Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

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Abstract

Reviews the book, The Norton Psychology Reader by Gary F. Marcus (Ed.) (see record 2006-03271-000). The Norton Psychology Reader is only a fraction of the size of its counterparts in literature. The small size should not be interpreted to mean that it is of lesser quality. Indeed, the book captures the essence of contemporary psychology and the evocative debates present in the many subcategories of the discipline. As with most of the Norton anthologies, The Reader samples from a range of authors, eras, and topics. The Reader includes chapters covering research methods, sensation and perception, learning, intelligence, personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. In total, there are 17 chapters, each with two and sometimes three essays. Clearly, The Reader is intended to be a supplementary text for the introductory psychology course. Students who read this book will surely be introduced to the breadth of the subject matter by their traditional textbook. One impulse that may arise when reading the table of contents is to criticize what is missing from the reading list and to second-guess what has been included. My first reaction was to question why readings from Pavlov, Rescorla, or Skinner were not in the chapter on learning. However, judgments regarding what the editor has unfairly left out or unreasonably added represent the personal bias of the reviewer. Faculty hoping to provide depth to their introductory psychology courses may find The Reader a suitable supplement. The essays are accessible and present to the reader serious topics within psychology. Given the proper instruction and guidance, students may also find that the essays serve as a touchstone for further thought and discussion regarding psychology's many provocative insights into human thought and behavior.

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