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5 Psychology Books That Changed The Way We Understood Human Behavior

The mind works in mysterious ways. Unlock human behaviour with these 5 fascinating reads.
by Sarah Moriarty | Apr 28 2017

Our mind is our greatest asset, but we don’t always know how to use it or fully understand it. In the vast majority of cases, a lot of our mind’s potential remains untapped. In order to learn all about the intricate psychology that underlies human behavior, you simply need to find the right books that contain the right knowledge and absorb it.

This is precisely why we created Blinkist: a mobile app that gives you actionable tips from the world’s best nonfiction books in 15 minutes or fewer.

All tips are available in the app in bite-sized flashcard formats that you can quickly read or, thanks to the audio versions, listen to on-the-go. What you learn with Blinkist is totally up to you—there are more than 2,000 titles in virtually every category, including psychology, to choose from.

Read on to discover 5 illuminating books that divulge the mysteries of the human brain, teaching us how to take full advantage of our most amazing organ.

1. How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead

How do you appear to others? What makes you uniquely fascinating? This eye-opening book unveils the psychology of fascination and how people and businesses can harness it to develop bulletproof brands and sell-out products.

One of the 7 triggers of fascination is alarm; we are fascinated by things that threaten or alarm us. This trigger is used often in advertising. Keep an eye out for announcements or ads that say something like “Our vacuum cleaners are incredible popular, but hurry, there are only 50 left!” The inclusion of an impending deadline triggers alarm that in turn activates your fascination.

Key Takeaway: If you want to persuade someone to do something, skirt around the subject, reveal what you need, then forbid them to do it. At the very least, they’ll be tempted help.

2. Reclaim Your Brain: How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind and Bring Your Life Back Under Control by Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.

Imbalances in our brains can give rise to such conditions as anxiety, depression and addiction, all of which can stand in the way of success and act as significant sources of unhappiness in our lives. In Reclaim Your Brain, M.D. Joseph A. Annibali investigates the biological causes for such problems and comes up with effective strategies to prevent and combat them.

Take, for example, negative thoughts — in order to combat negative thinking, Annibali suggests that you should pay attention to the thoughts and stories that you tell yourself and then write them down. This will act of transcribing your thoughts will slow down your thinking and, once you have the thoughts on paper, you can critically think about your assumptions, draw clearer conclusions, and rewrite these negative thoughts into positives.

Key Takeaway: Writing your thoughts down, examining them critically, and rewriting the stories you tell yourself are all important steps toward improving your mental health.

3. The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking … Because People Do Business with People They Like by Michelle Tillis Lederman

The fact that people do business with people they like may seem self-evident, and yet, many of us too often fail to treat business relationships as actual relationships. This book shows you how to form meaningful interpersonal connections with others in a professional context in order to draw the greatest win-win advantages.

Take, for example, an awkward business social outing or networking event: if you find yourself in a situation where it feels difficult to be authentic, try and change your perspective on the person you’re interacting with. Make an effort to look at them with unbiased eyes and perhaps you will find something to appreciate; e.g. they may have a set of skills that you don’t have. Your ability to find the good in a person or situation will lead to a more genuine and productive interaction.

Key Takeaway: Be your authentic self & look at others with unbiased eyes.

4. The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It . . . Every Time by Maria Konnikova

How do con artists succeed? Everyone knows pyramid schemes are frauds, and yet so many people fall for them. This is because con artists know and exploit specific flaws in human psychology.

One of the ideas explained in this eye-opening book is cognitive dissonance. This means that when a tightly-held belief does not match reality, we are more willing to bend our perception of reality rather than deal with the stress of changing our beliefs.

One of the best ways to become less vulnerable to con artists is to better know and understand yourself. Get ahead of the game by observing yourself to find out what triggers your emotions and makes you act impulsively. This way, when you meet someone who tries to push your buttons, you’ll recognize what’s happening and avoid falling into the trap of the con artist.

Key takeaway: Get to know your sensitive points and be wary of people who go after them.

5. Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships by Eric Berne, M.D.

People are constantly playing mind games with one another – it’s a natural, even if often undesirable, trait of human psychology. The negative impact of these games can be mitigated by learning to recognize, sidestep and counteract psychological games.

When a friend who often rejects your advice asks for help, your game alarm should start ringing. You know that he is maybe not looking for hard and fast advice, but wants something else from you. Instead of offering a list of solutions, flip things around. Ask your friend what he thinks he should do. That will get him thinking and overturn the usual rules of the game.

Key takeaway: A life without games offers an opportunity for closer relationships.

To get thousands of actionable tips from 2000+ of the world’s most important books on psychology and more, download the Blinkist app today.

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