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Edited by M J Apter. Washington: American Psychological Association, 2001, £33.95, pp 373; ISBN 1-55798-739-4.
I feel that this book is targeted towards academics, researchers, and people interested in motivation psychology generally, particularly reversal theory. As outlined in the preface and introductory chapter, reversal theory is a broad psychological theory which has received little attention from mainstream psychology. It specifically explores motivation, emotion, and personality.
The book is clearly a comprehensive overview of the research and application of reversal theory to date. To ensure this, the editor, Michael Apter, who is himself an expert in reversal theory and the most significant contributor to the work, appears to have drawn upon the expertise of the people most interested in the theory so far.
The content includes an introduction to the theory and field, with an outline of the empirical research that has so far been conducted. This is a detailed description of the theory, with the consequence that it is certainly not light reading; however, this attention to detail is required for the uninitiated to grasp the terminology developed which describes the basics of the theory.
The sections entitled “Research applications” and “Practical applications” are probably of most relevance and interest to those not fully engrossed in the theory development. These sections include the application of reversal theory to a range of behaviours including smoking, sport, addiction, stress, organisations, and counselling. Although at times the theory provides a refreshing perspective on these areas, it tends to be somewhat too theoretical and limited in outlining how to use the theory in these areas.
Considering the relatively young age of reversal theory, which had its origins in the early 1970s, it is possible that applications will be developed further over time. Indeed, future issues are discussed at the conclusion of the book.
In summary, this outline and review of reversal theory to date would be of most interest to psychology academics. The structure and outline of the book is good, but the terminology and theoretical emphasis make it slow going at times.
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