Nye (1996)

Nye's (1996) textbook is a useful introduction to the theories of Freud, Skinner, and Rogers, representing the three "waves" of personality psychology, psychoanalysis, radical behaviorism, and humanistic phenomenology, respectively. This book is short--in 150 pages, the three theories are covered succinctly yet thoroughly. This book compares favorably with Stevenson's (1987) book, of comparable length but slightly different focus.

A book as short as this is best used as a supplement to other readings in personality, whether textbook or primarly literature. Indeed, the prospect of allowing students to overlearn these theories, and to see them presented in different ways, is what makes this book so valuable.

The major problem with Nye's (1996) book is a problem with theory-oriented textbooks in general: where's the research? Another problem, also endemic to theory-oriented textbooks, is why do these theories merit the space (even if short) allotted to them? My answer to the latter question is that these theories are historically prominent, and are also the kind of thing students often want to learn about in a course on personality. However, only Skinner's behaviorism, in my opinion, has a strong claim to being good science, and even still Skinner (1986) characterizes behaviorism as "the philosophy of a science" (p. 716).


Nye, R. D. (1996). Three psychologies: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Skinner, B. F. (1986). Is it behaviorism? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 9, 716.

Stevenson, L. (1987). Seven theories of human nature. New York: Oxford University Press.

Last modified April 2001
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