Principles of Psychology

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About This Course


Welcome to Psychology, an OpenStax College resource. This textbook has been created with several goals in mind: accessibility, customization, and student engagement—all while encouraging students toward high levels of academic scholarship. Instructors and students alike will find that this textbook offers a strong foundation in psychology in an accessible format.

About OpenStax College

OpenStax College is a non-profit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Our free textbooks go through a rigorous editorial publishing process. Our texts are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of today’s college courses. Unlike traditional textbooks, OpenStax College resources live online and are owned by the community of educators using them. Through our partnerships with companies and foundations committed to reducing costs for students, OpenStax College is working to improve access to higher education for all. OpenStax College is an initiative of Rice University and is made possible through the generous support of several philanthropic foundations. Since our launch in 2012 our texts have been used by millions of learners online and over 1,200 institutions worldwide.

About OpenStax College’s Resources

OpenStax College resources provide quality academic instruction. Three key features set our materials apart from others: they can be customized by instructors for each class, they are a "living" resource that grows online through contributions from educators, and they are available free or for minimal cost.


OpenStax College learning resources are designed to be customized for each course. Our textbooks provide a solid foundation on which instructors can build, and our resources are conceived and written with flexibility in mind. Instructors can select the sections most relevant to their curricula and create a textbook that speaks directly to the needs of their classes and student body. Teachers are encouraged to expand on existing examples by adding unique context via geographically localized applications and topical connections.

Psychology can be easily customized using our online platform ( Simply select the content most relevant to your current semester and create a textbook that speaks directly to the needs of your class. Psychology is organized as a collection of sections that can be rearranged, modified, and enhanced through localized examples or to incorporate a specific theme of your course. This customization feature will ensure that your textbook truly reflects the goals of your course.


To broaden access and encourage community curation, Psychology is “open source” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. The psychology community is invited to submit examples, emerging research, and other feedback to enhance and strengthen the material and keep it current and relevant for today’s students. Submit your suggestions to [email protected], and check in on edition status, alternate versions, errata, and news on the StaxDash at


Our textbooks are available for free online, and in low-cost print and e-book editions.

About Psychology

Psychology is designed for the single-semester introduction to psychology course. For many students, this may be their only college-level psychology course. As such, this textbook provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of psychology and understand how those concepts apply to their lives. The text has been developed to meet the scope and sequence of most general psychology courses. At the same time, the book includes a number of innovative features designed to enhance student learning. A strength of Psychology is that instructors can customize the book, adapting it to the approach that works best in their classroom.

Coverage and Scope

Our Psychology textbook adheres to the scope and sequence of most introductory psychology courses nationwide. We strive to make psychology, as a discipline, interesting and accessible to students. A comprehensive coverage of core concepts is grounded in both classic studies and current and emerging research, including coverage of the DSM-5 in discussions of psychological disorders. We have incorporated features and discussions that reflect the diversity within the discipline, as well as the diversity of communities across the globe, with attention to cultural competence. We include research and examples that seek to represent and include the various sociocultural backgrounds of the many students who take this course. The result is a book that covers the breadth of psychology topics with variety and depth that promote student engagement. The organization and pedagogical features were developed and vetted with feedback from psychology educators dedicated to the project.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Psychology

Chapter 2: Psychological Research

Chapter 3: Biopsychology

Chapter 4: States of Consciousness

Chapter 5: Sensation and Perception

Chapter 6: Learning

Chapter 7: Thinking and Intelligence

Chapter 8: Memory

Chapter 9: Lifespan Development

Chapter 10: Motivation and Emotion

Chapter 11: Personality

Chapter 12: Social Psychology

Chapter 13: Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Chapter 14: Stress, Lifestyle, and Health

Chapter 15: Psychological Disorders

Chapter 16: Therapy and Treatment

Pedagogical Foundation

Throughout Psychology, you will find features that draw the students into psychological inquiry by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:

  • Everyday Connection features tie psychological topics to everyday issues and behaviors that students encounter in their lives and the world. Topics include the validity of scores on college entrance exams, advertising and associative learning, and cognitive mapping.
  • What Do You Think? features provide research-based information on a controversial issue and ask students their view through discussions like “Brain Dead and on Life Support,” “Hooters and BFOQ Laws,” and “Intellectually Disabled Criminals and Capital Punishment.”
  • Dig Deeper features discuss one specific aspect of a topic in greater depth so students can dig more deeply into the concept. Examples include a discussion on the distinction between evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics, an analysis of the increasing prevalence rate of ADHD, and a presentation of research on strategies for coping with prejudice and discrimination.
  • Connect the Concepts features revisit a concept learned in another chapter, expanding upon it within a different context. Features include “Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Expression of Emotions,” “Tweens, Teens, and Social Norms,” and “Conditioning and OCD.”

Art, Interactives, and Assessments That Engage

Our art program is designed to enhance students’ understanding of psychological concepts through simple, effective graphs, diagrams, and photographs. Psychology also incorporates links to relevant interactive exercises and animations that help bring topics to life. Selected assessment items touch directly on students’ lives.

  • Link to Learning features direct students to online interactive exercises and animations that add a fuller context to core content and provide an opportunity for application.
  • Personal Application Questions engage students in topics at a personal level that encourages reflection and promotes discussion.


OpenStax projects offer an array of ancillaries for students and instructors. The following resources are available.

  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Test Bank

Our resources are continually expanding, so please visit to view an up-to-date list of the Learning Resources for this title and to find information on accessing these resources.

About Our Team

Senior Content Lead: 

Rose M. Spielman, PhD

Dr. Rose Spielman has been teaching psychology and working as a licensed clinical psychologist for 20 years. Her academic career has included positions at Quinnipiac University, Housatonic Community College, and Goodwin College. As a licensed clinical psychologist, educator, and volunteer director, Rose is able to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and facilitate treatment, advocacy, and education. In her years of work as a teacher, therapist, and administrator, she has helped thousands of students and clients and taught them to advocate for themselves and move their lives forward to become more productive citizens and family members.

Senior Contributors:

Kathryn Dumper, Bainbridge State College

William Jenkins, Mercer University

Arlene Lacombe, Saint Joseph’s University

Marilyn Lovett, Livingstone College

Marion Perlmutter, University of Michigan


Daniel Bellack, Trident Technical College

Jerimy Blowers, Cayuga Community College

Salena Brody, Collin College

Bettina Casad, University of Missouri–St. Louis

Sharon Chacon, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Barbara Chappell, Walden University

James Corpening

Frank Eyetsemitan, Roger Williams University

Tamara Ferguson, Utah State University

Kathleen Flannery, Saint Anselm College

Johnathan Forbey, Ball State University

Laura Gaudet, Chadron State College

William Goggin, University of Southern Mississippi

Jeffery K. Gray, Charleston Southern University

Heather Griffiths, Fayetteville State University

Mark Holder, University of British Columbia

Rita Houge, Des Moines Area Community College

Colette Jacquot, Strayer University

John Johanson, Winona State University

Andrew Johnson, Park University

Shaila Khan, Tougaloo College

Carol Laman, Houston Community College

Thomas Malloy, Rhode Island College

Jan Mendoza, Golden West College

Christopher Miller, University of Minnesota

Lisa Moeller, Beckfield College

Hugh Riley, Baylor University

Juan Salinas, University of Texas at Austin

Brittney Schrick, Southern Arkansas University

Phoebe Scotland, College of the Rockies

Christine Selby, Husson University

Brian Sexton, Kean University

Nancy Simpson, Trident Technical College

Robert Stennett, University of Georgia

Jennifer Stevenson, Ursinus College

Eric Weiser, Curry College

Valjean Whitlow, American Public University

Licenses and Attributions