Focus on topics to bend the mind;Secondary;Subject of the week;Social sciences;Reviews;Books

19th February 1999 at 00:00
FOUNDATIONS OF PSYCHOLOGY. By Nicky Hayes. Thomas Nelson pound;19.99.

INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY. By T Malim and A Birch. Macmillan pound;18.99.

PSYCHOLOGY: a new introduction. By Richard Gross and Rob Mcllveen. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;18.99.

When I started teaching psychology 11 years ago, there was a dearth of good books and most of us resorted to the American introductory texts. For today's new teacher, the problem is how to choose from the excellent range available.

Those familiar with the first edition of Nicky Hayes's comprehensive introduction for advanced and undergraduate levels will find the presentation and layout in his revised Foundations of Psychology have altered significantly. The pages are divided into columns, making the sections very manageable, and there are many helpful illustrations.

The content is largely unchanged. But the sections on psychiatric diagnosis and therapy have been updated on advice from specialists, bringing information on this fast-changing area in line with current practice.

A substantial section on parapsychology has been added so readers can see what researchers have to say about the seemingly amazing achievements of people such as Uri Geller. The style is straightforward and uncompromisingly academic.

Introductory Psychology is also attractive in its layout. It contains regular glossaries of subject-specific terms, highlighted within the text, which is a helpful device. There are opportunities for self-assessment, and each chapter is clearly summarised. Once again, the coverage is extensive and the book includes a strong section on research methods and data analysis.

The latest offering by Richard Gross and Rob McIlveen is a collection of psychological topics - biological, cognitive, developmental, social and abnormal - previously published as separate volumes.

Some new topics have been included - an introduction to psychology looks at major theoretical approaches and research methods; a section on perspectives covers issues such as free will versus determinism, and the controversial uses of psychology in propaganda, warfare and advertising.

A chapter on biases in psychological research, based on gender and culture, helps raise student awareness of the often male, white, middle-class focus of research.

This textbook is particularly suitable for A-level students. The topics are covered in a structured way, enabling students to develop a sound understanding of psychology. There is plenty of detail, but not so much as to bewilder.

Teresa Smyth is head of psychology at Palmers College, Essex

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