My shelfie… Dr Jackie Abell (Reader in Social Psychology, Coventry University

Reader in Social Psychology, Coventry University; Director of Research for the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust

The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator Prey Relations
George Schaller
This is my ‘go to’ book for anything lion-related. Written in 1972 it is still the most comprehensive book and valuable source of information about this magnificent species. Reflecting three years spent in the Serengeti National Park studying lions, Schaller shares the drama of working in the African bush, but also his data and personal observations on lions. It is this book which led to my fascination for the social structure of lion life and the realisation that maybe social psychologists might have something to contribute on how social groups work.

Golden Shadows, Flying Hooves
George Schaller
Schaller made me fall in love with lions and Africa. If you want a book that will take you on a magnificent trip to African wildlife and scenery without the complications of data and theory, this is the perfect companion without needing to leave your living room. Schaller takes you on the most extraordinary journey of his life on the Serengeti, including the animals he saw, the people he met, the issues he faced and even his own pets. Read this and you’ll be booking your next trip to Tanzania.

Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature
Gene and Myers & Susan Clayton
Here is a book I was delighted to find! It reassured me that I hadn’t lost the plot when I began connecting social psychology to wildlife conservation (and lions!). Had I taken the discipline too far, to the African bush and her lions? This book highlights the need for psychologists on conservation teams. The theories and concepts are all psychological and familiar, but they are applied to environmental challenges. Conservation is primarily about people, and until we can understand and motivate people to act positively towards the environment and wildlife, we will continue to see declines, degradation and losses in all natural species. Good job we psychologists know a thing or two about people!  

Arguing and Thinking
Michael Billig
A modern classic that forged my career in psychology. I was encouraged to read it by my thesis supervisor, Dr Nick Hopkins, whilst I was an undergraduate at the University of Dundee, and I’m glad he did as it set the course for my academic career as a psychologist. Basically this is a very entertaining but clever lesson in arguing! Questioning assumptions, looking for the rhetorical other and noticing rhetorical absences is fundamental to social psychology and to our quest for the ‘truth’ and that bottom-line argument to end all arguments.  Everything is up for grabs in this book. Professor Billig became my PhD supervisor, and I remain humbly grateful for the professional training I received in arguing and thinking. It has served me well.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber