Psy-Q is a collection of interactive psychology experiments, games, puzzles, quizzes and illusions published by Profile (UK), Penguin (USA), Green Bean (China), Sinbad (Russia), Droemer (Germany), Vallardi (Italy), Domingo (Turkey) and Tänapäev (Estonia).
“A clear and engaging explanation of many psychological phenomena you’ve vaguely heard of, and many more you’ll be glad to learn about.” – Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought.
“A book that manages to be both broad and deep, serious but lots of fun. Recommended. ” – Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back
“A cornucopia of brain-teasers and other (psycho)logical delights that will challenge, surprise and amuse” – Guy Deutscher, author of Through the Language Glass and The Unfolding of Language
You’ve heard of your IQ; your general intelligence. But what’s your “Psy-Q”? How much do you know and understand about what makes you tick? And how good are you at predicting other people’s behavior…or even your own?
The aim of this book is to share the answers that psychology has come up with to explain how and why humans do all the things we do. But it is not some dry, dusty psychology textbook, filled – as most are – with details of long, boring experiments and byzantine theories. What you want to know is what psychology can tell you about you and your life. Well, I’m not going to tell you. Instead, I’m going to show you, via a series of interactive tests, quizzes, puzzles, games and illusions. Of course, we don’t have everything figured out right now. But by the time you reach the end of this book, you will not only have the very best answers that science can offer, but will also have gained a powerful insight into your own psychology.
Notice that I used the word “science”. As a psychology researcher, I’m first andforemost a scientist. Psychology derives its value from following the scientific method: We come up with theories, and test them using the most controlled experiments possible. Every study that we meet over the course of this book is drawn from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. And whilst scientists rarely reach a consensus on anything, the explanations and conclusions I give are based on my reading of the best evidence that is currently available, with no wild conjecture, no pseudoscience, and absolutely no pop-psychology pap. So, whilst you’ll encounter both cutting-edge studies and plenty of classics, there are very few from the period before psychology established itself as an experimental science, somewhere in the 1950s.
But Psy-Q doesn’t just describe these studies, it is these studies. You’ll measure your personality, intelligence, moral values, thinking style, impulsivity, skill at drawing, capacity for logical reasoning, musical taste, multitasking ability, susceptibility to illusions (both visual and mental) and preferences in a romantic partner. You’ll learn how we as a species think, feel, see and respond to others. You’ll be surprised, delighted, amazed, amused, frustrated, horrified and downright baffled. You’ll turn psychologist and ask friends and family to complete the studies in order to compare your results. You’ll run to your computer to complete online versions of the studies, many at the companion website (www.Psy-QBook.com). And by the end of your journey, I hope you’ll have begun to see that psychology is everything: there is literally no aspect of the human experience that cannot be investigated, in some way or other, using the methods of experimental psychology.