Understanding Psychology

Charles G. Morris / Albert A. Maisto  
Total pages
December 2009
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For introductory psychology courses at two year and four year schools


This book presents a scientific, accurate, and thorough overview of the essential concepts of psychology in engaging language that the average student can easily comprehend. It is current without being trendy; and it is written clearly and accessibly.


Scientific Foundation
Students come into this course with a lot of preconceived ideas about what psychology is and a key part of the introductory course is for students to understand the scientific basis of the discipline. Morris and Maisto present a scientific, accurate, and thorough overview of the essential concepts of psychology in engaging language that the average reader can easily understand. The NEW edition of Morris/Maisto has over 700 new references, almost all from 2007 to present.


Three Unifying Basic Concepts:

  1. Psychology is a science that is rapidly evolving: The 9th edition contains more than 700 new research references, more than 90 percent of which are from 2007-2009. 
  2. Human behavior and thought are diverse, varied, and affected by culture: Attention to diversity is found in every chapter, beginning with a discussion of the importance of understanding human diversity in Chapter 1; to the interdependence of  language, thought and culture discussed in Chapter 7; through to gender and cultural differences in psychological disorders which are covered in Chapter 12.
  3. The study of psychology involves active thinking, questioning, and problem solving: Dozens of challenging 'Thinking Critically About' exercises encourage the reader to engage in genuine critical thinking by questioning the methods used to gather data, considering possible alternative explanations for findings, and imagining further research that might shed additional light on the phenomenon under study.

Chapter 1 introduces five enduring issues which cut across and unify all subfields of psychology. These enduring issues are revisited in each subsequent chapter. By exploring these enduring issues within the context of specific topics, Understanding Psychology 9e shows the surprising unity and coherence within the diverse and exciting science of psychology.

  1. Person-Situation: To what extent is behavior caused by factors inside the person, such as thoughts, emotions, and genes? In contrast, to what extent is behavior caused or triggered by factors outside the person, such as incentives, cues in the environment, and the presence of other people?
  2. Nature-Nurture: Is the person we become a product of innate, inborn tendencies or a reflection of experience and upbringing?
  3. Stability-Change: Are the characteristics we develop in childhood more or less permanent and fixed or do we change in predictable (and unpredictable) ways over the course of our lives?
  4. Diversity-Universality: Because we are all human, each person is like every other person. But is some respects, each of us is like no other person. Thus, anywhere humans exist there will be both similarity and diversity.
  5. Mind-Body: How are mind and body connected? Many psychologists are fascinated by the relationship between what we experience, such as thoughts and feelings, and biological processes, such as activity in the nervous system.



Helpful Student Study Aids:

  • Learning Objectives-- new to this edition, learning objectives are provided throughout every chapter to help students identify the key issues and to serve as study aids.
  • Talking Graphics--helps students understand how the graphics relate to the material they are covering.
  • Check Your Understanding and Apply your Understanding--questions appear in the quiz section at the end of each major section to help students review and retain concepts, as well as apply what they've learned to real-life situations.

New to this Edition

  • NEW learning objectives highlight key content for students and help to organize the supplementary material, allowing for easy customization by instructors
  • Over 700 NEW references for this edition, of which 634 are from 2007-2009. Morris/Maisto provide a thorough review of introductory psychology and the authors are very careful to include only recent research which has been supported by enough studies to qualify it as 'accepted' by the psychological science community. Examples of new topics in the Ninth Edition include coverage of the insula (a brain region linked to addiction), virtual reality simulation, inattentional blindness, multitasking (with special attention to cell phone use while driving), predisposition to compulsive eating, Pinker's theory of language development, the role of expressive writing in reducing stress and Sternberg's WICS theory of leadership.
  • Updated examples through, particularly in the areas of culture and diversity. For example, expanded the coverage of culture and perception, a new discussion of cross-cultural differences in patterns of sleep, new material on gender differences in perceiving friendliness vs. sexual interest, and an expanded discussion of cultural differences in what people eat. New material was also added on cross-cultural studies of moral development, and on gender and cultural differences in coping with stress. 
  • Instructors and students often complain of the growing “encyclopedic” books in introductory psychology. Through judicious editing by the authors, all the new content in the 9 th Edition does not increase page count–in fact the new edition is about 10% shorter than the previous edition 
  • The visual content of the book has also been updated, with new chapter-opening photos and many new marginal photos throughout. 
  • NEW Learn/Watch/Hear/Explore/Practice Icons integrated in the text lead to Web-based expansions on topics, allowing instructors and students access to extra information, videos, podcasts, and simulations. The icons are not exhaustive; many more resources are available than those highlighted in the book, but the icons do draw attention to some of the most high-interest materials available at www.mypsychlab.com.
  • NEW on-line audio podcasting tool with preloaded podcasts on a variety of topic.
  • Completely NEW Interactive PowerPoint Slides built around the text learning objectives, drawing students into the lecture and providing wonderful interactive activities, visuals, and videos directly in the slides. A video walk-through is available and provides clear guidelines on using and customizing the slides.
  • A NEW feature for the test bank is the inclusion of rationales for the correct answer in the multiple choice questions. The rationales help instructors reviewing the content to further evaluate the questions they are choosing for their tests and give instructors the option to use the rationales as an answer key for their students. One of the most respected test banks on the market today, this test file contains over 4,000 multiple-choice, true/false, and essay questions. Item analysis also included for many of the items in the test bank–indicating how many students answered that question correctly in class-testing at both 2-year and 4-year schools. In addition, the text author, Charles Morris, has carefully reviewed the test file and has indicated a number of “Author’s Choice” questions because of their challenging nature or interesting focus.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:      The Science of Psychology

Chapter 2:      The Biological Basis of Behavior

Chapter 3:      Sensation and Perception

Chapter 4:      States of Consciousness

Chapter 5:      Learning

Chapter 6:      Memory

Chapter 7:      Cognition and Mental Abilities

Chapter 8:      Motivation and Emotion

Chapter 9:      Life-Span Development

Chapter 10:    Personality

Chapter 11:    Stress and Health Psychology

Chapter 12:    Psychological Disorders

Chapter 13:    Therapies

Chapter 14:    Social Psychology

Appendix: A:   Measurement and Statistical Methods

Appendix B:    Psychology Applied to Work


Charles G. Morris   Charles G. (Tony) Morris received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois. He joined the University of Michigan in 1965 as Assistant Professor of Psychology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971 and Professor in 1987. He served as Associate Dean in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and as Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology. Upon his retirement in 2002, he was appointed Emeritus Professor. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.

He is the author of more than two dozen books, more than a dozen articles, and more than thirty papers and presentations. His books include Psychology: An Introduction, Psychology the Core, Understanding Psychology, Basic Psychology, Psychology: Concepts and Applications, and Contemporary Psychology and Effective Behavior.

His early research centered on leadership, group interaction, and group problem solving. More recently, his publications and presentations have focused on various aspects of undergraduate education, on contemporary views of leadership, and on the 'Big 5' personality traits.



Albert A. Maisto    The Carnegie Foundation's U.S. Professor of the Year for 1997-1998, Albert A. Maisto is the Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professor for Teaching at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he is also Associate Dean for the Honors College. Maisto earned both a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Psychology from The University of Alabama, with an emphasis in Mental Retardation and Applied Cognitive Development. While at UNC-Charlotte, Professor Maisto has held several positions including Coordinator of the Undergraduate Psychology Program, Faculty President, and Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Earlier in his career he served as a visiting Professor to The University of Nottingham in England, and he spent two years on the faculty of The University of Connecticut. Throughout his career Dr. Maisto has distinguished himself as an exemplary instructor of general psychology winning the prestigious Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence.

Maisto's portfolio includes dozens of published articles in refereed journals, professional papers, and a successful series of Introductory Psychology textbooks published by Pearson Education.