Essentials of Psychology, Sixth Edition
Essentials of Psychology, Sixth Edition

Essentials of Psychology, Sixth Edition

Lead Author(s): Stephen Franzoi

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Essentials of Psychology, from BVT Publishing, is a concise yet comprehensive textbook with all of the content required to teach a typical Introduction to Psychology course. This Top Hat version contains everything you need for before, during, and after class. Students can read fully customizable chapters with built-in active learning components and formative assessment elements. Each chapter is accompanied by PowerPoint slides with built-in comprehension questions and engagement tools. After class students can engage with pre-made, fully customizable homework assignments, plus chapter summaries for student review. There is also a comprehensive chapter-by-chapter Instructor’s Manual; pre-made customizable midterm and final exams; and extensive test banks.

Essentials of Psychology

Essentials of Psychology, sixth edition, by Franzoi. Copyright BVT Publishing.
* The following content is based on the textbook Essentials of Psychology, sixth edition by Franzoi, from BVT Publishing, however the content may have been modified by others.

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Copyright © 2018 by BVT Publishing, LLC

To the women in my life, Cheryl, Amelia, and Lillian;
To my parents, Lou and Joyce;
And to my brother and sister, Randy and Susie:
Together, and singly, they influence the essential elements of my life.


Why do I describe psychology as a discovery experience? Much of my reasoning is very personal: My own study of psychology, including my career in this scientific discipline, has been a true journey of discovery. Growing up in a small town did not offer many opportunities to learn about the social sciences. However, during my first year in college, I was introduced to psychology and became hooked. I spent the following summer reading a stack of psychology books. After my sophomore year I began conducting research. As you will learn when reading Chapter 1, one of my more interesting undergraduate research projects involved studying the followers of a religious cult. Since then, I am repeatedly reminded that the science of psychology is a valuable way to understand behavior and the process of living on this planet.

What can I offer you as an enticement to read this book? Well, are you interested in becoming more competent in dealing with future life events? Psychology involves the ‘‘study of the mind.’’ As such, introductory psychology offers you the hope that course material will help you better understand not only other people but also yourself. Seeking such knowledge is a distinguishing feature of young adulthood, and the college experience is specifically designed to foster this quest. In writing this text, I sought to bring to these pages that same message of hope and discovery that infuses the entire field of psychology. Does this sort of journey interest you?

I have written this text in a way that introduces you to the science of psychology as a journey of discovery, undertaken both by researchers in their search for knowledge over the past century and by students over the course of the term. I explain how psychology has expanded our understanding of how people think, feel, and behave, while also motivating you to apply this knowledge to better understand yourself and others. By regularly encouraging you to consider how psychological knowledge relates to your own life, I place your learning experience within a personally relevant context that will help you remember course material, while also fostering self-insights that can be applied to your daily living.

The history of psychology is infused with compelling stories of how researchers’ intense interest in learning about the nature of human and animal behavior led them on a journey of discovery that eventually culminated in important new knowledge. The fundamental difference between our personal journeys of discovery and the journeys of discovery found in psychology is that the vehicle employed in the latter journeys is the scientific method. Throughout Essentials of Psychology, I present discovery stories in psychology so that you will appreciate both the human element and the ever-evolving nature of scientific knowledge and insight.

Following Chapter 1’s introduction to psychology—which covers the field’s history, areas of specialization, and research methodology—we examine the subject matter spanning the entire field of psychology. Each chapter also includes boxes that discuss selected studies in detail. This emphasis on the scientific enterprise encourages a healthy scientific skepticism of the many, often contradictory, commonsense truisms we learn from others.

One last thing I would like to mention about the stories you will read in this book is that some of them involve personal disclosures about me and my friends and family. Because I am asking you to take this discovery journey with me, I think it is only fair that I share some of my life experiences as they relate to chapter topics. I hope you enjoy these stories and that, in turn, you begin to consider how psychological knowledge can help you understand some of your own past and unfolding life stories. 

Encouraging Self-Discovery

While encouraging you to analyze the scientific journey of discovery in psychology, the text also facilitates a personal journey of discovery by including more than 20 Self-Discovery questionnaires that ask you to consider how the specific text material relates to your life. Many of these Self-Discovery Questionnaires include self-report surveys that researchers currently use to study the selected self-discovery topic, and the results of studies employing them are part of the text material. Thus, as you learn about various psychological theories and relevant research findings, you also learn something about yourself.

Applying Psychology to Everyday Experience

Beyond self-report questionnaires, I also present a Psychological Applications section at the end of each chapter that demonstrates how psychology can be applied to your life. In these sections, you learn how the theories and research in a particular chapter can be applied to real-world settings. Topics covered in the Psychological Application sections include: developing critical thinking skills, learning how to exercise self-control in your academic and personal life, improving everyday memory, encouraging your creativity, coping with jealousy, and many others.

Encouraging Critical Thinking

You can develop an understanding of yourself and others by reading astrological predictions, internalizing the varied messages of popular culture, and uncritically accepting the advice and ‘‘wisdom’’ of friends, family, and (yes!) college professors. Yet, what is the value of this understanding if it is not subjected to critical cognitive analysis? Critical evaluation is an important component of Essentials of Psychology. Throughout the text, critical thinking is facilitated by numerous Closer Look boxes that examine specific chapter topics in greater detail and encourage you to ponder and analyze the research and theory underlying each topic. Each chapter also features Journey of Discovery questions, which require critical analyses of current discussion topics. Possible answers to these questions are provided in the appendix. Strategically placed Info-bits in each chapter provide additional information on selected topics. Critical thinking is also encouraged by the questions frequently posed in the main body of the text, inviting you to guess a study’s hypotheses, results, or alternative interpretations of findings. Questions that appear in the captions of figures, tables, and photos inspire further analysis of text material. Last, but certainly not least, are the end-of-chapter Practice Quiz questions. These questions test your knowledge of various topics and the end-of-text answers provide immediate feedback on the extent of your understanding.  

Recognizing the Diversity and Unity of People

Integrated within this book’s journey of discovery theme is the encouragement to recognize the ways in which people are both similar to, and different from, one another. Essentials of Psychology tells the story of the science of psychology in such a way that you will recognize the ‘‘yin-yang’’ of unity and diversity, whether you are trying to understand the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of your college roommates or those of people from other cultures. This emphasis on diversity can be seen most clearly in the numerous Exploring Culture & Diversity boxes found throughout the book.

The text not only analyzes how culture and our individual developmental experiences influence the way we think, feel, and behave but also examines how humans, as a species, often respond similarly to their physical and social surroundings. The ‘‘yin’’ in this diversity-unity analysis is the sociocultural perspective, while the ‘‘yang’’ is the evolutionary perspective. The text explains that the culture of a people is based on their relationship with the environment, and the evolution of our species is a story of how we have adapted to our surroundings. Thus, just as our bodies and brains are products of evolutionary forces, so, too, is our culture. Yet, cultural change occurs much more rapidly than genetic change. This is why the world’s cultures vary greatly, despite little meaningful genetic variation among cultural groups.

Two belief systems that explain how individuals relate to their groups, and that are important to understanding the psychology of human behavior, are individualism and collectivism. Individualism is a philosophy of life stressing the priority of personal goals over group goals, a preference for loose-knit social relationships, and a desire to be relatively independent of others’ influence. In contrast, collectivism is a philosophy of life stressing the priority of group needs over individual needs, a preference for tightly knit social relationships, and a willingness to submit to the influence of one’s group. Although we know that cultures differ in their individualist-collectivist orientations, we do not know whether one is better than the other in any ultimate evolutionary sense. Essentials of Psychology periodically examines how the psychology of people from different cultures differs due to their individualist-collectivist bents. For those chapter topics where the individualist-collectivist analysis is not especially relevant, other more relevant cultural factors are highlighted.  

New to the Sixth Edition

The sixth edition of Essentials of Psychology has a great deal of new content, including many new photos, figures, and tables, as well as more than 300 new references. Other significant changes in this new edition include:

Chapter 1
       • New discussion of politicians’ views on, and understanding of, science
       • New section on gossiping

Chapter 2
       • Expanded coverage of the cerebral cortex
       • New information on keeping the brain healthy
       • New information on genetic testing

Chapter 3
       • New information on teratogens
       • New information on divorce and attachment
       • Expanded coverage of gender identity and gender socialization
       • New section on the development of self-regulation in children
       • Expanded coverage of emerging adulthood
       • Expanded coverage of cross sex friendships
       • Expanded coverage of single-parent households
       • New discussion of chronological age versus functional age
       • Expanded coverage of communicating with the dying

Chapter 4
       • New chapter-opening story
       • Expanded discussion of bottom-up versus top-down processing
       • New reported research on parapsychology

Chapter 5
       • New chapter-opening story
       • New research on daydreaming
       • New information on NREM sleep
       • New information on the history of sleep habits
       • Expanded coverage of dreaming, including the dreams of the dying

Chapter 6
       • New information on the effects of violence in video games

Chapter 7
       • Revised discussion of memory rehearsal
       • Revised discussion of levels of information processing
       • Expanded coverage of absentmindedness

Chapter 8
       • New chapter-opening story
       • New information on academic gender gaps

Chapter 9
       • New chapter-opening story
       • Completely revised topic coverage (moving discussion of emotion to Chapter 13)
       • Added discussions of obesity, body esteem, and eating disorders
       • Expanded coverage of date rape and the rape myth
       • Expanded discussion of sexual identities
       • New Psychological Applications section on the inhibition of condom use on college campuses

Chapter 10
       • Expanded coverage of the five-factor model

Chapter 11
       • Completely revamped chapter organization based on the DSM-5 revision
       • New section on hoarding disorder
       • New section on reactive attachment disorder
       • Revamped section on personality disorders

Chapter 12
       • New information on mindfulness in cognitive-behavior therapy

Chapter 13
       • Completely reorganized chapter
       • New chapter-opening story and added coverage of emotion
       • Revised discussion of the stress response
       • Completely revised section on coping with stress
       • Revised coverage of the psychology of happiness
       • New Psychological Applications section on managing test anxiety

Chapter 14
       • New section on the benefits of being helpful
       • New information on cross-cultural differences in marriage
       • New section on how social disapproval negatively impacts romantic relationships
       • New section on how being playful benefits romantic relationships
       • New Psychological Applications section on how the Internet can influence voting behavior  

Pedagogical Aids

Essentials of Psychology enhances learning with the following pedagogical devices:

  1. Each chapter opens with a chapter outline.
  2. Short-sentence headings compactly summarize the content of chapter sections and facilitate recall of text topics.
  3. A bulleted summary at the end of each major chapter section reviews the section’s most important concepts.
  4. Beautifully rendered, four-color illustrations throughout the text clarify and enhance chapter concepts.
  5. Key terms and concepts are highlighted and defined on first appearance. Key terms are also defined in the text margins and listed in alphabetical order with page references at the end of each chapter. A glossary at the end of the book presents all of the definitions alphabetically. 
  6. Journey of Discovery Questions within each chapter require critical analyses of current discussion topics. Possible answers are found online, as well as in the appendix at the end of the book.
  7. Info-Bits briefly describe the results from psychological studies that enhance text material.
  8. Quotes from famous individuals in other fields illustrate text material.
  9. Self-Discovery questionnaires, Exploring Culture & Diversity boxes, and Closer Look vignettes enhance your understanding of a variety of topics. See the List of Vignettes on page xv.
  10. Psychological Applications sections help you to apply each chapter’s psychological concepts to real-world situations.
  11. Suggested websites at the end of each chapter provide online sources that you can access to obtain a better understanding of chapter material.
  12. Review Questions at the end of each chapter allow you to check your comprehension of the chapter’s major concepts.  

APA Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology

The APA Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) has developed a set of principles and recommendations for creating a world-class educational system that provides students with

  •  the workplace skills needed in the Information Age
  • a solid academic background that prepares them for advanced study in a wide range of fields 
  • the knowledge, skills, and values they will need to enter and succeed in the workforce and thrive in their daily lives.

These principles and recommendations are available at:    


While writing this text, many people provided me with invaluable assistance and understanding. I first want to thank my family for not only supporting my writing efforts and forgiving my memory lapses during this time but also providing me with wonderful examples of psychological principles that I have used throughout the text.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to the students in my introductory psychology courses at Marquette University over the years, who are the first ones exposed to my new stories of the psychological journey of discovery. I would also like to thank the numerous family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers who allowed me to take their photos for use in the book.

There are a number of people I would like to warmly thank at BVT Publishing. First, I would like to thank Publisher and Managing Director Richard Schofield for seeing the value of this project and providing the necessary resources to bring it to fruition. I would also like to thank the many people I worked so closely with while completing this sixth edition: Managing Editor Anne Schofield, Product Development Manager Shannon Conley, Senior Designer Esther Scannell, Designer/Typesetter Suzanne Schmidt, and Reference Editor Tiffany Koopal. All of these talented people did a wonderful job coordinating and organizing numerous book tasks, many of which I was not even aware! I would also like to thank Proofreader Matt Ferguson and Production and Fulfillment Manager Janai Escobedo for their work on the project.

Numerous reviewers, who obviously care very much about psychology and the art and craft of teaching, generously provided feedback during the writing of this text. I would like to thank:
Paul Bell, Colorado State University
Wayne Briner, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Sheila Brownlow, Catawba College
Trey Buchanan, Wheaton College
Adam Butler, University of Northern Iowa
Robert Caldwell, Michigan State University
Jorge Conesa, Everett Community College
James R. Cook, University of North Carolina–Charlotte
Tom Copeland, Hardin Simmons University
Wendy Domjan, University of Texas–Austin
Natalie Dove, Purdue University
Carol Edwards, Purdue University North Central
Ron Faulk, St. Gregory’s University
Gary D. Fisk, Georgia Southwestern State University
Donelson R. Forsyth, Virginia Commonwealth University
Susan M. Frantz, Highline Community College
Traci Giuliano, Southwestern University
Wind Goodfriend, Purdue University
Judith Harackiewicz, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Robert M. Hessling, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Deborah E. Horn, Blinn College
Neil Levens, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Scott F. Madey, Shippensburg University
Michael Major, Loyola University of New Orleans
Michael S. Ofsowitz, University of Maryland, European Division
Daniel Osherton, Rice University
Maria Pagano, New York City College of Technology
Debra L. Palmer, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
Ellen Peters, University of Oregon
Laura Richardson, University of Guam
Alan Searleman, St. Lawrence University
Robert R. Sinclair, Portland State University
Jason S. Spiegelman, Community College of Baltimore County
Leland Swenson, Loyola Marymount University
Alan Swinkels, St. Edward’s University
Kris Vasquez, Alverno College
Lona Whitmarsh, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Bob Wildblood, Indiana University, Kokomo
Brian T. Yates, American University  

And Finally …

I welcome your comments and feedback. The prospect of being able to develop a robust exchange of ideas with current users, both students and faculty, is truly exciting. You can reach me at

Very best wishes,
Steve Franzoi

About the Author    

photo of author Stephen Franzoi

Stephen Franzoi is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his BS in both psychology and sociology from Western Michigan University, his PhD in psychology from the University of California at Davis, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Self Program at Indiana University. Professor Franzoi taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in social psychology and, in 2013, was honored with the Marquette University Teaching Excellence Award. During his career, he has served as assistant editor of Social Psychology Quarterly and associate editor of Social Problems, and his own research has been published in a number of places, including Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychology of Women Quarterly, American Sociological Review, Journal of Research in Personality, Sex Roles, and Journal of Personality. Dr. Franzoi’s primary research investigates the impact of gender on body esteem, and he has discussed his work in such media outlets as the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. He and Cheryl Figg are the proud parents of Amelia and Lillian. In his spare time, Dr. Franzoi enjoys relaxing with his family, bicycling, and making and writing about wine for the Wisconsin Vintners Association.