Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 5, January, 2010


Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 5, January, 2010

Hello and welcome to the forty-first Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at

Happy New Year! Happy New Semester!

We just found a fascinating article in this month’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. E. J. Horberg and Serena Chen, at the University of California, Berkeley, tested the concept of relationship-specific self-worth. This concept is related to both the contingencies of self-worth literature and to the classic notion of conditional positive regard from Carl Rogers. Across three studies, Horberg and Chen found evidence that people can feel good or bad about themselves based on their performance in an area in which a significant other wants them to do well in. This article is the first (that we know of, anyway) to provide evidence for the fascinating dynamic of conditional and unconditional positive regard.

Alas, I was unable to find a summary or press release to link to on Personality Pedagogy, but perhaps you can find the full article through your library:

Horger, E. J. & Chen, S. (2010). Significant Others and Contingencies of Self-Worth: Activation and Consequences of Relationship-Specific Contingencies of Self-Worth. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98 (1), 77–91

Did you happen to catch the new PBS series which premiered this month called This Emotional Life? We’re still talking about it around here. Daniel Gilbert explores what makes us happy, including relationships, positive and negative emotions, and universal traits of happiness. Check out the website (below) where you can see more about the people and stories featured on the series, learn more about the topics mentioned, find information about resources and support organizations, and purchase a DVD (if you didn’t manage to record this for yourself). The section on attachment theory was particularly well done and featured videos of the original Harlow monkey studies. In addition to the parts on attachment, happiness, resilience, and emotions, which are directly relevant to a personality class, other parts of the series relate to abnormal, social, and intro psychology classes.

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.


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino “at” arcadia “dot” edu

1. Why and How to Write APA-Style Citations
The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) is pleased to
announce the following new resource: ”Why and How to Write APA-Style Citations in the Body and Reference Section of Your Papers (2010)” by
Drew C. Appleby (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis). This
resource is a 35-slide packet (in Microsoft PowerPoint®) that instructors can use to lecture about writing APA-style citations, following guidelines of the 6th edition of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. In addition, a short file for the instructor provides suggestions for how to use the slides in classes.

2. A Template Paper with Comments for Illustrating the 6th Edition of APA Style (2010)
The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) is pleased to
announce the following new resource: ”This resource uses a 14-page undergraduate research paper to illustrate many features of the 6th edition of APA style by presenting the paper as a sample for students to emulate. Extensive comments in the margin call attention to the feature being highlighted. The sample paper has more extensive explanations of APA style than the sample papers in the APA Publication Manual and by not overlapping pages, users can read the entire paper’s content”. Written by Jordan Buess and Rick Froman of John Brown University.

3. Few Gender Differences in Math Abilities, Worldwide Study Finds
”Girls around the world are not worse at math than boys, even though boys are more confident in their math abilities, and girls from countries where gender equity is more prevalent are more likely to perform better on mathematics assessment tests”, according to a new meta-analysis of international research by Nicole Else-Quest, summarized here, and published in the January 2010 edition of the “Psychological Bulletin”. From “ScienceDaily,” January 6, 2010.

4. This Emotional Life
From the website: ”A three-part series that explores improving our social relationships, learning to cope with depression and anxiety, and becoming more positive, resilient individuals. Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of ”Stumbling on Happiness”, Professor Daniel Gilbert, talks with experts about the latest science on what makes us ”tick” and how we can find support for the emotional issues we all face. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research along with revealing comments from celebrities like Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Richard Gere. The first episode, ”Family, Friends & Lovers”, looks at the importance of relationships and why they are central to our emotional well-being” (including an excellent overview of and current research on Attachment theory). ”In the second episode, ”Facing Our Fears”, we look at emotions that are commonly regarded as obstacles to happiness — such as anger, fear, anxiety, and despair” (includes a discussion of Anger, Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Stress and Anxiety). ”The last episode, ”Rethinking Happiness”, explores happiness. It is so critical to our well-being, and, yet, it remains such an elusive goal for many of us”
(includes Creativity and Flow, Forgiveness, Happiness, Humor, Meditation, Resilience).

5. Life History Manuscripts from the Folklore Project, WPA Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1940
From the website: ”These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant’s family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts.”

6. Carl Rogers: Overview
Overview of Roger’s theories including a discussion of the 3 essential conditions for a therapeutic relationship and the 10 questions therapists should ask themselves to assure that they are creating a truly helping relationship.

7. Carl Rogers: On Education
From the website: ”Best known for his contribution to client-centered therapy and his role in the development of counseling, Rogers also had much to say about education and group work.”

8. Behavior: Skinner’s Utopia: Panacea, or Path to Hell?
To mark the release of Skinner’s book ”Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, ”Time” magazine presented this overview of Skinner’s life and theory, his controversial book, and what it means for modern society. While some of the references are dated (e.g. President Nixon), the questions raised by both Skinner and his opponents are as relevant as ever for our time. Originally published Monday, Sep. 20, 1971.

9. Skinner’s Teaching Machine of the Future
Skinner himself explains why ”studdying by way of a teaching machine is often dramatically effective” in this classic black and white film clip. (runs 4 minutes, 19 seconds; contains Spanish subtitles)

10. Skinner on Reinforcement
An in-depth view of how Skinner trained pigeons to read in this classic film clip. Includes a discussion of schedules of reinforcement, gambling, and his controversial views on free will (runs 3 minutes, 58 seconds).

11. Common Cognitive Distortions
John M. Grohol explains ”What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.” Briefly describes 15 common cognitive distortions including overgeneralizations, jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, and more.

12. Fixing Cognitive Distortions
John M. Grohol explains, ”Cognitive distortions have a way of playing havoc with our lives. If we let them. This kind of ”stinkin’ thinkin”’ can be ”undone,” but it takes effort and lots of practice — every day.” The 8 exercises described here will help readers identify and reverse cognitive errors including thinking in black and white, unrealistic beliefs, and overgeneralizations.


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