Psychology: The Science of Human Potential
Copyright Year: 2019
Conditions of Use
The author’s idea is to create scientific foundations to understand human behavior, illustrating how research has led to our current understanding. In a way, the book teaches the mechanics of psychology. The author provides an understanding... read more
The author’s idea is to create scientific foundations to understand human behavior, illustrating how research has led to our current understanding.
In a way, the book teaches the mechanics of psychology.
The author provides an understanding of why the scientific method is necessary for us to understand human behaviors. The book takes the reader through a thorough explanation of the evolution and biology of human development and learning. Further, there is thought given to the many different ways that experience interacts with our genes to influence our thoughts, emotions, and actions.
The content that is offered appears to be accurate, referencing mainstream Western theory, research, and applications in psychology.
The book is based on well-regarded traditional Western theories in psychology. To make this learning more relevant, the instructor would need to include additional information which approaches psychology from a cultural lens, and include promising research that may point to new theories of human behaviors.
The readings are clear and concise, and relatively easy to read. The author’s use of first-person narrative invites the reader in to the material.The use of examples, research and videos to underscore learnings teaches the material in a different way, solidifying understanding.
The author takes the time to link previous chapters and learnings to the current chapter. This book flows smoothly and “hangs together”: there is a logical procession through the science of psychology and interventions for behavioral disorders.
Each chapter builds the foundation for the chapter to follow; yet, any chapter could be stand-alone reading. There is frequent mention in chapters of the learnings of previous chapters, which helps the reader to understand the inter-relatedness of research and science. Each chapter included one or more essay questions at the end of sections which not only promotes critical thinking, but also allows the student to make sure they understand the material before moving on.
As a reader, I was appreciative of the methodical foundation of evolution, brain development, and genetic/environmental influences prior to discussion of theory and intervention. The learning objectives which began each chapter were helpful.
I downloaded the PDF and personally found it is probably not the way to go. There didn’t seem to be a way for me to bookmark where I left off. However, the highlighting feature of the PDF would be helpful to a student. To access the videos I had to copy and paste the link into my browser. It’s not hard to do that, but a bit cumbersome. (I did not try another way to access the book so I cannot comment on that). That being said, the videos were relevant, carefully chosen, and really interesting. The illustrations and diagrams were a nice break between sections.
There were a few typos, but not really any grammatical errors that would distract from reading. I noticed that the Chapter 3 review exercises were missing.
I found very little on the cultural aspects of understanding human behavior. For example, culture was not given consideration in the “nurture” sections. There was an emphasis on Western thought, as conceptualized by Caucasian men. To illustrate my point: in Chapter 8: Lifespan Development of Human Potential, there was no mention of Carol Gilligan’s theory of women’s moral development. The research cited did not include research on people of color, LGBTQ, or the elderly.
I enjoyed the author’s writing on “knowing when you don’t know; keeping an open mind, you may find out more which will change your mind”. This was a great way of inviting the student to engage in critical thinking while reading the book.
The instructor would do well to take time to explain to students that class will be laying a foundation of biology and other disciplines to explore the science of psychology. Students will gain a foundation of biology, because understanding the biology of the brain helps us to understand that human behavior is not random. I realize this is covered in the author’s introduction but it bears repeating in class.
Overall this book is a great beginning for psychology students. The only negative for me was the lack of cultural considerations (as explained above). I would have appreciated discussion on the effect of trauma on the human brain, and on human behavior.
The premise of Levy's text is to provide a "concise" introduction to psychology, along the lines of Griggs and Jackson (6th edition published in 2020). I am a fan of this approach - cover the major areas of psychology in 12 or fewer chapters and... read more
The premise of Levy's text is to provide a "concise" introduction to psychology, along the lines of Griggs and Jackson (6th edition published in 2020). I am a fan of this approach - cover the major areas of psychology in 12 or fewer chapters and use the entire textbook in one semester. I think Levy's two themes (the power of empirical science and how nature-nurture contribute to human potential) have relevance to students in all disciplines. My bias is depth over breadth and to make connections between relevant subfields of psychology. Levy's thematic approach accomplishes this well. I am not troubled by the lack of a glossary, as vocabulary terms are contextualized within each chapter.
Disclaimer: I did not read the entire book. My sampling of chapters leads me to believe that the content is accurate, referencing widely accepted theory, research, and applications in psychology.
Each section is organized with cornerstone research and theory. There are many contemporary applications throughout the text which would be easily edited as new research emerges.
The conversational tone is, in my opinion, more engaging than what is found in more traditional texts. I believe students will find this style more relevant to their lives.
The chapters are well integrated and complement each other well. The organization of chapters flows smoothly within the theme of human potential. I appreciate that the transitions are much smoother than a traditional textbook.
As stated within other categories, the length, alignment, and topical structure of Levy's text allow for seamless transitions. At the same time, chapters could be read as single units. Unlike longer texts, the transitions between chapters should be seamless for the reader.
The thematic approach ensures logic and clarity. I would encourage faculty to assign the "To the Instructor and Students" as the first reading, as this explains the "Why?" and "How come" this text. I have been assigning book prefaces for a long time, as a first discussion topic with students. This one may lead to more engaged conversations than other texts I have used.
Images, charts, videos, etc. seem to work without problems.
While I cannot say that 100% of the text is without error (I did not read it as an editor), there were no passages that were confusing due to writing style and word usage.
I did not find the writing, examples, and/or sensitivity of the text to be offensive in any way. I would have preferred to see more examples of diversity in gender (nonbinary) and sexual (LGBTQA) identities.
This text goes against the tide of most introductory textbooks in psychology, which could work well or not so well. I believe it will be engaging for students, allow more self-reflection, and provide many opportunities for discussion. From my viewpoint, it's worthy of serious consideration, from a pedagogical as well as a financial perspective. I'll be using it in the fall 2020 semester.
Levy very clearly stated that the goal was to provide a concise introductory psychology textbook, which necessitates deciding what to trim while still introducing each "pillar" of the current common core advocated by APA. He does a good job of... read more
Levy very clearly stated that the goal was to provide a concise introductory psychology textbook, which necessitates deciding what to trim while still introducing each "pillar" of the current common core advocated by APA. He does a good job of this, and individual instructors can easily elaborate with their favorite demos or examples that might not be in this volume. I did not see an index or glossary, but I am not so sure that today's student uses these, anyway. I think they are more likely to keep a google tab open and use that to look up anything they don't understand from the textbook. There is a search function and I think that suffices.
The content is currently up to date, and this delivery format can easily be updated as we reconsider earlier findings in light of increased replicability of studies. That is not possible with traditional textbooks!
The text presents all the classic studies that one would expect to find. This allows the students to absorb the necessary foundational material outside of class without being overwhelmed, and the instructor can easily add recent applications of the material through classroom presentation and activities.
Levy was very intentional in his style to make it accessible to first-year college students. The use of the pronoun "I" functions to hear a professor's voice in their head as students read on their own. Psychological concepts are explained in a way that most students would grasp. There may be some more advanced students taking the course for which perhaps this approach is not necessary, but that should just free up some cognitive resources for them to delve even deeper into the exercises and questions that the author raises. In addition to introductory psychology I teach a 400-level learning and cognition course, in which students practice many of the self-control skills that this text introduces. Often students report wishing they had been introduced to these ideas as freshman!
Yes, it is easy to follow, and for those students who recognize chapters are actually organized in an intentional way, this will be appreciated!
Absolutely, although with it already being concise I would not foresee the need to divide chapters into smaller reading assignments.
I am a big fan of presenting content with overarching themes, so I greatly appreciate the efforts that Levy made to introduce two of these early on and continue them throughout the textbook. Framing psychology from a human potential perspective is brilliant! As anyone who teaches intro knows, a poll on the first day of class reveals that the most common name they know is Freud and they think the course will be mostly about psychological disorders. I think what Levy is doing with this text is akin to when Martin Seligman was elected President of the APA years ago. As research methods IS literally the foundation of the five pillars for introductory psychology, it makes a great deal of sense to have this as an organizing concept.
My experience navigating the textbook was free of interface and navigation challenges. The videos and Review Exercises all worked well. Were some of the images of perhaps lesser quality than a shiny, glossy textboook from one of the larger publisher's? Yes, but I do not think they will distract or confuse the reader. Again, any instructor can easily supplement these for the chapters in which they are experts.
I did not come across any grammatical errors.
Although I did not perceive this textbook to be culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, this textbooks joins the majority in that examples of current researchers do not typically look like many students who are taking the course, and I think this is a missed opportunity. Perhaps future editions can incorporate more of this.
Completing this review has moved me closer to adopting an OER textbook, thank you!
• Broadly, this offering covers the basic topical areas generally covered by Introduction to Psychology textbooks, including: Science of Psychology (Research), Biology, Sensation and Perception, Emotion and Motivation, Direct Learning, Indirect... read more
• Broadly, this offering covers the basic topical areas generally covered by Introduction to Psychology textbooks, including: Science of Psychology (Research), Biology, Sensation and Perception, Emotion and Motivation, Direct Learning, Indirect Learning, Cognition and Intelligence, Lifespan Development, Personality, Social Influences, Problems in Development (Psychopathology), Science of Psychology (Treatment).
• However, there are some topical areas that appear to be given more, or less, attention as compared to traditional textbooks. For example, in the first chapter, on the Science of Psychology (Research), there is a fairly brief review of the history and systems of the field of psychology, which addresses the “most famous” psychologists, but neglects much of the evolving history of the early years of the field. Similarly, there is enhanced discussion of some forms of research that seem less necessary, such as small-N designs and reversal designs, to the exclusion of “more common” experimental research paradigms. It’s not that this pattern of writing is detrimental but, rather, that it reflects the elements of the field of psychology deemed important by the author and an attempt to keep the textbook constrained. Yet, the text has over 400 pages, so it is not much briefer than non-OER resources.
• In Chapter 2 (Biology), there is an emphasis on heredity and evolution, and on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and neurotransmission. There is also some discussion of brain structure, such as the different lobes, but there is also a lack of information; however, there is a lack of discussion of other critical brain components (e.g., hypothalamus, limbic system, etc).
• Chapter 3 (Sensation & Perception) has adequate coverage of the visual process, but less discussion of hearing, olfaction, gustatory and tactile sensation processes. There is also a somewhat minimal discussion of perceptual theories and processes.
• Chapter 4 is focused on Emotion and Motivation, much of which is framed within a biological and physiological framework, including drive theory and the sexual and sleep drives. Yet, when taken as a whole, there is only minimal discussion of other commonly discussed specific motivational processes (e.g., hunger, but not thirst). Of note, there is an adequate discussion of cognitive motivational processes, including primary and secondary motives, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and self-actualization.
• In the chapter focused on direct learning (Chapter 5), there is adequate, and perhaps extensive, coverage of both classical and operant conditioning.
• In Chapter 6, which is focused on Indirect Learning, there appears to be sufficient coverage of observational and social learning, and of the implications of these types of learning for speech and language development and for reading and writing. As well, both short-term and long-term memory are adequately explored.
• Chapter 7 is focused on Cognition and Intelligence and addresses mostly developmental topics such as concept learning and cognitive processes such as problem solving. Gestalt theories are also discussed. Although the author attempts to frame the information in this text in an applied manner, there is a rather large section on the development of tools (i.e., as the result of evolving cognitive abilities and societal intelligence), which seems somewhat out of place, albeit cultural in nature. Finally, this chapter has adequate coverage of intelligence, including individual differences and the theory of multiple intelligences.
• The topic of Chapter 8 is Lifespan Development and includes fetal and infant development, cognitive and language development, and moral development. Major theories, such as Erickson’s Stage Theory and Kohlberg’s Stage Model of Moral Development, are adequately covered. Less attention is devoted to adolescent and adult development.
• Chapter 9 is focused on the topic of Personality and Human Potential and covers such topics as temperament and trait theory (e.g., Big 5 Personality Theory), and psychodynamic theory. From an applied perspective, the author addresses indirect genetic influences and adaptive learning, and includes a decent section on twin studies, and a somewhat sparse section on cross-cultural research.
• Social Influences on the Development of Human Potential are covered in Chapter 10, and include exploration of topics such as social influence, conformity and obedience; social roles, bystander apathy and group cohesiveness; and, attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice. Specific theories, such as cognitive dissonance theory, and classical studies, such as Milgram’s obedience study, are also discussed.
• Chapter 11 is titled “Problems in the Development of Human Potential,” and is focused on psychological and psychiatric conceptualizations of psychopathology and its treatment. Updated for the DSM-5, this chapter delineates the medical model, and briefly discusses many of the primary categories of mental illness.
• Finally, Chapter 12 focuses on the “Science of Psychology and Human Potential,” with an emphasis on the application of psychological principles to “everyday problems,” including psychopathology, addiction and relapse, applied behavior analysis, learned helplessness, and counseling and school psychology, among other topics. Health psychology is given moderate coverage, while Industrial-Organizational psychology is given only minimal coverage.
• Upon review of this textbook, the content appears to be accurate, error-free and unbiased in nature.
• This textbook combines classic psychological information, which does not really change over time, and modern research studies to support traditional theories. Although there is no readily identifiable publication date, the most recent reference is from 2014, suggesting that an update to account for current research may already be in order; however, these elements can be easily updated without impact to the remainder of the text.
• Overall, the text is written in an understandable, accessible and personable manner. Further, the narrative of the text is written to, and aimed toward, students.
• The narrative portions of the text are often written in the first-person, and the book contains thoughts and examples from the author’s personal life experiences.
• This textbook is written in an understandable way and although it includes technical and scientific terms, there is no jargon and adequate explanation.
• The author notes that he has promoted cohesiveness in this volume via several strategies, including overarching schema, momentum-building narrative, recurrent images and themes, and self-control applications.
• Similarly, the author has written the entire book with a consistent theme, that of development of the applied human potential of the student audience. To facilitate the personal growth and learning of the student, Dr. Levy has incorporated numerous strategies, including the use of exercises, videos and scientific explanations in color-coded call-out boxes.
• This book is divided into 12 primary chapters, each with between 3 to 5 sub-modules. Most chapters and sub-modules seem to be easily separable, allowing for reorganization as needed.
• It should be noted that the textbook is somewhat self-referential, sometimes referring to previous or consequent chapters, and with complementary examples persisting throughout the text (which require having read previous chapters).
• This open-source textbook is also categorized into broad domains, including “mostly nature” and “mostly nurture,” which helps with classification and broaches one of the classic debates in psychological history.
• The topics in this textbook are, in large part, arranged in the same order as most non-OER text resources, making it similar in design.
• Finally, the text is primarily written in a logical and clear fashion although, at times, the narrative examples are lengthy and minimally obtuse, which disrupts the linearity of flow to some extent.
• Throughout the text, there are numerous blank pages (e.g., between sections and chapters), which do not seem to be needed and are somewhat distracting. Similarly, there are often white spaces, or gaps, in the layout, such as only having one call-out box on a page, or only one large picture and caption on a page; these elements could likely be consolidated to improve the flow of readability for end-users. There are also places where spacing is needed, such as between sub-titles and preceding/following paragraphs.
• Similarly, there are several instances of enlarged text and errant spacing in the Reference section of the text, and the citations are not provided in current APA Style formatting. A lack of DOI numbers is particularly noted.
• The videos, illustrations and pictures that are included in the textbook are, of course, open-source material, which is a “positive” for distribution. Some of these elements, however, are overly large for their pages, and are sometimes so large that their resolution is degraded or that a single image takes up an entire page of the text.
• There are several instances of a missing image file, where only the filename and placeholder are visible.
• After a thorough review of this text, I did not notice any grammatical errors.
• Upon review of this text, I did not find any instances of cultural insensitivity or racial/ethnic offensiveness. In fact, there are many elements of culture that are included in the text, mostly anthropological in nature (e.g., Nukak tribe of Amazon), although there is less information about the typical ethnic/racial groups of the United States (e.g., Black, Latino/Latina, etc).
Overall, this is a broad and comprehensive textbook, which covers most of the major theories, principles and topics expected in an introductory volume. Of interest, the textbook is written with an effort to promote the "human potential" of end-users (i.e., students) and, as such, has an applied perspective that is intended to promote learning, including about the field of psychology, and personal growth.
This book gives a brief but comprehensive overview of the subjects typical of an Introductory Psychology course. It goes beyond the typical Intro text by offering students opportunities to engage in personal reflection and consideration of their... read more
This book gives a brief but comprehensive overview of the subjects typical of an Introductory Psychology course. It goes beyond the typical Intro text by offering students opportunities to engage in personal reflection and consideration of their strengths and weaknesses as learners. I think this is an admirable and important addition to the Introductory Psychology curriculum. I suspect this text would be particularly appealing to non-psych majors who would likely appreciate the book’s application of psychological theory to concrete suggestions for examining their own learning and behavior.
There are some problematic figures and content in the book, which hurt the overall credibility of the content. For the sake of brevity I will highlight 2 examples: the information on taste and sleep. The portion of the book on the taste system contains several errors. Most problematically, the figure includes a "taste map" (Figure 3.15) illustrating that a myth that has been debunked for decades; so much so that it is commonly addressed in high school science classes. Thus it is highly possible students may be aware of the correct version of this information and this presentation will confuse them. Additionally, the book mis-identifies the number of commonly recognized human taste stimuli (umami is omitted). I suspect this omission was in part to support the erroneous figure.
Sleep: the text discusses 5 stages of sleep, labeling stage 1-4 as NREM and stage 5 as REM. This model is outdated by most accounts (stage 3 and 4 are now generally combined into a single "slow wave sleep" stage). More problematic however, is that the figure accompanying the text lists only 4 stages and mistakenly reports that people spend progressively longer in stage 1 sleep throughout the night (this portion should be labeled as REM sleep on the figure). Like the taste section, this discrepancy could be addressed and clarified in class but this is potentially problematic for student understanding.
The majority of the content is focused on long-standing theories in psychology and is unlikely to become obsolete. Information pertaining to clinical psychology is currently up to date with DSM 5 criteria, including a discussion of how such criteria change over time (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder replacing earlier terminology). This section will be easy to keep updated with future revisions. Much of the literature cited throughout the book are older, foundational studies and will remain relevant.
I really liked the way that the vocabulary terms are included in the text. Important terms are bolded, but the description/explanation of the term is contextualized within the surrounding paragraphs. This will make students engage with the material more than just skimming for terms/definitions. Some of the vocabulary are presented without clarification (for example vivisection, demarcated, galvanic skin response, and some neuroanatomy terms). Similarly, figures sometimes include terms that are not referenced in the text and are not always given additional content (for example, see Figure 3.14a).
The text and tone of the book are consistent, and each chapter uses similar style and format. I particularly like the inclusion of self-test questions distributed in each chapter. These would be useful for students or as potential assignments. Common themes such as psychology as a science, the scientific method and evolutionary theory are also applied consistently throughout the text.
The book is well chunked and larger areas of text are broken up with the inclusion of figures and videos. The book frequently and explicitly refers back to previous information and chapters and mentions when a subject will be expanded upon in an upcoming chapter in a way which is helpful but would not be disruptive to understanding if encountered out of order.
The organization is straightforward and intuitive. Some information is incorporated in a non-traditional way (e.g., abnormal psychology/disorders are presented from a developmental view) that I found was particularly well thought out.
I really liked the inclusion of videos throughout the chapters. All of the videos worked well. If students download the PDF version of the book a link to each video is included in the text (one of these links did not work when I copy-pasted it but the same video DID work in the online version of the text). Figures were occasionally referenced but were missing from the text (e.g., Figure 11.10).
A few minor punctuation and grammar issues (e.g., "sight" instead of "site" on pg. 42) but nothing that significantly impedes the readability of the textbook.
The book centers heavily on Maslow's hierarchy of needs which has been criticized for a lack of cross-cultural relevance. Also, the author occasionally disregards the level of diversity in the classroom by representing “college students” as a single, homogenous group. Most importantly, issues pertaining to minority groups are not always included even when they are highly relevant to the subject matter. The emphasis on hetero-normative sexual relations in Chapter 4 is a good example. A one point the author writes "However, the fact that 90% of us eventually marry, happily indicates that it is usually possible to locate potentially desirable mates" (pg. 191). Given the worldwide issues with marriage inequality such statements (particularly in the absence of any acknowledgement of the LGBTQ+ community) are problematic.
This textbook is meant to be more concise that the average textbook. I kept going back and forth between a 4 and 5 but decided to go with a 5 because the overall goal of the book seemed to be to share the most elementary pieces in order to allow... read more
This textbook is meant to be more concise that the average textbook. I kept going back and forth between a 4 and 5 but decided to go with a 5 because the overall goal of the book seemed to be to share the most elementary pieces in order to allow time for an instructor to move through more chapters in a semester.
Everything that I read and reviewed appeared accurate.
I appreciate the inclusion of numerous videos throughout the text. This is an engaging way to keep students engaged. Additionally, the balance of original research and newer videos was nice.
The text is easy to read and provides examples and images to assist the learning process.
All that I read appeared to be consistent with other Introductory Psychology Textbooks. One topic I typically address in PSY101 that I did not see in this textbook is addiction as it related to consciousness. This is typically a point in the course where I discuss harmful effects of alcohol.
Each chapter is broken into very few small sections. At times, I found myself wondering if it would be too short for a traditional classroom setting. However, I appreciate that the concise nature may allow me to move through the chapters more quickly, covering more ground during the semester.
The organization is similar to other textbooks and is appropriate for the traditional psychology classroom.
I saw only one image/video that did not appear. All others looked great!
I did not come across any grammatical errors.
The text included a diverse set of images, videos, and experiences.
This textbook was very well written. I am considering using it in a face-to-face course. My biggest concern is having access to a slide presentation. This semester, I added McGraw Hill LearnSmart Activities and have appreciated the interactive element. I think this textbook could be a good fit because of the videos and concise nature of the text.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: The Science of Psychology
- Chapter 2: Biology and Human Potential
- Chapter 3: Sensation, Perception and Human Potential
- Chapter 4: Emotion, Motivation and Human Potential
- Chapter 5: Direct Learning and Human Potential
- Chapter 6: Indirect Learning and Human Potential
- Chapter 7: Cognition, Intelligence and Human Potential
- Chapter 8: Lifespan Development of Human Potential
- Chapter 9: Personality and Human Potential
- Chapter 10: Social Influences on the Development of Human Potential
- Chapter 11: Problems in the Development of Human Potential
- Chapter 12: The Science of Psychology and Human Potential
About the Book
The first chapter provides an overview of the textbook and reviews the history of psychology and its methodology. Psychology is described as a science studying how hereditary (nature) and experiential (nurture) variables interact to influence the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of individuals. The remainder of the text will be organized in sections entitled “Mostly Nature” (Biological Psychology; Sensation & Perception; Motivation & Emotion), “Mostly Nurture” (Direct Learning; Indirect Learning (i.e., observational learning and language); Cognition), and “Nature/Nurture” (Human Development; Personality; Social Psychology; Maladaptive Behavior; Professional Psychology and Human Potential).
About the Contributors
Jeffrey C. Levy’s professional career at Seton Hall University maybe divided into three stages, BC, DC, and AC (before, during, and after his 24-year term as chair of the Department of Psychology). Frequently recognized for teaching excellence, he received the Deans Advisory Council’s Outstanding Teacher Award for the College of Arts & Sciences and the Sears-Roebuck Award for College Teaching and Campus Leadership. He was twice nominated by Seton Hall for National CASE Professor of the Year recognition. Trained as an experimental psychologist with interests in behavior modification, Levy regularly taught the undergraduate Learning course with and without a related animal laboratory and a graduate course in Behavior Modification. He is author of Adaptive Learning and the Human Condition, published by Pearson in 2013.