Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 10, June, 2010


Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 10, June, 2010

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

A special THANK YOU goes out this month to loyal reader Bob Reeves at Augusta State University for sending us the links to the BBC series ”Century of the Self” produced a few years ago. The series, especially the first two parts, highlights Freud’s influence. (If the links below do not work at first, try re-loading them). Remember, if you’ve found a useful website for teaching personality by all means send it to us for inclusion on Personality Pedagogy. We love hearing from our readers!

This month we feature three links related to the topic of personality stability, change, and coherence over the lifespan featuring The Grant Study of Harvard Men. The first link is to an article from the Atlantic Monthly which we told you about last year. The second two links are to a video interview with George Vaillant, former director of the project. The third link is to interviews with two of the participants, now in their 80s. Their reflections, in conjunction with what was written about their early lives in Vaillant’s classic ”Adaptation to Life” would make an interesting case study for the topic of personality across the lifespan.

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 at and you can even receive Personality Pedagogy newsletters via an RSS (”Really Simple Syndication”) feed as soon as they are posted, by clicking on the ”RSS-posts” button on the top right.


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino ”at” arcadia ”dot” edu

1. What makes us happy?

What Makes Us Happy? Joshua Wolf Shenk writes: ”Is there a formula-some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.” From The Atlantic Magazine, June 2009.

2. George Vaillant Video

George Vaillant, of the Grant Study of Harvard graduates, describes his insights from the study in this video supplement to the ”Atlantic Monthly” article on Vaillant, the Grant study, and the pursuit of happiness. His conclusion: Growing old is not as scary as we thought when we were younger (runs 6 minutes, 51 seconds).

3. Case Studies: Two Men from the Grant Study

Former ”Washington Post” editor Ben Bradlee and historian Donald Cole reflect on their lives, careers, and experiences as participants in the Grant Study. (Ben Bradlee was known as ”Frederick” in Vaillant’s book ”Adaptation to Life”).

4. The Culture of Narcissism

”The New York Times” writer Ross Douthat reflects on a recent finding reported at the June 2010 APS conference which found that college students have become less empathetic since 2000. Is this the demise of community service or is a bit of ”Look out world, here I come” mentality necessary to change the world? From June 2, 2010. (Remember that you will need a free subscription to ”The New York Times” to read their online content).

5. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Dan Pink, author of books about the changing world of work, gave a talk on motivation at a recent convention of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In this video, he presents a condensed version of his talk while an artist draws amazing graphics to illustrate his ideas. The result is a stunning tour-de-force summary of about a dozen or so psychological studies on what motivates us (runs 10 minutes, 48 seconds).

6. Testing and Assessment: Finding Information about Psychological Tests

From the website: ”The APA Science Directorate answers hundreds of calls and emails each year from persons trying to locate the right test or find more information about psychological tests. APA neither sells nor endorses testing instruments, but it does provide guidance in using available resources to find psychological tests. Answers to frequently asked questions are provided here.” Includes information about published psychological tests, unpublished psychological tests and measures, and responsibilities of test users.

7. Positive Psychology: 7-day unit plan for high school psychology

Amy C. Fineburg, Homewood High School, Birmingham, Alabama, created this document for Teaching of Psychology in the Secondary Schools. Includes critical thinking activities (daily mood, satisfaction with life scale, creating flow experiences, measuring optimism, the hope scale and much more) interspersed with lesson plans for the high school psychology course. Members of APA can log in to the APA website to find the full report (in PDF format) here.

8. Displaced Gulf Oil Workers: Learned Helplessness, Stress, and Depression

Michael Britt, of The Psych Files, found and annotated this article from the New York Times, June 16, 2010, on how the oil spill in the Gulf is taking a toll on the psyches of the workers.

9. Century of the Self

”Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty, [including] Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.” The series consists of 4 parts, each about 1 hour long:

a) Episode One: Happiness Machines (runs 58 minutes, 16 seconds)

b) Episode Two: The Engineering of Consent (runs 58 minutes, 37 seconds)

c) Episode Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Head: He Must Be Destroyed (runs 58 minutes, 34 seconds)

d) Episode Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering (runs 59 minutes)


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