The following books are explained from a cognitive sciences perspective and rely strongly on psychology or sociology.

For example one of the books about seduction speaks of Pavlovian conditioning. Additionally, even though they don't often use words like "rationalization" the books are often written by psychologist.

Are these books classified as psychology books?

Further clarification

Under the name of Cognitive Sciences are going a lot topics.
From very low level science to more applied. But the books I've cited are at a very high level (and since that also less verifiable). This kind of stuff is still classified as "applied psychology" or something like that?

They don't deal with stuff like "rationalization" but with the consequences of it. (i.e. childish behaviour, assertive behaviour, seduction, manipulation, conditioning, emotions, self-esteem handling, NLP, and so on..)


You can probably classify non-fiction books written for a lay audience into three categories:

  1. Books written by experts and summarizing research in a non-technical language that can be understood by non-experts. The only difference between such a book and a research article is that this book simplifies the findings and cites its sources in a vague and general manner.

  2. Books written by non-experts who quote only those research findings that appear to support their opinion and dismiss (and do not mention) what contradicts them.

  3. Fantasy, prejudice, and other ignorant ramblings.

Most of the Pick Up theory falls into the second category. People like Mystery are successful with their pick up routines in a specific setting and with a highly select sample of women (US, white, middle-class, club goers). So their methods are valid. What is completely false is their assumption that all women (and men) are the same and that their methods will work for everyone everywhere. They read some popular science books, and whenever they read something that resonates with their experience, they believe they have found the scientific proof for how and why what they did worked for them and they quote it in their books to give them credence. European Pick Up Adepts have found that much of what people like Mystery recommend (e.g. peacocking) does not work in their culture. Many others find that many women do not react favourably to other routines (e.g. push-and-pull). The very fact that even "master" PUAs have to "next" many women (or stand on the street for minutes before they find someone whose body language signals the right kind of susceptibility) shows that the popular claim that you can pick up any woman any time is nothing but a power fantasy and marketing lie. Pick Up only works for those women and men for whom it works, and that is all the "science" there is to it.

Dale Carnegie is a motivational speaker. His books fall into the third category. They are as true as religion. They have positive effects for those who believe in them, but you can be equally successful by doing everything completely different than he recommends. They don't "work", because they are true, but because they make you believe in yourself and give you the courage to try.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't agree a lot on your opinion of Dale Carnegie. I think that a lot of people have a very low self-esteem or are neurotic. Dale Carnegie suggest to avoid criticizing people and most of the times it's completely a very good idea. What's your opinion on that? Maybe I can open a question.. $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 18 '14 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Many biblical wisdoms are very good ideas, too. Don't kill, love your neighbor, etc., all good advice. But that does not make them science, just common sense. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Mar 18 '14 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'm curious about what science can say of criticizing people's reaction.. I will open a question. PS: can you give a glance at this question also? cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/5984/… $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 18 '14 at 9:59

Sparring Mind lists an exhaustive list of the best cog sci books, focusing particularly on peer influence and persuasion.

The books range from selp-help tips and tricks to more focused research on a particular aspect of social psychology. The best thing about some of the books listed here is that the anecdotes are not just interesting to read, but are also well grounded in published psych research.

Some personal favorites from this list:

  1. Cialdini's "Influence: Science and Practice" & "Yes! (50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive)"
  2. Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow"
  3. Heath brother's "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die"
  4. McGonigal's "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works"

I also try to read up any new stuff that comes from Dan Ariely and Sheena Iyengar. I've found their insights very helpful to (and at times in opposition with) my day to day decision-making.

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  • $\begingroup$ psychology as a religion isnt the same as psychology as a science. $\endgroup$ – user3832 Mar 18 '14 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ i wont downvote because i am following you cause your new and stuff $\endgroup$ – user3832 Mar 18 '14 at 4:19

Everything is psychology. The question do these books have a basis in scientific principles of well established healthy psychology. Modern scientific progress is found through peer review. All of those books did not pass peer review and probably contain poor citations so technically the answer is no they are not well founded on psychological science.

However just because it isn't properly founded in correct methodology doesn't mean it cant contain nuggets for use in psychology. You can learn many things from tearing down a bad prototype engine and finding out what went wrong and right in the design.

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    $\begingroup$ Those books did not not pass peer review. They were never submitted to a peer review process in the first place. Everything is psychology only in the lay meaning of the word. If you understand psychology to be the scholarly study of emotions and behavior, then most is not psychology, even though it may deal with emotions or behavior. Modern scientific progress is not found through peer review, but by experimentation, familiarity with the published knowledge in your field, honesty and scepticism. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Mar 18 '14 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ Peer review is a critical part of the modern scientific process. For science to progress, research methods and findings need to be closely examined to decide on the best direction for future research. After a study has gone through peer review and is accepted for publication, scientists and the public can be confident that the study has met certain standards, and that the results can be trusted. springer.com/authors/journal+authors/… $\endgroup$ – user3832 Mar 18 '14 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ The purpose of peer review is not to advance scientific progress, as your answer implies, but to control the publications for adhering to the standards of experimentation, data analysis, literature review etc. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Mar 18 '14 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @what controlling the flow of information through survival of the fittest is the productive way scientific progress happens. $\endgroup$ – user3832 Mar 18 '14 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ the standards of experimentation and data analysis and literature review evolved from peer review not the other way around. $\endgroup$ – user3832 Mar 18 '14 at 12:41

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