Psychology Texts

By Derek Jones

What psychology books should somebody new to the psychology of programming read? The following list briefly reviews books that I found to be useful:

  • Cognitive Psychology and its Implications by J. R. Anderson
    ISBN 0-7167-3678-0

A very readable book now in its fifth edition. Let down by a poor index (and some of the references appear to be inaccurate).

  • Cognitive Psychology: A students handbook by M. W. Eysenck and M. T. Keane
    ISBN 0-86377-551-9

A very readable book now in its fourth edition. A better index than Anderson (based on looking up entries in both).

Which would I choose? To read I preferred Anderson. But then this is the first modern introductory book on cognitive psychology I have read, which may have coloured my view. I liked his attempt to explain the purpose behind everything (having a physics/engineering background this appealed to me).

But then looking around several university bookshops and the Amazon ranking system, Eysenck & Keane win hands down. So perhaps their book appeals to a more general audience.

Those wanting a more concrete, practical applications approach to psychology might like to try:

  • Engineering Psychology and Human Performance by C. D. Wickens and J.G. Hollands
    ISBN 0-321-04711-7

So, what about books dealing with more specific subjects? The following list of books has some connection with software development and are probably still in print:

  • The Number Sense by S. Dehaene
    ISBN 0-14-026134-6

Aimed at the educated lay reader this book contains plenty of interesting and surprising material on how people perform arithmetic.

  • Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition by W. Kintsch
    ISBN 0-521-62986-1

An up-to-date theory of text comprehension by one of the major researchers in the field (hard work in places).

  • Reasoning and Thinking by K. Manktelow
    ISBN 0-86377-709-0

A readable introduction (compared to other many books on the topic) to empirical findings and theories that have been proposed to explain them.

  • Human Error by J. Reason
    ISBN 0-521-31419-4

The standard reference on the topic and readable to boot.

  • The Adaptive Decision Maker by J. Payne, J. R. Bettman, E. J. Johnson
    ISBN 0-521-42526-3

Designing programs is about making lots of decisions and here is a book that discusses how people make them.

  • The Psychology of Language by T. Harley
    ISBN 0-86377-867-4

provides a comprehensive, readable account of the subject.

Writing maintaining software involves a lot of learning (about the application and its implementation). The following provides a more detailed, but very readable, discussion of this specialist topic.

  • Learning and memory by J. R. Anderson
    ISBN 0-471-24925-4

A good source for locating second hand books is AddAll