Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 4, December, 2009

Hello and welcome to the fortieth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new.

OK, I’ll admit it: I put baking Christmas cookies and visiting family ahead of sending out this newsletter! We’re hoping that you made similar choices, and are enjoying a restful holiday. But if you’re not enjoying the holidays, link #15 below is dedicated to you. When you’re ready to think about your classes in the new year, take a peek at some of the links below.

As ever, please pass this newsletter on to interested colleagues and invite them to sign up for future issues. Remember, you can read old newsletters, comment on newsletters, view the current newsletter or you can even re-read what you missed in last month’s newsletter by checking out our new blog:  You can even receive Personality Pedagogy newsletters via an RSS (“Really Simple Syndication”) feed as soon as they are posted.

We wish a restful and renewing holiday season and all good things to you and yours in 2010!!


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino “at” arcadia “dot” edu

1. Psych Elves

Michael Britt, of the Psych Files Podcast, had the temerity to turn these three personality psychologists into Elves. Can you identify them?

2. Evolutionary Psychology: An Interview with David Buss (Part 1)

Psychology teacher Michael Britt created an episode for his podcast, The Psych Files, all about Evolutionary Psychology (Episode 111): Evolutionary Psychology – David Buss Responds to Critics. There has been a lot of criticism of evolutionary psychology lately. How do researchers respond? One of the leading researchers in this field – Dr. David Buss of the University of Texas – responds to these critics in part 1 of this 2-part episode. Find out how he responds to these questions: a) is evolutionary psychology sexist?, b) doesn’t evolutionary psychology just give people the ammunition they need to not take responsibility for themselves? c) theories from evolutionary psychology are not falsifiable, thus it’s not scientific and d) human society is always changing – it hasn’t been stable enough long enough for any human behavior to have evolved. (Originally released December 6, 2009).

3. Evolutionary Psychology: An Interview with David Buss (Part 2)

Psychology teacher Michael Britt created an episode for his podcast, The Psych Files, all about Evolutionary Psychology (Episode 112): David Buss Responds to Critics – Part 2. ”In part 2 of my interview with David Buss, he responds to more criticisms of evolutionary psychology. Here’s what we cover: a) does evolutionary psychology just give criminals another reason not to take responsibility for themselves?, b) is all the research in evolutionary psychology done on American college students?, c) are evolutionary psychology theories falsifiable? We cover such topics as whether women’s mating strategies change depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle? and How does evolutionary psychology might explain homosexuality? and what does evolutionary psychology say about cultural differences in the desire for women with a low waist-hip ratio?” (Originally released December 16, 2009).

4. Correlation and Causation

From the website: ”Looking for examples of correlation and causation? You’ve heard it a million times: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Still need help? Well, here’s a humorous look at this topic that I think drives home the point. The Psych Files “Breaking News” explores whether satisfied workers are more productive and whether living together causes divorce. I hope you enjoy this unique video episode of The Psych Files”. (Originally released November 16, 2009).

5. Narcissism Among Celebrities, on Facebook and in Shakespeare

From the website: ”Are celebrities really more narcissistic than you are? Is your Facebook page telling the world that you are a narcissist? And finally: who is Shakespeare’s most narcissistic character? I’ll give you a hint: the character can be found in Twelfth Night. So if you’re looking for more information about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or just everyday narcissism, as well as examples of famous narcissists, you’ll find it in this in this episode of The Psych Files”. (Originally released November 22, 2009).

6. Love and Envy Linked by the Same Hormone: Oxytocin

The hormone oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which affects behaviors such as trust, empathy and generosity, also affects opposite behaviors, such as jealousy and gloating. “Subsequent to these findings, we assume that the hormone is an overall trigger for social sentiments: when the person’s association is positive, oxytocin bolsters pro-social behaviors; when the association is negative, the hormone increases negative sentiments,” explains Simone Shamay-Tsoory at the University of Haifa. This summary, from ScienceDaily, November 13, 2009.

7. Males Have More Personality?

”Males have more pronounced personalities than females across a range of species — from humans to house sparrows — according to new research. [I]n most species males show more consistent, predictable behaviours, particularly in relation to parental care, aggression and risk-taking. Females, on the other hand, are more likely to vary their behaviour”, according to this summary from ScienceDaily, November 19, 2009.

8. The Introvert’s Corner: How to live a quiet life in a noisy world

Writer Sophia Dembling writes this blog filled with personal experiences, interviews with experts, and helpful suggestions about living as an introvert. Recent entries include: standing up for rights, surviving parties, friendships and more. Excellent way for extroverts to understand how the other half lives; good advice and insights for introverts.

9. Antidepressants Can Change Personalities

”Taking an antidepressant can lead to significant personality changes, likely for the better, a new study finds. The study looked at the effects of taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are widely used to treat depression today, and found that those who took these antidepressants experienced more positive emotions, were more outgoing and more emotionally stable in the long-term. “Our findings lead us to propose a new model of antidepressant mechanism,” said Tony Z. Tang of Northwestern University in Chicago. “Our data suggests that modern antidepressants work partly by correcting key personality risk factors of depression”” according to this summary in Live Science, December 7, 2009.

10. 7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You

These 7 thoughts, or ways of thinking such as cynicism, lack of meaning, anxiety, lack of self-control, etc., reflect our personalities, affect how we cope with everyday life, and may be bad for our health and well-being in the long run.

11. fMRI techniques: Validity and Reliability Questioned

New findings raise questions about reliability of fMRI as gauge of neural activity in this article by Laura Sanders from Science News, December 19th, 2009; Vol.176 #13 (p. 16).

12. Bowing to Body Clocks, N.B.A. Teams Sleep In

Three basketball teams, the Boston Celtics, the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers have dropped the traditional early morning shoot-around in favor of research on body clocks which suggests that a better night’s sleep will help players more than an additional practice the morning after a big game. By Howard Beck, New York Times, December 19, 2009. (Remember that access to articles in the New York Times is free but you need to register first by setting up an account).

13. Hourly Employees Happier Than Salaried

”People paid by the hour exhibit a stronger relationship between income and happiness”, according to a study published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB), summarized in this article from Medical News Today, December 14, 2009.

14. Physical Activity Reduces Disease-Related Fatigue And Depression By Increasing Self-Efficacy

”Researchers in the US studying people with chronic diseases found that physical activity may reduce depression and fatigue by increasing self-efficacy, or the belief that one can master physical goals and attain a sense of accomplishment from applying oneself” according to this summary in Medical News Today, December 16, 2009.

15. 9 Holiday Depression Busters

Time-tested ways to cope with the flurry of the holiday season. Brought to you by BeliefNet writer Therese J. Borchard.


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