Good resources for learning practical psychology for design?


I think quite a few people would be interested in exploring more about the intersection of cognitive psychology and user experience design. We’ve got a couple of threads getting going on related topics, such as Cognitive bias and UX, Cognitive psychology in information architecture, and Dark patterns and persuasive design.

Here’s a quick list of my ‘go to’ tools and resources to kick things off:

  1. 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.
  2. Psychology for Designers by Joe Leech. 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.
  3. Universal Principles of Design offers a clear overview of 115 key theories and their application within design. A very handy book, and one that I refer to constantly.
  4. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk. Just what it says on the label. Lots of theories applied to design.
  5. Mental Notes card deck from Stephen P. Anderson are a set of cards that highlight a psychology insight and suggests a way of using that in design. A second edition is in the works.
  6. Persuasive Patterns card deck by Anders Toxboe, 54 insights from psychology, presented in a manner easily referenced and used as a brainstorming tool:

What other resources and tools do you find useful for intentionally including psychology in your design work?


Zavyalov Artem (co-founder of Highbrow) has listed a couple of free, online psychology courses you can take. Numbers 2, 3, 7 and 10 in his list look the most relevant to design.


Excellent topic.

Two of my favourites:

Principals of Social Psychology by Dr. Charles Stangor. This is a brilliant, easy-to-read introduction to social psych.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, who is one of my favourites. This book isn’t about design, it’s about persuasion and influence, but it has a lot of useful takeaways.

UserTestingBlog also write some good articles like:
Cognitive Psychology for UX: The Principle of Limited Attention
Cognitive psychology for UX: how to avoid the false consensus effect
Cognitive psychology for UX: 7 Gestalt principles of visual perception
Cognitive Psychology for UX: The Principle of Least Effort

and my favourite
9 Behavioral Psychology Books For Persuasive UX Design

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There are a couple of books recommended fro design which I took from the topic Intersection of Psychology and Design. If you want to look at the details of all the books surely visit the link.

The Architecture of Happiness
Alain De Botton

Art as Therapy
Alain De Botton

Art as Therapy
Alain De Botton

Color Psychology and Color Therapy
Faber Birren

Designing for Emotion
Aarron Walter

Daniel H. Pink

Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing
Richard L. Gregory

Finding Flow
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The Happiness Hypothesis
Jonathan Haidt

The Interpretation of Dreams
Sigmund Freud

Jung’s Psychology and Tibetan Wisdom
Radmila Moacanin

Carol Dweck

Mel Gooding
Julian Rothenstein

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
Sigmund Freud

The Telephone Book
Avital Ronell

The Wisdom of Insecurity
Alan Watts



I’d recommend Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson as well. It’s really well written and easily applicable.
Also, Susan Weinschenk just wrote another edition, 100 More Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People.
Finally, I have this card deck called Mental Notes Cards that I just can’t recommend enough. They’re great for group projects or just to look through. (These were mentioned in the original post, but I am adding a +1).

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That’s a long list, @rachelbeckett36! Thanks for sharing the recommendations. Have you read these? Which ones are the most useful?

Great to see there’s a followup edition of Susan Weinschenk’s book, @jdebari. The first one was so approachable, fascinating and useful that I imagine it’s only a matter of time before the second is sitting beside it on my shelf. =)

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wow! you’ve already got a huge list up here. I am a big fan of Susan Weinschenk’s 100 things every designer need to know about people and the 100 more things too. former is actually one of the most helpful books I found on the topic. But for a quick read, you will find this article from Psychology Today also helpful.


Thanks @neonester. The points made in that article are profound, and useful in everyday life too. Especially #2. =)

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Love this thread! Great list! :slight_smile:

I’ve actually decided to take it a step further and pursue post grad studies in psychology. I found out earlier this week that I’ve been accepted into a graduate diploma of psychology at Monash! It’s entirely online and designed for people who work full time. Can’t wait to get started at the end of October! Check it out here if you’re interested in reading more:

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I bought it last week at the airport! Haven’t had a chance to read it yet but I will :slight_smile:

We got this one at uni (industrial design) about a week before the extended version came out so mine only has 100 hahaha but it’s still amazing!


Wow! What a huge list. I’m loving it :slight_smile:

My favorite book - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


Lots of reading to catch up on! I just came across this list of cognitive biases, might come in handy :slight_smile:


You might also want to check out an updated version of the Mental Notes cards:

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Indeed, thanks Anders. They’re the same Persuasive Pattern cards I mentioned in my original post above. They’re not a new version of Stephen Anderson’s original cards, but they are similar.


Brilliant thread! My reading list just grew a bit.


thanks @Lukcha … it was a worth read


I don’t suppose there is any way of getting these added / categorised on the Monster list of UX books or having a new list created? Some really brilliant books listed here but would be nice to have them all in one place :slight_smile:

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Sure, leave it with me.


I’d recommend the online MOOC “The Science of Everyday Thinking” run by the University of Queensland on edX. It’s taught in a very engaging way, where the instructors discuss the topic of the week together, and interview experts in the field (including Daniel Kahneman). There’s no direct link to design, but much of the content is very relevant. Plus it’s free (unless you want a verified certificate).

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