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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 October 2009
I've bought a couple of books in this series and to be honest there are some sins of omission with each of them, pretty significant concepts are conspicious by their abscence or they are covered in a way that isnt exactly enlightening. In some instances I wouldnt blame the reader for considering there to a bias or perspective at work which encourages the inclusion of certain things and neglect of others, in particular I'm thinking of both 50 Economics Ideas: You Really Need to Know (50 Ideas): your really need to know and 50 Big Ideas You Really Need to Know (50 Ideas).

However, of all the series I think that this is a pretty good over view to its subject matter, experts might find passages which disappoint them or be aware of concepts that they feel havent been sufficiently covered but for the general reader I believe it could be an interesting and enlightening read. It could help students too, particular school age students or GCSE or A Level students, while higher education students or university students could find it a useful introduction to topics.

The format of the book is similar to all those in the series, there is a good contents and index, each chapter is broken down into a couple of pages of script, there are bullet point presentations, the condensced idea in a single sentence at the end of each chapter/segment. The text itself is accompanied by prompt boxes, there are quotes in the margins in bold and subtitles and section headings are in bold too. Its pretty easy to find what precisely you are looking for quickly. Remarkably, given the subject matter, there is no jargon and this is achieved without any dumbing down in any real sense.

The chapter breakdown is as follows:-
A Diseased Mind: Abnormal behaviour; Placebo effect; Kicking the habit; Lost touch; Not neurotic, just different; Seem sane; Stress;

Illusion and Reality: Visual illusions; Psychophysics; Hallucinations; Delusions; Are you conscious?;

Hearts and Minds: Positive psychology; Emotional intelligence; What are emotions for?; Cognitive therpay;

Individual Differences: IQ and you; Flynn effect; Multiple intelligences; Cognitive differences;

Personality and Society: The Rorschach inkblot test; Detecting lies; Authoritarian personality; Obedience to authority; Fitting in; Self-sacrifice or selfishness; Cognitive dissonance; Gambler's fallacy;

Rationality and Problem-Solving: Judgement and problem solving; Too much invested to quit; Rational decision-making; Remebrance of things past;

Cognition: What the witness saw; Artificial intelligence; Perchance to dream; Try to forget; Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon;

Development: Psychosexual stages; Cognitive stages; Ducks in a row; Tabula rasa;

Learning: Stay hungry; Behaviourism; Reinforcement schedules; Mastering complexity;

The Brain: Phrenology; Breaking up is hard to do; Aphasia; Dyslexia; Who's that?

While the topics arent covered in much more detail than perhaps they would be in a wikipedia entry or actual encyclopedia entry I consider this to a good grouping of concepts together. Each synopsis is likely to prove useful, intersting and enlightening to any general reader, this book is likely to prove useful as a primer if you're considering studying psychology but its really only introductory material. I guess it could prove helpful in a, broadly speaking, self-help manner if you are the sort of person who benefits from the insights provided by a book like this, although that's not really its intent.

The best chapters are probably thouse on hearts and minds, personality and society and cognition and the book is 2008 so its pretty much in date too.
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on 25 June 2011
Had a few interesting chapters, but found it wasn't as detailed as the other books in the series. Quite a few chapters talk very generally about a point without naming specific good studies or workers/thinkers in the field. I would probably look elsewhere for a good introductory psychology book.
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on 15 July 2010
I read a lot of management and personal improvement books, but this is the first book about pure psychology that I've read. It covers a wide variety of topics to do with the mind and behaviour. A great introduction to the topics within psychology if (like me) you are new to this field. I imagine most people would find the contents interesting: whether you are a student wondering whether to study psychology at university or just a general punter wanting to be entertained and educated.
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on 25 June 2013
I love these 50 ideas books. I have almost the full set and they are interesting and informative in and easy to understand format! A brilliant way to have a little understanding about some important things!
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on 14 June 2013
The book arrived on time and in good condition and seems to be helping with my other half's psychology diploma. It has all the fundamental ideas she is working on in her coursework.
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on 2 January 2011
Having contact with psychologists through mental illness I found this very good at understanding their view points. If you have a primary skill like software design these books are invaluable. They give just enough detail to set your mind thinking about how your professional skills might be applied to another subject. The series may not make you a true polymath, but it certainly fits together a lot of missing pieces concerning our interesting world.
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on 27 March 2013
The book was just what I was looking for. It was very interesting, though a tad scattered as a book.
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on 2 June 2014
Bought this book as I have a interest in psychology, and it is very basic in they way it described and explains it's theory's, which is brilliant for beginners or people, who must have a personal interest in the subject. Great value for money very good.
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This book contains introductions to 50 topics in psychology that touch our everyday lives. It could be an apt gift from a college psychology major to the parents or anyone else who wonders what psychology is all about. Copies of selected chapters might be used by an instructor to prompt group discussion or individual research. This book could also find its place in a psychologist's waiting room or on a coffee table as a conversation starter.

Each chapter is self-contained and delivers a two- to four-page capsule treatment of its topic. Most chapters contain definitions of key concepts, relevant historical quotes, and timelines across the bottom of the first two pages. Boxes set off from the text effectively summarize key information. Example boxes include dimensions of emotional intelligence (p. 57), diagnostic criteria for identifying substance abuse problems (p. 14), and different types of psychopathology (p. 25) and delusion (p. 48).

Several chapters are particularly informative for such brief introductions. The IQ and You chapter (p. 68) outlines the strengths and weaknesses of intelligence testing and fairly overviews research about differences in subgroup performance on these measures. Detecting Lies (p. 88) not only cautions about reliability of lie detector tests, but summarizes more promising findings on "emotional leakage" as signs of deception. The Judgment and Problem-Solving chapter (p. 116) presents useful findings about the reasoning biases that afflict us in personal and business situations. Finally, the Mastering Complexity chapter (p. 180) covers complex learning, development of expertise, and the psychology of language--a good complement to the two chapters on simple behaviorist learning that precede it.

This book has a good topic index and an adequate two-page glossary, but utterly lacks references to supporting literature. This is a mistake for a book designed to provoke interest in psychology. Readers should be aimed at further reading when they are at their thirstiest for more knowledge. This minor flaw will hopefully be remedied in the next edition.
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on 3 July 2014
This book is a nice little introduction to those interested in psychology. I would say some of the topics are better than others in terms of detail and understanding provided. By A-Level psychology I had encountered all the topics mentioned and by degree level it was redundant. Don't expect a great deal of information but worth a look if you are interested in psychology or thinking of doing a qualification in psychology. I think it could be improved further by more references to specific studies and literature for those really interested.
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