3 New Social Psychology Books You Should Buy

“The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he knows about it the better. ” – Claude Hopkins

Who am I to argue? Claude Hopkins was one of the world’s best direct marketers.

The problem is, this quote was written decades ago, way before the internet. To update it, all you have to do is replace “advertising man” with “online marketer.”

Why is psychology so important? Well, it helps you discover why people do the things they do. This is priceless for online marketers because each explanation creates an opportunity for you to improve your marketing.

So, let’s get down to business. Here are the three social psychology books that will help you with your online marketing:

1. The Art of Choosing

This wonderful book by Sheena Iyengar (affiliate link) came out in March 2010. In it, you’ll discover how and why people make choices in business, political, and social settings. If you’re an online marketer armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to construct better sales page that sell and convert like crazy. If you want a preview, check out my previous blog post about online sales.

2. Switch

How do you get people to change when change is hard? An interesting question, right? Well, the Heath brothers set out to answer it in their new book (affiliate link). The insight they provide is essential because people are often “set in their ways,” and if you’re an online marketer pitching information products, this book can show you how to create lessons that actually get people to work on what you tell them.

3. Drive

This is an intriguing book (affiliate link) by Dan Pink. In it, he notes that companies motivate people with “carrots and sticks,” which don’t work, and often do harm, for more challenging, creative tasks. Since online marketers often create contests and give away free stuff to generate buzz, this new way to motivate people may help you create more effective buzz campaigns, without upping the ante. Or, in other words, more traffic for less money. Win.

Have you ready any social psychology books that will help with online marketing? Please take a moment and talk about them in the comments!

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19 comments Leave a comment

Nice list here Derek. I enjoyed the Heath brothers Made to Stick along with Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human so I will check out these other books.



    The Heath Brothers right great books. Switch is really good. I’ll check out Dan Pink’s book.

Lynn Daue

Have you read Unconscious Branding by Douglas Van Praet yet? It’s a phenomenal book about the psychology of advertising and how marketers can (legally, morally) harness our unconscious behavior to generate sales. I highly recommend it!

Coach Comeback

Added all of these to my to do list pile along with your previously suggested “Influence” by Robert Cialdini

Thank again for being such a valuable resource on the web

Tim O'Toole

Some of the best books I’ve read lately, including Drive, are:
Brain Rules – John Medina
Brainfluence – Roger Dooley
Imagine – Jonah Lehrer
and Buy-ology – Martin Lindstrom
All of these have been incredibly fascinating reads and they dovetail beautifully with what Derek talks about every day.
Thanks again for all the incites Derek, keep up the great work!

Jacquelyn Dunn

I am new to exploring what makes people work so thanks for the tips on the books

Kevin Thompson

The one book that you forgot about is “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene. It covers the art of making people fall in love with you, may it be for lovers or followers. It covers more psychology than any other book I’ve read.

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Sonia Simone

The one I’m recommending to all business owners now is less about the psychology of the customer and more about the psychology of the businessperson — it’s Carol Dweck’s Mindset. I’m convinced that the central issue she talks about & studies is a big part of that #1 problem for entrepreneurs — that we don’t implement, or we don’t implement consistently.

    Andy Fogarty

    A friend of mine just gave a copy of Mindset this weekend. He said it was a great book for anyone, entrepreneur or not. As soon as I finish my current read I’m going jump right in.


My favorite psychology book is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Every marketer should sleep with it under his or her pillow.

Another great book, though not geared specifically to marketers, is Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.


    I’m totally with you there… on both counts. I own both of those books, but this post’s main focus was “new books.”

    However, now that I think about it, I probably should create a top 10 list for the best social psychology books ever. What do you think?


      Do a Top 10! Influence by Cialdini is about as mandatory a read as any book can be. Its pure gold.

      Andy Fogarty

      I’m totally up for a top 10 list. Definitely a must.

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I just picked up “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)”

It covers the beginning of Psycho Physics and how price studies evolved from there. It includes a bunch of very interesting studies, experiments and suggestions.

I’m totally fascinated by it ( and I’m only 1/4 if the way through )

More: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/23/priceless-how-our-un.html


    Great call on that book. I’ll have to check it out for sure.

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