The best books on Cruelty and Evil, recommended by Paul Bloom

How do evil-doers justify their behaviour? A common view of evil sees dehumanisation as fundamental. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom argues, however, that the picture may not be so simple. The most callous acts of cruelty and evil involve recognising the human feelings of the victim, their ability to feel shame and humiliation.

The best books on The Psychology of War, recommended by Rose McDermott

Traditionally, the study of international relations has been about institutions, not individuals and the psychology that motivates them. But that is changing. Rose McDermott, professor of international relations at Brown University, introduces the work of Robert Jarvis and others pioneering the field of ‘political psychology.’

The best books on The Decline of Violence, recommended by Steven Pinker

Our TV screens may be full of news about war and crime, but this masks a fall in historical terms in the number of violent deaths that’s nothing short of astonishing, says Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. He tells us how and why this happened. (This interview was updated 17 December, 2020, to include books that have come out since it was published in 2011)

The best books on Lying, recommended by Dorothy Rowe

All our behaviour is determined not by what happens to us, but how we interpret what happens to us, says the psychologist and bestselling author. And we don’t always tell ourselves the truth. Dorothy Rowe chooses the best books on lying.

The best books on Cowardice, recommended by Chris Walsh

The acting director of the Writing Program at Boston University argues that cowardice can still be part of our ethical vocabulary, but that we must learn from history’s mistaken identification of the traumatised as cowards.