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SPSP Connect! Tips: Textbook Suggestions for History of Psychology

Question: “Hi colleagues, I'm planning to teach History of Psychology in the spring semester. I would love to know what textbooks and other reading material Social Psychologists prefer for History of Psychology. I want to assure that Social Psych is well represented, as well as many of the more contemporary/fringe areas such as Health, Sustainability, Law, etc. I would also love a more modern-leaning book. And I'm also open to any and all non-text reading material suggestions. Thanks so much for for your help!”


  • "My colleague wrote a non-traditional text that won recognition as one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles of 2015: Hope it's of interest.”
  • “I've liked using Fancher & Rutherford's Pioneers of Psychology. It's more affordable than traditional textbooks and seems a bit more focused than some books. By this, I mean that I've found some psychology history texts to go into detail about dozens or hundreds of historic figures. I've supplemented this text with Hock's Forty Studies that Changed Psychology. You could assign students the original articles featured in Hock's book, but the book does a good job introducing and discussing the importance of the specified studies, which to me makes the information more accessible. Overall, my students seem mostly positive about this combination. Hope this helps!”
  • “I have used (with good success) Morton Hunts, The Story of Psychology and Opening Skinners box, by Lauren Slater.”
  • “You may want to consider "The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions" by Margaret Munger. I also like the Morton Hunt book which has already been suggested.”
  • “I have used a pair of texts for that last few years. The first gets fundamental points of discipline specific history on the table while encouraging students to think outside their own US experience. The second encourages them to see psychology in relation to the larger history of science.
    Lawson, R. B., Graham, J. E., & Baker, K. M. (2006). A history of psychology: Globalization, ideas, and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. 9780130141231
    Simonyi, K. (2012). A cultural history of physics. D. Kramer (Trans.) Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 9781568813295”
  • “The Classics in the History of Psychology is an invaluable resource. All primary source, and all free!
  • “If I was teaching this course I would definitely assign Elliot Aronson's autobiography "Not by Chance Alone." His advisors were Maslow and Festinger, and there's a lot of commentary about the field put in context of the (US) social context. Plus he's a great writer and has made some rather important contributions to our field (to say the least).”