in the Middle East. This book exemplifies the importance of looking beyond filters of mythmaking and the political tendencies of history writing and being on the lookout when reading contemporary…

From the list:

The best books on Jewish histories of the Middle East

Book cover of The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology

The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology

By Lee Ross, Richard E. Nisbett,

Why this book?

A classic treatise on how the mind works in a social context by two of the most famous social psychologists in the world. Why do people do what they do? It is not just a matter of their character or personality; we all respond to social norms, social pressures, and cultural contexts, more so than we think we do. And to understand someone else, we have to put ourselves inside their head and understand how they see the world, and how culture and the social context shapes that view. Many people who have read this book say it has fundamentally…
From the list:

The best books about self knowledge

Book cover of The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

By Erving Goffman,

Why this book?

Erving Goffman’s work on impression management had a huge influence on me, beginning in my student days when I started to become fascinated by everyday interactions. The deliberate (and often convoluted) process of trying to control the impressions others form of us is integral to our modern-day understanding of brands and the social meanings they hold.
From the list:

The best books about why we buy – and what brands “mean”

Book cover of Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds

Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds

By Thomas Hübl, Julie Jordan Avritt,

Why this book?

This non-fiction book is so well researched, combining a scientific approach with poetic explorations. Hübl’s writing is so satisfyingly clear, with the latest research in epigenetic theories on trauma. For anyone who doubts the impact of ancestral inheritance, this book offers concrete evidence that the past, present, and future exists in the spirals of our DNA.

From the list:

The best books that explore ancestral trauma

Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why this book?

This book is so different from the other books on my list. I just finished reading this book recently. I found it completely fascinating. It talks about how our newer generation has changed how we listen, talk and feel. I find that this is happening in relationships as well. This book is a weave of communication, how we take things way too personally and how this affects how we interact with others in life and how we relate to our feelings. I think this book can help how we listen, share and have internal boundaries. While reading this book I…

From the list:

The best books for creating inner and outer change in your life area

Book cover of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

By Jonathan Haidt,

Why this book?

I was more than halfway through the research for my book when psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a giant in the field of moral foundations theory, published this extraordinary book. I immediately began incorporating his insights, especially the idea that humans are “hivish.” We define ourselves by our group membership. Given a choice between our loyalty to the group and the truth, we privilege the group. 

Haidt reports that we make political choices by and large out of conscious awareness. (If this reminds you of the work of psychologist Daniel Kahneman, it should, as it rests on the idea that the brain…

From the list:

The best books to understand why voters often behave irrationally

Or, view all 24 books about social psychology

New book lists related to social psychology

All book lists related to social psychology

Bookshelves related to social psychology

Browse books by…