Dr. Wind Goodfriend Uses Own Book for First Time



Ella Wiebusch, News Editor

At Buena Vista University (BVU), a variety of tools are used to enhance learning. The quality of students’ experiences is heightened by the dedication and passion of the institution’s professors. For Dr. Wind Goodfriend, professor of psychology and assistant dean of the graduate program, one such tool has taken six years to create. But for Goodfriend, writing isn’t something she shies away from. In fact, she embraces it. 

Goodfriend reflects on her childhood, recalling that she was weird, made strange noises, had unusual facial expressions and thoughts, and was very lonely and confused about social interactions. Her escape? Reading books. 

“I fell in love with books because they were a window of insight into how other people thought and talked to each other,” said Goodfriend. “That time in my life inspired me to both love psychology [as a study of people] and to love books, so my dream has always been to write psychology books.” 

Years later her text Social Psychology, co-authored alongside Tom Heinzen, has worked its way into the hands of BVU students taking a class with the same name. This is a general education class for social sciences and can be taken by anyone – there are no pre-requisites. The class counts as either a psychology course or as a sociology course. 

Throughout the course, students will journey through a plethora of topics: Our concept of the “self,” group dynamics and leadership, how we can persuade others, group conformity, stereotypes and prejudice, aggression, altruism, attraction, and intimate relationships. 

“I hope that students actually look forward to reading the next chapter—or at least don’t fall asleep with boredom! One of my goals is that the textbook is so interesting that students can immediately apply the material to their own lives and see how social psychology influences their everyday thoughts and behaviors,” said Goodfriend.  

Some people might be surprised that even though her doctorate is in social psychology and she’s been teaching at BVU for 13 years, Goodfriend has never gotten to teach the social psychology course before, so the course this year is completely new! One of the aspects of the course she is most excited about is the emphasis on critical thinking.  

“For each chapter, students choose from the critical thinking questions that are already in the book and write response essays. The students can choose from several questions, so they get to pick questions that most interest them,” said Goodfriend. “At the end of the semester, I’m asking the students to generate their own, original critical thinking questions as well.” 

This is the first semester anyone in the world has used the book, including Goodfriend.  

“I’m both nervous and excited to see how students respond to it and whether they think it’s helpful and engaging. I wanted to write a book that students actually enjoy reading, which is a challenge for a textbook. So far I haven’t gotten any direct feedback from the students, but I welcome their thoughts on how I can improve it for the second edition.” 

Before writing her most recent book, Goodfriend had to become an expert in a wide range of topics. While she knew a lot about her own specific areas of research (like gender stereotypes, sexuality, and relationship violence), for the book she had to learn about research for every single chapter. As a result, her social psychology knowledge has become much deeper and richer.  

“I also think writing the book forced me to analyze how I approach explaining every single topic, so my teaching has become much more explicit, planned, and purposeful,” said Goodfriend. “Writing this book has definitely improved my teaching, both in this class and, I hope, in all of my classes.” 

Besides her newest work, Goodfriend has published a book called “Voices of Hope: Breaking the Silence of Relationship Violence,” co-authored with her friend Pamela Cathey. She has edited two books about psychology in the HBO show, “Westworld,” written several research articles, and about a dozen book chapters on psychology in pop culture. When the “Social Psychology” book came out last January, the company also published a second book that is an optional “companion” textbook. It’s called “Case Studies in Social Psychology” and provides nonfictional examples of real people or examples of the concepts in the main book.  

For Goodfriend, completing the book has been nothing if not rewarding. 

“I remember how happy I was when I physically touched the first printed copy of the book—it was so exciting! The cover was all shiny, and it had my name on it. It was really a dream come true. And now I hope that my students are enjoying reading it!” 

This year Goodfriend is already working on a third textbook that will be published in a few years, one that’s for upper-level psychology students called “Intimate Relationships.” She hopes that all of the lessons she learned by writing “Social Psychology” can be applied to the new book, and that students enjoy both equally.  

“It’s both exciting and humbling to use my own book in class. I want students to love it, but I also want them to be comfortable in telling me when the book is confusing or boring,” said Goodfriend. “That’s the only way I can really improve. It’s really hard and exhausting to write a textbook, but so far the rewards have made it all worthwhile.” 

Copies of the book can be found in the BVU Bookstore, and online through a variety of vendors, including Amazon.