So you’ve bought Psychology For Dummies. How does that make you feel? Hopefully, you’re feeling pretty good. And why shouldn’t you be? You’re going to discover all kinds of interesting information about the basics of human behavior and mental processes.
Everybody is interested in psychology. People are fascinating, and that includes you! Humans often defy explanation and evade prediction. Figuring people out can be pretty hard. Just when you think that you’ve figured someone out, bang, he surprises you. Now I know that some of you may be thinking, “Actually, I’m a pretty good judge of people. I’ve got a handle on things.” If that’s the case, that’s great! Some folks do seem to have a more intuitive understanding of people than others. For the rest of us though, there’s psychology.
About This Book
Psychology For Dummies is an introduction to the field of psychology. I tried to write this book using plain English and everyday examples with the hope that it will be real and applicable to everyday life. I’ve always felt that tackling a new subject is more enjoyable when it has real-world importance. Psychology is full of jargon, so much jargon that it even has its own dictionary, aptly named The Dictionary of Psychology (Penguin Reference Books). This book is for those of you who are interested in what people do, think, say, and feel, but want the information presented in a clear and easily understandable manner.
The information in this reference is not intended to substitute for expert psychological, healthcare, or medical advice or treatment; it is designed to help you make informed choices. Because each individual is unique, a psychologist, healthcare practitioner, or physician must diagnose conditions and supervise treatments for each individual health problem. If an individual is under a psychologist’s or physician’s care and receives advice contrary to information provided in this reference, the psychologist’s or physician’s advice should be followed, as it is based on the unique characteristics of that individual.
Conventional language for psychologists can sound like gibberish to someone who has never had a psychology class. As I state earlier in this chapter, I try to stay away from jargon and technical language in this book. You may come across an attempt at a joke or two. I tend to take a lighter approach to life, but sometimes people don’t get my sense of humor. If I try to crack a joke in the text and it bombs, please don’t be too harsh. I’m a psychologist after all, and I don’t think we’re known for our sense of humor. I hope I don’t come across as insensitive or cavalier either — that is certainly not my intention.
Sometimes, talking about psychology can be pretty dry, so I try to liven things up with examples and personal stories. I make no references to any patients I’ve ever had in therapy. If there appears to be a resemblance, it’s purely coincidental. In fact, I took great care in preserving the privacy and confidentiality of the people I have worked with.
You can find a lot of psychology books out there. Most of them are either too technical and specialized or cover too narrow an area of psychology. Here are some of the reasons why I think Psychology For Dummies is the book for you:
You’ve got a lot of questions about people.
You’ve got a lot of questions about yourself.
You’re thinking about going into the field of psychology.
You’re currently studying psychology or a related discipline, such as social work or counseling.
You’re interested in psychology but don’t have the time or the money to take a psychology course.
You’ve got people all figured out, and you want to see if I’m on track.
Icons Used In This Book
Throughout this book, you find icons in the margins. They’re there to help you easily find certain types of information. Here’s a list of the icons you see:
When you see this one, I’m asking you to engage in a little psychological experimentation. In other words, you’re the guinea pig when you run across this icon. What would psychology be without its guinea pigs? Don’t worry — the experiments are harmless. No shocks, I promise.
When you see this icon, I’m trying to emphasize a bit of information that may come in handy someday.
With this creative piece of art, I’m trying to alert you to information that is a “must know” if you’re going to learn psychology.
Don’t forget it. When you see this icon I am reminding you of the highlights from that section. It flags the “if you learn just one thing from this chapter” type of stuff, so pay attention.
This icon flags discussions that may rise above the level you need to basically understand the topic at hand. These sections can safely be skipped without harming your comprehension of the main point.
Beyond the Book
In addition to the chapters in this print book, you'll find lots more Psychology for Dummies information on the Web at www.dummies.com/extras/psychology. For free!
There’s just too much good information out there, and I want you to learn as much as you can about psychology. But there was only so much space I had to work with in print. So I put the rest online for you.
Check out the eCheat Sheets for quick access to information about the differences between psychologists and other mental health professionals and coping with psychological crises.
You’ll also find three extra online “chapters” — full articles on the following topics:
“Ten Ways the Internet and Psychology are Intersecting” deals with the psychology of the Internet and cyberpsychology.
“Applying Psychology for a Better World” covers behavioral economics and forensic psychology.
“Exploring Human Differences: Culture, Gender, and Sexuality” is a look at the differences that make us unique as individuals and groups.
For fun, you can also take a couple of mock tests to check out your intelligence and personality!
Where to Go from Here
Psychology is a broad field. I think you’ll find that the organization of this book lets you check out what you’re interested in and leave the rest of the stuff behind, if you want.
Use the table of contents and index to see what grabs your interest. If you’re new to the subject, by all means start with Chapter 1 and go. But you don’t have to read it cover to cover. Kind of like a cafeteria — take what you like and leave the rest.
But hey, if I can write an entire book on psychology, I think you can read an entire book on this stuff. Besides, I think you’ll like it. Psychology is a great subject. Enjoy!