Psychology books for design and UX.

Psychology books designers must read

Introductory & Popular Psychology Books

Getting started. Primers and popular science books that are easy to read and give a good overview of psychology. Light on application in design, big on explanation.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. One the best books ever written on psychology. How people make decisions, view the world. An essential read.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Nudge by Richard H Thaler. The classic on encouraging people to change their behaviour. From eating healthier food managing their finances better. Great for big conceptual problems life sized problems and how to design to address them.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Drive by Daniel H Pink. All about motivation. What motivates people to do what they do. Great for setting product design direction.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely looks at how our unconscious mind influences what we do.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Applying Psychology to Digital and Product Design

Books that apply psychology to design. Practical advice and tips you can apply to your designs right away.

Psychology for Designers by me. A primer on Psychology outlining all you need to know to get started with psychology from the different types of psychology to finding and applying psychology theories to your design problems.
Buy now.

Universal Principles of Design is a book I return to again and again. It offers a clear overview of 115 key theories and their application within design. If you buy any book make it this one.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Psychology of Price by Leigh Caldwell. A great little book on how people process monetary value and how to frame and set the right price.
Amazon UK | Amazon US

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk does what it says. Lots of theories applied to design.
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Mental Notes from Stephen P. Anderson are a set of cards that highlight a psychology insight and suggests a way of using that in design. A really useful, practical resource.
Buy Mental Notes

Academic Psychology Textbooks

Taking it further, serious books for serious people. These books are written by academics for students and other academics so use big fancy words and go into a lot of detail. Typically they don’t tell you the so what, that is they explain a theory but don’t go into the practical application of that theory. The field of Human Computer Interaction, combining cognitive psychology theory with application to technology offers the some practical books for UX and digital designers are more useful.

Cognitive Psychology and its Implications – is by far and away the most useful of the academic text books. It’s accessible and as its name suggests tells you in practical terms what the significance of the theory is.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour is a great primer on theory and offers good examples of psychology in practice.
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Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook Now in its 6th Edition is a good A-Level or 101 psychology book. Older versions are still good and considerable cheaper.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

Human Computer Interaction is a great introduction to the basics of psychology and interaction design.
Amazon UK | Amazon USA

What did I miss?

You might have noticed what I left out. I stay away from the books on persuasion or influence because they just don’t sit comfortably with me.

I’m sure there are other psychology books you love, leave a comment and suggest one.

Don’t have time to read all these books? Learn psychology theory and how to apply it to design and user experience in a workshop.

Psychology for Design and UX the Workshop

8 thoughts on “Psychology books for design and UX.”

    1. Great Book List ! – But are many of the books on persuasion or influence based on the principles of influence pioneer Robert B. Cialdini (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion)

  1. Great Book List ! – But are n’t many of the books on persuasion or influence based on the principles of influence pioneer Robert B. Cialdini (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion)

  2. Donald Norman – Design of Everyday Things
    Donald Norman – Emotional Design – Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
    Jonah Berger – Contagious, Why Things Catch On
    Nir Eyal – Hooked, How to Build Habit-Forming Products

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