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Virgil Zeigler-Hill (Ed.)

This insightful book takes the reader on a thoughtful journey through the history, development and function of self-esteem. The authors’ avid contributions to self-esteem research over the past 10 years come across in what is a well-written and well-structured book that will give any reader a great overview of the field. Narcissism, fragile self-esteem and understanding self-esteem through the ‘status-signalling model’ are particular themes throughout the book.


At times the distinctions between the sub-types of self-esteem are difficult to grasp, but the book does particularly well to integrate key psychological theories with research. For example, those with secure attachment styles are more likely to base their self-esteem on love/support from family, whereas competition or gaining approval may be more relevant for others.


This book will raise interesting questions for the reader including whether self-esteem is an evolutionary signal used to convey desirability to potential mates. Research shows that people pick up on self-esteem signals simply by viewing a person’s photograph or their e-mail address.


Psychology Press; 2013; Pb £26.99

Reviewed by Melissa Clapp, who is a Project Worker at the Royal College of Psychiatrists


The Science of Intimate Relationships

Garth Fletcher, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lorne Campbell & Nikola C. Overall

I began this book with some trepidation. Did I want to sit and spoil the mysteries that surround intimate relationships through exploring the science behind them? I succumbed to the temptation and was pleasantly surprised. My reading did not spoil the mysteries, but reinforced how fascinating the functions of human relationships are.


From beginning to end the book is clearly written, following a logical transition from the development of relationship bonds in infancy to the dissolution of intimate relationships. Evolutionary and social psychological perspectives underlie much of the book and research in this area, but as informative as the book is it is unable to provide firm conclusions – a true reflection of the infancy of the research area. Biological and cognitive perspectives inform the knowledge of the relationship brain; ensuring many psychological perspectives are covered thoroughly. Balanced arguments and detailed information, provided from multiple perspectives, allow the reader to form their own opinion on the topics covered.


The authors provide up-to-date research to support the information provided, as well as using creative case studies to help the reader imagine the situations and interactions between the individuals within the intimate relationships.  


The authors state the aim of this book to be a reference text for upper under/postgraduate courses. I would highly recommend this text as it uses a factual, yet informal, style of writing. Reading this book will stimulate awareness of the relationships we all have and increase mindfulness on how we relate to the intimates in our lives.


Wiley-Blackwell; 2013; Pb £29.99

Reviewed by Sheryl Parke who is Assistant Psychologist HIV/Sexual Health, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust


The Oxford Handbook of Happiness

Susan A. David, Ilona Boniwell, & Amanda Conley Ayers (Eds.)

The Dalai Lama once said that the purpose of humans lives is to be happy. Why is being happy so important? What is happiness? These questions may have bugged our minds, at least mine, for some time. I personally find The Oxford Handbook of Happiness an eye-opening resource of understanding happiness.


The Oxford Handbook of Happiness is an attempt to provide comprehensive approaches in studying and practising happiness. Written and edited by many renowned scholars, such as Martin Seligman, Joar Vittero, and many others, this handbook is divided into 10 sections covering 79 chapters. The sections focuson psychological, philosophical, spiritual and developmental approaches to happiness; happiness in many areas of life (e.g. society, education, organisations, relationships); and happiness interventions.


One of the strengths of this handbook is to include the notion of humans

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