Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 5, Number 9, May, 2011

Hello and welcome to the fifty-seventh Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,235 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

Happy unofficial start of summer!

Ah, is there anything as glorious as being curled up with a good book on a summer’s day? If you love summer reading (especially fiction) and already have a stack of titles awaiting your attention, you’ll be interested to know that what you always suspected is true: Reading fiction like ”Twilight” or ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for just 30 minutes can make people feel like they are part of an entirely different world. Researchers found that not only does this feel good, as any young Harry Potter fan can attest to, but it also changes us. Read all about it in our second link below. And dust off your library card, Kindle, or beloved old favorites from your shelves and get busy exploring new worlds . . . and yourself! But don’t stay up too late, as sleep deprivation has its own problems as you can read below.

As ever, please pass this newsletter on to interested colleagues and invite them to sign up for future issues and to visit the home of Personality Pedagogy: 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 bottom right.


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino ”at” arcadia ”dot” edu

1. The Personality Pedagogy Monthly Newsletter
Sign up here to receive this newsletter delivered to your e-mail inbox once a month! We promise never to share your information with anybody else or to use it for any other purpose than ”Personality Pedagogy”.

2. We Actually ‘Become’ Happy Vampires or Contented Wizards When Reading a Book
”[R]eading satisfies a deeply felt need for human connection because we not only feel like the characters we read about but, psychologically speaking, become part of their world and derive emotional benefits from the experience” according to research by Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young, published this month in ”Psychological Science” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, May 10, 2011.

3. Over 40 Playful Yet Practical Ways to Cultivate Creativity
Margarita Tartakovsky presents these ways to boost creativity to make you happier and more productive. From ”Psych Central”.

4. From the Beginning, the Brain Knows the Difference Between Night and Day
“The brain is apparently programmed from birth to develop the ability to determine sunrise and sunset, [according to] new research on circadian rhythms” by August Kampf-Lassin and Brian Prendergast and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, April 28, 2011.

5. Snooze Control: Fatigue, Air Traffic and Safety
Richard R. Bootzin presented his paper ”If Sleep is So Important, Why Do We Get So Little of It?” at the 23rd Annual APS Convention earlier this month. Read about his work inspired by some recent notable near-misses of aircraft due to fatigued air traffic controllers. The problem is not with individuals but with the recovery time between shifts for shift workers according to this summary from ”Science Daily”, April 25, 2011.

6. Peak Experiences: Big Moments
”Life can drone along at a hum for years—then break into a short but glorious chorus that changes us forever. It’s impossible to predict such peak experiences; in fact, that’s part of their charm. But it is possible to prepare for them” as Rebecca Webber explains in this article from ”Psychology Today,” September 01, 2010.

7. 10 Quick Stress Busters
Therese Borchard, editor at ”Psych Central”, has 10 tips for dealing with stress (e.g., simplify, prioritize, laugh, exercise, etc.). Borchard readily admits that she uses an average of 5 per day, and as much as all 10 on a truly bad day.

8. The Healing Power of Laughter
Theresa Borchard outlines the stress-busting and healing power of laughter in this essay from ”Psych Central”.

9. The Psychology of Cells
”New techniques are allowing researchers to measure how the environment affects gene expression, leading to some remarkable insights, including the finding that loneliness primes the immune system to turn on its inflammatory response — a risk factor for disease.” according to research summarized in this article by Beth Azar for the APA ”Monitor”, May 2011.

10. 7 Tips for Giving Effective Praise
Gretchen Rubin distills much of the research on praise to these 7 tips including be specific, be sincere, and more, in this article from ”Psych Central”.

11. Happiness Has A Dark Side
”It seems like everyone wants to be happier and the pursuit of happiness is one of the foundations of American life. But even happiness can have a dark side […] people who strive for happiness may end up worse off than when they started” according to research by June Gruber, Iris Mauss and Maya Tamir published this month in ”Perspectives on Psychological Science” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, May 17, 2011.

12. What Does Your Handshake Say About You?
While not exactly a window into the soul, handshakes do play an important part in generating a first impression. People can accurately judge a target’s extraversion and, for men only, conscientiousness, from a handshake. Given that consciousness is an effective predictor of success at work, both men and women may want to think about the impression their handshakes create, according to research by Frank Bernieri and Kristen Petty published this month in ”Social Influence” and summarized here in The British Psychological Society’s ”Research Digest”, May 13, 2011.

13. Why Extroverts are the Happiest People
”Extroverts are the cheeriest personality type, and a new study finds that the root of their happiness may be in their memories. People who are extroverted remember the past in a more positive light than other personality types” according to new research by Ryan Howell, as summarized in this article from ”Life Science”, May 3, 2011.

14. Psychologists Discover We’ve Been Underestimating the Unconscious Mind
Neurologists and cognitive psychologists once believed that we need awareness for integration of stimuli into a coherent whole. However, ”integration can happen even when we’re unaware of the stimulus […] Unconscious processes are much more sophisticated and deeper than was previously believed” according to research by Liad Mudrik, Dominique Lamy, Assaf Breska, and Leon Y. Deouell published in ”Psychological Science” and summarized here in ”Medical Xpress”, May 12, 2011.

15. I Control Therefore I am: Chimps Self-Aware
”Chimpanzees are self-aware and can anticipate the impact of their actions on the environment around them, an ability once thought to be uniquely human” according to research by Takaaki Kaneko and Masaki Tomonaga and summarized here in PhysOrg.Com, May 4, 2011.

16. Think It’s Easy to Be Macho? Psychologists Show How ‘Precarious’ Manhood Is
”Manhood is a “precarious” status — difficult to earn and easy to lose. And when it’s threatened, men see aggression as a good way to hold onto it” according to research by Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello, published in ”Current Directions in Psychological Science”, and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, May 3, 2011.

17. When Self-Esteem Is Threatened, People Pay With Credit Cards
”People shop for high status items when they’re feeling low, and they’re more likely to make those expensive purchases on credit”, according to a study in ”Social Psychological and Personality Science” by Niro Sivanathan and Nathan Pettit and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, May 6, 2011.

18. Scientists Find Genetic Link to Depression
”Scientists say they have discovered the first solid evidence that variations in some peoples’ genes may cause depression […] And in a rare occurrence in genetic research, a British-led international team’s finding of a DNA region linked to depression has been replicated by another team from the United States who were studying an entirely separate group of people,” ”Reuters”, May 16, 2011.

19. Happiness Gene Located
”A gene which regulates the movement of serotonin in the brain has been labeled the “happiness gene” by researchers from the London School of Economics and reported in the ”Journal of Human Genetics”. This is the first study to demonstrate a direct link between an individual’s happiness and a specific genetic condition” according to research by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and summarized here in ”Medical News Today”, May 7, 2011.

20. Song Lyrics Suggest Narcissism Is On the Rise
Nathan DeWall and his colleagues ”analyzed the lyrics of songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from 1980 to 2007. They found a statistically significant trend toward narcissism in the music, with the words “I” and “me” gradually replacing “we” and “us.”” Read about his work in this article from ”Life Science”, April 26, 2011.

21. Activity: The Soundtrack of Your Life
Describes an activity where students identify eight major events in their lives (e.g., deaths, first car, entering high school, etc.) and find songs (music and lyrics) to correspond to these events, designing an imaginary soundtrack of their lives. Students write about the experience, submit their compilations, and/or present a song to the class with an explanation of its import. Originally designed to be a writing assignment, with some additional guidance this activity can be used to illustrate narrative psychology, the self, Erikson’s stages, and other theories of personality psychology.

22. Favorite Link Revisited: Review Fun: Grab That Spoon!
Educator and simulation game guru Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan maintains a web site with tons of ideas to get participants involved and playing with ideas. Grab That Spoon! is a quick, five-minute game with a dash of friendly competition. It’s a game in which everyone participates regardless of the size of the group (5 or 500, it still works!). It’s a game that allows the learners to generate the review information, to participate in it, and to discuss their own understanding of the material learned. In other words, it’s a game in which the participants learn a lot in a little time!


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