The Psychology of Language: From data to theory


I know this text is successful, because it’s in its foourth edition (2014), following the first edition in 1995, second in 2001, and third in 2008. It’s published by Psychology Press, who host a website for the book at Here you will find information about the book, and teaching support materials. The book has been translated into Spanish and Greek.

I’m proud of this book. It’s an enormous undertaking, and producing each edition dominates years of my life. Psycholinguistics is though a hard subject, and I accept that some students find parts of it hard going. That’s one reason why I write Talking the talk: Language, psychology and science, a much more approachable introduction to psycholinguistics. I obviously think the subject is one of the most rewarding parts of psychology, and it’s well worth putting in the effort. Prospective buyers should not confuse it with my Series of readings in the psychology of language - one clue is the price!

Inevitably in a work this size mistakes can creep in. I and some eagle-eyed readers have found a few - so far thankfully nothing serious. There is a list of corrections at this page for a list of errata for the 4th edition.

If you spot anything, or just have a suggestion, please feel free to email me at

Buy it from Amazon UK


From my publisher’s site

The Psychology of Language, 3rd Edition is a thorough revision and update of the popular second edition. It contains everything the student needs to know about the psychology of language: how we understand, produce, and store language. This new edition contains new chapters on how children learn to read, and how language is used in everyday settings. It also describes recent research on the impact of new techniques of brain imaging.

The text is comprehensive and written in a lively and accessible style. It covers all the main topics in this complex field, focusing on the processes involved in understanding and producing language, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The text covers recent connectionist models of language, describing complex ideas in a clear and approachable manner. Following a strong developmental theme, the text describes how children acquire language (sometimes more than one), and also how they learn to read. The Psychology of Language demonstrates how language is related to the brain and to other aspects of cognition.

For the first time, a CD-ROM of supplementary materials is available to qualified adopters to accompany the textbook, which will include:

  1. chapter-by-chapter lecture slides

  2. an interactive chapter-by-chapter multiple-choice question test bank

  3. multiple-choice questions in paper and pen format.

The Psychology of Language assumes no prior knowledge other than a grounding in the basic concepts of cognitive psychology. It provides a comprehensive overview of psycholinguistics, covering all major topics including adult and child language and speech production as well as comprehension in a lucid and student-friendly style. This third edition of this best-selling textbook will be essential reading for any student studying cognition, psycholinguistics or the psychology of language. It will also be useful for those on speech and language therapy courses.


"I want this book for me, not just for my students. For the student, it's an exceptionally thorough, but lively, introduction to language use in a wider context. For me, it's a valuable reminder of psycholinguistics's evolution from its concerns with the psychological reality of grammar, to its current spot at the center of modern cognitive neuroscience." Gary S. Dell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Trevor Harley provides a systematic and lucid introduction to the scientific study of human language use. He traverses a complex range of topics from foundational theory and experiment to practical matters of pedagogy and pathology. It's a winning combination delivered with wit, balanced accuracy, and admirable directness of style." Professor Merrill Garrett, Psychology Department, University of Arizona

"Harley s book offers an excellent means of enhancing our understanding of language. It provides a clear, comprehensive and thorough review of the current state of play in psycholinguistics, making it an ideal choice for advanced undergraduate and graduate students." Annukka Lindell, University of Wales, Bangor

"Harley has thoroughly revised his very successful textbook on psycholinguistics in light of new research. The coverage of this work is quite remarkable and it constitutes the ideal resource for advanced undergraduate students, postgraduate students and researchers interested in the field."  Martin Pickering, University of Edinburgh

"I have been using Harley's text in my 3rd year undergraduate "Psychology of Language" course since the first edition came out because I believe its coverage of the important issues is comprehensive and scholarly while being highly accessible and intellectually stimulating. My students have always found it to be a very useful resource in helping them understand language processing." Marcus Taft, University of New South Wales