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Introduction to Psychology

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Description: This textbook includes learning objectives, key takeaways, exercises and critical thinking activities, and a marginal glossary of key terms. In short, I think that this book will provide a useful and productive synthesis between your goals and the goals of your students. I have tried to focus on the forest rather than the trees and to bring psychology to life—in ways that really matter—for the students. At the same time, the book maintains content and conceptual rigor, with a strong focus on the fundamental principles of empiricism and the scientific method. Zip file contains HTML version of the book.

Author: Charles Stangor

Original source: www.saylor.org/books, flatworldknowledge.lardbucket.org

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Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Review this book

Review the Canadian edition of this book here

Reviews for 'Introduction to Psychology'

Number of reviews: 3
Average Rating: 4.03 out of 5

1. Reviewed by: Denise Iacobucci
  • Institution: Camosun College
  • Title/Position: Faculty
  • Overall Rating: 3.8 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

When conducting this review I compared this text to four other introductory textbooks (Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco, 2010; Myers, 2013; Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, & Muir, 2011; Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner,2013).
The Preface and Approach and Pedagogy sections of this text do a good job of declaring the focus on both human behaviour and empiricism and how this focus limits coverage of topics found in many other introductory textbooks. Limited coverage reduces number of chapters and chapter size.
For example, it is customary to find an overview of all perspectives of psychology within the first chapter or two (ie. as in Myers, 2013; Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, & Muir, 2011). Stangor provides a table (Table 1.3) of different areas of psychology in Chapter One, but does not review humanistic psychology, the biological/neuroscience perspective, and/or Gestalt Psychology as one might expect. Although humanistic psychology is covered in Chapter 11(Personality) on page 631 it comes much later in the text and is discussed in terms of personality theory development. Although Stangor on p. 23 in Chapter 1 comments on the growing number of women in psychology, he does not highlight historical contributions of women and other cultures (i.e., Margaret Washburn, Maime Phipps Clark) to the field of psychology. Similarly, in Chapter Six (Growing and Developing) there is less focus on gender development, aging well, and later adult development with no reference to systems theory/bioecological theory in development (i.e. Bronfenbrenner, 2004) (i.e., Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco, 2010). Generally, Stangor’s text has limited coverage of health psychology, stress and well-being, motivation & achievement, and Canadian researchers. There is also limited discussion of cultural differences and similarities regarding topics and research throughout the text.
On-line versions of the text as noted here http://www.saylor.org/courses/psych101/ have a nicely laid out Table of Contents, the printed version or pdf version does not. Including this in the printed copy would be helpful to students in order to navigate the material. Similarly, chapter summaries that include a list of key terms covered within a chapter have been very helpful to introductory psychology students. The insertion of key terms at the end of a chapter along with an addition of a glossary for terminology would make this text more accessible and easy to navigate.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The inclusion of video clips on concepts, research, and applicable stories enables students to see psychology as they read through each chapter online. This is an advantage over commercial texts; however, these links are not always easily accessible via the pdf, WORD, downloaded versions. The HTML zip file did have these links.
Although this text has a moderate number of basic images to illustrate concepts throughout each chapter, these could be updated and increased in number to keep students engaged with the material. Many other commercial introductory texts have more realistic and colourful images to depict concepts throughout each chapter. For example, Chapter 7 (Learning) has four images including charts and graphs while other commercial introductory texts have 30 or more images on learning (i.e., Myers, 2013; Passer et al., 2011). Addition of pictures of researchers would also highlight the people contributing to psychological science.
I noted some issues with image consistency within a chapter. For example, in Figure 3.6 – Cross-section of the brain is not very clear with the green space indicating the frontal lobe being very small. However, in Figure 3.10 frontal lobe location is more clear and consistent with other texts.

Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

The lack of information on certain topics, such as epigenetics, gender development, work/achievement motivation, cultural perspectives in combination with the static vs. active phrasing of definitions can, at times, date this text. Stangor’s definition of learning “the relatively permanent change in knowledge or behaviour that is the result of experience” (p. 348) is static when according to the definition offered by Myers (2013, p. 266) “the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or behaviours”. The active/present tense phrasing of this definition, in my opinion, is more dynamic. Given the Houston Community College (2011)example of editing this text, updating this version by adding sections is possible.

Relevance Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is clear and easy to understand. For the topics covered, they are well explained.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Stangor indicates in the Preface that each chapter has a "chapter opener" (p.8). This is not the case and I would add this feature to Chapters 1 and 2.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The modularity of this text lends itself well to updates and edits.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Generally, Chapters 1 through 10 flow well. My preference would be to move the social psychology chapter (Stangor’s Chapter 14) to follow the personality chapter (Stangor Chapter 11), rather than having social psychology last in this text.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Although it is helpful to see italicized words in the body of the text, bolded words draw student’s attention to the importance of these concepts. Adding a bolded type face along with a list at the end of the chapter would be helpful to introductory students. In the hard copy and downloaded pfd/Word copies I noted many that the Psychology in Everyday Life sections were written in a smaller font and subsequently not as easy to read.
As noted in previously, not all video links worked when reviewing the text online – if information was provided about the source in the text it was easy to look this up and review these clips. As well, this online resource could have more interactive online exercises for students throughout the text. As noted in previous answers, diagrams and figures could be improved to provide more realistic images of biological components of psychology (i.e., the neuron, brain, synapse).

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Grammatical errors did not stand out as I read for content, organization, consistency et cetera. I did note spacing issues between words a few times in the text. For example, on page 30 on my hardcopy and WORD document/pdf downloaded copies the words “ofevolutionary” required a space between the words, p. 310 “usinglongitudinal” and on p. 657 “Thesocial”. These spacing issues between words seemed to be in the pdf, WORD and hard copies. Perhaps this comment is better suited in the interface answer.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

For me, the text is culturally dated (ethnocentric) based on what is not discussed and some of the examples used in the text. Of the 12 chapters that have Chapter Openers, only 3 of these used examples from outside the United States. The other examples were from Canada and Australia. Highlighting research from psychologists in different countries and cultures would add to this text as would more discussion on cultural as context for behaviour. For example, Chapter 11, does not discuss in detail how collectivist cultures differ on personality research versus more individualistic cultures. Chapter 14 on group behaviour does not address how culture mediates group behaviour as discussed in many other commercial texts (i.e. Myers 2013, Gerrig et al, 2010). Today’s students in British Columbia are from all over the world and I think this text could do a much better job of including cultural perspectives and examples within each chapter. Although Stangor mentions the importance of culture in Chapters, he does not extend the discussions on how & why culture is important to psychology theory and research. For example, in Chapter 12 - the social cultural influences provided are socioeconomic status, homelessness, abuse, and discrimination are all culturally specific. There is limited discussion on disorders unique to different cultures (i.e., phobias), disorders more predominantly found in certain cultures et cetera. The focus is on the American population. Commercial texts often cover the cultural variations in disorders (i.e. Gerrig et al, 2010). Based on the review I would recommend changing the White Ghost story in Chapter 1 and supplementing Canadian and more International examples in the Chapter Openers.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I believe it is important to provide an overview of all the major psychological perspectives in the first chapter or two. I would add those sections/content noted in answer to question 1 and 3 of this review. In particular additional content on student/worker motivation, health psychology and stress incorporating student examples would be useful. As noted in question 11 highlighting Canadian researchers Canadian researchers on topics discussed in text. As well, I think it would be helpful to create a student guide to the text as did Houston Community College (2011)or add student glossary, index of terms to the text. As well, the chapter summaries require more active reviews - such as multiple choice question review or something similar that has answers somewhere in the text or online where students can check their understanding of material.

2. Reviewed by: Jennifer Poole
  • Institution: Langara College
  • Title/Position: Chair, Department of Psychology
  • Overall Rating: 3.9 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

In the author’s preface, he states that the typical length of introductory psychology textbooks serves as a detriment to student learning. Consistent with his concern, his text is not as comprehensive as others I have used to teach introductory psychology. Whereas a typical text in this area might include 16 to 18 chapters, his text has only 14 – specifically, it is missing a separate chapter on Stress, Health, and Coping (stress receives some coverage in Ch. 10 but other topics in that chapter on Emotion and Motivation are not covered as a result). Many of his chapters are also shorter in length and contain less content than the texts I would typically use. Some of the chapters combine topics (e.g., Ch. 9 - Intelligence and Language) that are often treated in separate chapters in other texts. I suspect that this text may have initially been designed for use in an American one-semester introduction to psychology course. In BC, introductory psychology is offered across two semesters, often as two separate courses (e.g., Psych 101 and Psych 102).

Some missing topics include an introduction to inferential statistics (Ch. 2), an in-depth discussion of the application of psychological principles to the workforce, achievement motivation (Ch. 10), etc.

The text contains a Table of Contents but no Index. Although the author states (in the Preface) that the text contains a marginal glossary of key terms, I could not find such a glossary. However, when I hover my cursor over a key term, a box with the key term’s definition pops up.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

For the most part, I found the content to be accurate, error-free, and unbiased. However, I took issue with Stangor's initial presentation of the “Science” of psychology (in Chapter 1). I found his use of Dr. Phil as an example of a psychologist to be misleading. Such an example seems to contradict the author’s stated pedagogy of emphasizing psychology’s empiricism and seems to feed student misconceptions about what psychology is. He also seems to mention Freud a lot (end of section 1.1, Ch. 5) – again, not a good example of the empirical aspect of psychology. Although Stangor presents criticisms of Freud’s Psychodynamic theory in Chapter 11, he still overemphasizes this theory’s contribution to the field and glosses over the major concern of lack of falsifiability.

Also, PTSD seems to be over-represented in terms of problem behaviours (two of 12 chapter openers describe cases related to PTSD; PTSD is discussed in four chapters - 7,10, 12, and 13).

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Some of the content of this text is out-of-date. For example, in section 1.2, Stangor refers to APS as the American Psychological Society, as opposed to the Association of Psychological Science. The discussion on the DSM (and associated Figure 12.6, and Table 12.3) needs to be updated to the DSM-V (see also criteria for ADHD in box at beginning of Chapter 13). Also, whenever Stangor discusses the influence of nature and nurture, he tends to pit them against each other – the old “nature versus nurture” jargon (see Chapter 11 on Personality - is personality more nature or nurture?; Chapter 9 on Intelligence – is intelligence nature or nurture? ). A more contemporary viewpoint is “nature through nurture” which would be exemplified by the inclusion of a discussion on epigenetics. The text presents some recent research in the area of neuroscience – but it needs more, otherwise it risks becoming obsolete in the next few years. The text would also benefit from the inclusion of more research on the impact of technology on student behaviour (e.g., how/ why does the use of cell phones impact our driving?; are our personalities evident in our online spaces , like facebook?). If we want to show students why psychology matters, we need to present more research that is personally and contextually relevant to them (e.g., how does stress impact today’s students?).

Although I appreciated the attempt to insert appropriate videos and images, I found this book’s screen display to be very text heavy and not very engaging. I currently use ebooks to teach my hybrid introductory psychology classes and I think the images used in those books are superior to Stangor’s – the images occur more frequently throughout the text, and they are more colourful and in many cases, more relevant to the student lifestyle. Also, the ebooks I use tend to be more interactive – students can actually complete an exercise on a particular concept right after they have read about it by clicking on an icon in the ebook.

Relevance Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is well-written and easy to understand. Adequate context is provided when introducing new psychological concepts and explaining them. One exception is in the box on emotional intelligence at the end of section 9.1. The terms reliability and construct validity are used without being previously discussed or defined. They are defined later in Chapter 11.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is mostly internally consistent. Each chapter (with the exception of Chapters 1 and 2) begins with a “chapter opener” that describes an interesting case study. Learning objectives are presented at the beginning of each section of a chapter (although I find them too broad to be very useful). Each section ends with key takeaways and an “exercises and critical thinking” section. Each chapter ends with a chapter summary.

One inconsistency occurs in the introductory section of each chapter. Most chapters include a brief overview of what is to be covered in the chapter with the exception of Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 12.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

This text could easily be subdivided into smaller reading sections – instructors could assign particular sections within a chapter. Chapters could be assigned in any order to accommodate introductory psychology courses which are typically offered as two courses.

However, I think this modularity comes at a price. Psychology is a discipline where there are recurring themes. I find the lack of delineated connection between chapters disconcerting.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The one exception is the inclusion of a discussion of social dilemmas at the end of Chapter 7 on Learning. This discussion doesn’t really fit with the rest of the chapter; a clear explanation of how/ why it fits into this chapter is missing.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

The full reference for each citation in the text seems to be embedded in the body of the text throughout the whole book. I am not sure if this was some glitch in the formatting of the version of the text I downloaded but it was exceedingly disruptive to the flow of reading. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out where the next sentence began after the reference! Also the font in a number of the Figures is too small to read (for example, Fig. 1.5, 2.2, 3.17, 4.29, 5.9, 9.4, 10.4, 10.6, 10.8, 13.7, 14.9, 14.13, 14.15). There is an issue with the formatting of Table 5.1 (the latter part of the table is cut-off).

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text contained few grammatical errors - I think I only found two typos!

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text is fairly ethnocentric. It does not include any introduction to or discussion of the differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures. Although the author provides some research on ethnic and cultural differences (e.g., discussion of stereotype threat and ethnic differences on IQ test performance in Chapter 9, etc.), I think it would benefit from the inclusion of more research findings on cultural diversity, especially given the multicultural composition of our Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The following are some examples of where the discussion of cultural differences could be expanded:

i) How do cultural perceptions influence the onset and prognosis of psychological disorders? (Chapter 12)

ii) In Chapter 9, the author states that “Intelligence is defined by the culture in which it exists,” but there is no elaborative discussion on the meaning of intelligence in collectivist cultures.

iii) At the end of Section 11.1, the author states that “there is evidence that the Big Five factors are not exactly the same across all cultures” but he doesn’t elaborate on these differences. Such a statement seems to contradict an earlier observation that “Big Five dimensions seem to be cross-cultural, because the same five factors have been identified in participants in China, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, and many other countries.”

iv) Chapter 10 would benefit from the inclusion of a discussion on cross-cultural differences in the perception and expression of emotion, as well as cross-cultural differences/ similarities in happiness. For example, many argue that happiness is only important in societies that emphasize individualism.

v) Likewise, Chapter 13 would benefit from an inclusion of the effect of culture on treatment outcomes.

vi) Research presented on causal attributions in Chapter 14 is only true for individuals in individualistic cultures. What type of self-serving attributions do people from collectivist cultures make? What does cross-cultural research reveal about the fundamental attribution error?

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

This text is very American in content. No Canadian reviewers are listed. All American statistics would need to be replaced with Canadian ones (e.g., Table 12.1, Figure 13.2, etc.). Specifically, the section on ethics in Chapter 1 would need to be revised to be consistent with Canadian policies. The discussion of Bilingualism and Cognitive Development in Chapter 9 needs to be modified to include the Canadian example of French Immersion. The case at the beginning of Chapter 11 could be replaced with a Canadian twin example – there are many to choose from. Also, it would be nice to include some examples from our Aboriginal culture.

3. Reviewed by: Jodi-Ann Dattadeen
  • Institution: Simon Fraser University
  • Title/Position: Graduate Teaching Assistant
  • Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Stangor’s text is not as comprehensive as some of the other introductory psychology textbooks that I have used. Compared to some of the leading texts (Gerrig, Zimbardo, Desmarais, & Ivanco; 2010 and Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner; 2013), this text has fewer chapters and the chapters are noticeably shorter or more concise. However, the text does a great job of providing in-depth coverage of some of the key domains or areas that would be covered in any introductory psychology course. Two major limitations in coverage include a lack of emphasis on organizational psychology and limited focus on health psychology. The text has a strong focus on the behavioral theme and the principle of empiricism. For instance, each chapter provides specific examples of research within that subject area, and includes a summary of the hypotheses, methods, results, and interpretations. The text also contains a Table of Contents and definition of key terms.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The content including diagrams and other additional material is accurate and for the most part unbiased.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Since university students are the primary audience of this text, the content could be more engaging and interactive. The text is relevant in the sense that it provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the key topics that would be covered in an Introductory Psychology course. However, the text is lacking in coverage of more ‘modern’ issues such as psychological phenomena that are associated with or affected by emerging technology as well as trends in organizational psychology. The text is written in a manner in which necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is well written and easy to understand. The author provides adequate context for terminology and concepts used throughout.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework while maintaining depth and clarity.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text is well organized and divided into easily digestible sections. The various sections can be assigned at different points within the course without disrupting or confusing the reader.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The topics and modules are organized in a logical and straightforward manner. The organization of the text lends itself well to shifting back and forth from one content area to the next depending on the pedagogical style of the professor or the emphasis of the course.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

The text is free of any features including images/charts that may distract or confuse the reader. One major limitation regarding the text’s interface is the lack of bolding of key terms or concepts.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text does not contain any grammatical errors.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

Stangor’s text is culturally dated given the tremendous diversity (gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, religion) among North American residents. Also, the text lacks critical theory of how culture shapes individual behavior. The text’s labeling of LGBT individuals as “homosexual” is insensitive and outdated.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?