Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 8, April, 2010


Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 8, April, 2010

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

Have you done your spring cleaning yet? Here at Personality Pedagogy, we’ve been doing some cleaning up of our own. This month we have (finally!) posted some interesting links that we’ve been meaning to get to, on all sorts of topics from Narrative Psychology to Neuroscience to Viktor Frankl to Barbie (!). We even found some new links to personality tests to feed what may already be the largest collection of links to legitimate personality tests on the internet! All in all, this is our biggest issue this year.

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 re-read what you missed in last month’s newsletter by checking out our 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. How to Interpret Brain Imaging Studies

The Neuroethics Learning Collaborative, of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, created this video on Brain Imaging: Reality and Hype. Jeff Aguirre presents this talk on the basics of neuroimaging, focusing on how scientists go from tracking neural activity to making an inference about human behavior. Describes how PET scans and fMRIs work, and how to interpret results from fMRI studies. The talk was given on March 2, 2010 and runs 47 minutes and 10 seconds.

2. The Voodoo Debate

On the heels of the famous Ed Vul, Nancy Kanwisher and Hal Pashler paper ”Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience,” Matt Lieberman and Piotr Winkielman continued the debate at the annual meeting of the Society of Experimental Social Psychologists (SESP) in 2009. The first link is to the video of their debate; this link to background information about the original paper which started the controversy.

3. Viktor Frankl

Article from the ”MacMillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying” by James W. Ellor (2003) on the life and work of Viktor Frankl.

4. Viktor Frankl ”Man Alive” (1977)

Frankl discusses his theories and his message of hope as an antidote to the problem of meaninglessness in this two-part interview from the 1977 TV program ”Man Alive” in Part 1 (4:28) and Part 2 (4:23).

5. Barbie says: ”Math class is tough”

This video presents the original 1992 Teen Talk Barbie saying the controversial phrase ”Math class is tough”. The company later dropped the phrase and apologized after criticism from the American Association of University Women in its report on how schools shortchange girls. This link is to the original story in The New York Times, October 21, 1992.

6. Gender and Race Equity in Math, Science, and Technology

Patricia B. Campbell, of Campbell-Kibler Associates, does research and evaluation to increase gender and race equity in math, science, and technology education. She has turned her findings into user-friendly reports, brochures, and pamphlets available on their site to view, download, print, and share with parents, educators, and children. Topics include Myths, Stereotypes, and Gender Differences; No Virginia, There is No Math Gene; Making It Happen: Pizza Parties, Chemistry Goddesses and Other Strategies that Work for Girls and Others; and much, much more.

7. The Snyder (1974) Self-Monitoring Scale

Mark A. Whatley, Valdosta State University, has posted selected personality tests for his Self and Identiy class. About the Self-Monitoring Scale he says: ”Developed by Mark Synder (1974), the Self-Monitoring (SM) Scale measures the extent to which you consciously employ impression management strategies in social interactions. Basically, the scale assesses the degree to which you manipulate the nonverbal signals that you send to others and the degree to which you adjust your behavior to situational demands. Some people work harder at managing their public images than do others. ” Scale and scoring instructions available here.

8. Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ; 1978)

Mark A. Whatley, Valdosta State University, has posted selected personality tests for his Self and Identiy class. About the Personal Attributes Questionnaire he says: ”Devised by Janet Spence and Robert Helmreich (1978), the PAQ assesses masculinity and femininity in terms of respondents’ self-perceived possession of various traits that are stereotypically believed to differentiate the sexes. The authors emphasize that the PAQ taps on limited aspects of sex roles: certain self-assertive or instrumental traits traditionally associated with masculinity and certain interpersonal or expressive traits traditionally associated with femininity. Although the PAQ should not be viewed as a global measure of masculinity and femininity, it has been widely used in research to provide a rough classification of participants in terms of their gender-role identity.” Scale and scoring instructions available here.

9. Self-Handicapping Scale

Mark A. Whatley, Valdosta State University, has posted selected personality tests for his Self and Identiy class. About the Self-Handicapping Scale he says: ”Self-handicapping refers to people’s engagement in behaviors that hinder performance in an effort to provide an excuse if they fail. Rhodewalt, Saltzman, & Wittmer (1984) have used this scale to effectively predict the performance of competitive athletes. You and others should find the responses to the items on this scale interesting. Question 4 on the scale must be reverse scored. Higher scores indicate greater self-handicapping. High self-handicappers compared to low self-handicappers are likely to engage in activities that protect themselves from an attribution that they are failures. If they do fail, then they can attribute their failure to the situation and not to their ability. ” Scale and scoring instructions available here.

10. Psychological Tests for Student Use

Ron Okada, York University, Toronto, maintains this handy page for his students conducting research. It contains scales and scoring instructions for many tests relevant for both social and personality psychology. The tests are available in PDF or Word 2002 formats for the downloading. Tests available include the Attitude Towards Women Scale, Authoritarianism-Rebellion Scale, Body Esteem, Loneliness Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Personal Attributes Questionnaire, Procrastination Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Aggression Questionnaire, Trust Scale and much more.

11. Evolution: What Does it Mean to Be Human?

This web page provides background information for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s exhibit ”What Does it Mean to Be Human?” Describes ongoing research projects and evidence on the evolution of human behavior and physical characteristics. The site features a 3D interactive image library of fossils and artifacts, interactive walk-through of the exhibit, and resources for educators including lesson plans for 6-12 on human evolution, genetics, and more.

12. 10 Steps to Conquer Perfectionism

”Here are 10 techniques I use to break out of the prison of perfectionism in order to live and create as freely as I can in an imperfect world” according Therese Borchard, for PsychCentral.

13. Mating Strategies Not Universal

Summarizes the results of a cross-cultural study which found ”that men and women in monogamous societies, such as Pitcairn Islanders, and some polygynous societies, including the Aka in the Central African Republic, have overlapping ranges of number of offspring.” This finding suggests that there is greater variation in reproductive strategies than was once thought, so the tendency for men to be promiscuous and for females to be selective may not be universal. From Science News, May 23, 2009.

14. Genetic Risk for Anxiety Does Not Have to Be Destiny

Gene-by-environment interactions that place some people at risk for depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse may not be the whole story. Monkeys with a gene which puts them at risk for aggression and anxiety were raised either in small or large group cages. While the monkeys raised in small groups were more likely to be aggressive and anxious, monkeys reared in large, social cages were protected from developing these problems. From ”Science Daily”, May 3, 2009.

15. Meditation May Increase Gray Matter

”Certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group. Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus — all regions known for regulating emotions”. From ”Science Daily”, May 13, 2009

16. What’s Your Story? The Psychological Science of Life History Research

Jesse Bering describes life history research in which ”how we “spin” our self-narratives can reveal our hidden personalities” in this essay for ”Scientific American”, May 5, 2009.

17. Don’t!

Describes the classic work of Walter Mischel on delay of gratification research, including interviews with the now grown-up participants of the original marshmallow studies. ”Children who are able to pass the marshmallow test enjoy greater success as adults.” ”The New Yorker”, May 18, 2009, by Jonah Lehrer.


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