Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 2, October, 2011

Hello and welcome to the sixty-second Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,322 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month we have a record number of links to share with you, everything from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Magic Mushrooms, with Jeopardy, comedians, laughter, narcissism, the upside of pessimism, and the very first mention of Sigmund Freud in ”The New York Times” in between.

Know somebody high in Neuroticism? This month we are pleased to bring you a rare upside to this trait: People high in Neuroticism tend to lose themselves in movies more than people low in Neuroticism. This means that they experience movies more richly, including both the positive emotions of happy and uplifting movies and the negative emotions of sad and scary movies.

While we’re on the topic of Neuroticism, while you may think of Woody Allen or Richard Lewis when it comes to neurotic comedians, it turns out that comedians are not higher in Neuroticism than non-comedians. They are, however, lower in Agreeableness and higher in Openness.

Speaking of Openness, people who have taken hallucinogenic mushrooms (!) do indeed experience more Openness. This bit of folk wisdom left over from the 1960s now has scientific backing. Further, this change in Openness may last up to a year later. Not that we’re advocating hallucinogens, but this study is sure to spark discussion in your classes about the ethics of research, how experience can change personality, and the consistency of personality over time.

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 RSS 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. Self-Promotion: Why Arnold’s Self-Statue Is Very Serious. Really.

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a larger-than-life bronze statue of himself in his body-building days as part of a museum dedicated to Schwarzenegger in his hometown of Thal, Austria. Is this an example of egoism or merely the latest example of self-promotion harkening back to the ancients? From ”LiveScience”, October 2, 2011, by Stephanie Pappas.

3. Life’s Extremes: Early Bird vs. Night Owls

A good overview of circadian rhythm and the chronotypes of morning larks and night owls including genetic influences and sleep-phase disorders. From ”LiveScience”, October 2, 2011, by Adam Hadhazy.

4. Magic Mushrooms May Permanently Alter Personality

Even just one dose of hallucinogenic mushrooms can alter a person’s level of Openness for more than a year according to research by Katherine MacLean and colleagues as summarized in ”LiveScience”, September 29, 2011 by Stephanie Pappas.

5. Neurotics Experience More Immersion When Watching Films

People who score high in Neuroticism tend to feel more absorbed in films, both enjoying comedies more and horror and sad films less than people lower in Neuroticism. This, according to research by David Weibel and colleagues published this month in ”Personality and Individual Differences” and summarized here.

6. Neuroticism Influences Brain Activity During Anticipation and Experience of Pain

Neuroticism ”significantly affects brain processing during pain, as well as during the anticipation of pain”, according to a new study in ”Gastroenterology” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily”, September 20, 2011.

7. Pessimism — It Could Save Your Mind

Summarizes research by O’Mara, McNulty, and Karney (2011) in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” which found that optimism led to increased mental health when participants were faced with less stressful situations, but that pessimism was more adaptive in the face of highly stressful situations. From ”Brain Blogger”, October 11, 2011 by Radhika Takru.

8. First Mention: Sigmund Freud, 1909

From the website: ”Sigmund Freud visited the United States only once, in 1909, to give a series of lectures. ”The New York Times” found nothing about the visit worth mentioning except his departure. ”Prof. Sigmund Freud” appears on Page 9 on Sept. 21, along with ”Dr. C. G. Jung,” in a list of passengers sailing to Bremen, Germany, aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse. It was the first time the newspaper mentioned his name […] A search of The Times database from the early 1920s until Freud’s death yields nearly 300 references to him and almost 1,000 to psychoanalysis. ”

9. How Not to Spot Personality Test Fakers

Can response times reveal test fakers? Maybe not. This notion was tested in research by Mindy Shoss and Michael Strube and summarized here in ”Research Digest”, September 14, 2011.

10. US Views on Gays, Lesbians, Shift Sharply

According to the 2010 update of the General Social Survey (GSS) at NORC at the University of Chicago, not only do a plurality of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, but they overwhelmingly support freedom of expression and basic civil liberties for gays and lesbians. This article summarizes these findings and includes two graphs which illustrate this trend toward increased tolerance over time.

11. Gender Non-Conformity in a Tide Ad

This ad depicts a mom who is exasperated at her daughter’s non-conformity with gender roles. While the mom tries to be supportive of her daughter’s non-traditional efforts, her obvious discomfort illustrates that gendered expectations for behavior still run strong.

12. It’s Ok to Be Neither: Teaching That Supports Gender-Variant Children

Melissa Bollow Tempel discusses her realization that just as gender training begins early, teaching about gender expectations and breaking down gender stereotypes should begin early as well. In this article Tempel describes how she changed her classroom to be more supportive of gender variance.

13.How to Get the Most Out of Studying

Stephen Chew, Samford University, created this series of 5 videos to help students. Grounded in his own research on using cognitive principles to improve teaching and learning, Chew presents basic principles of how people learn and tries to correct counterproductive beliefs so that students can improve their learning by designing their own effective study strategies and avoiding ineffective strategies.

14. Psychologists Discover A Gene’s Link to Optimism, Self-Esteem

According to research by Shelley E. Taylor and colleagues, and summarized here, researchers have identified a gene linked to optimism, self-esteem, and mastery. From ”Science Daily”, September 14, 2011.

15. Why We Dream

The BBC produced this video documentary on dreams: ”People who study dreaming to find out why we dream have found several potential answers: they help keep us asleep, they contribute to good mental health, and they help us find answers to questions we seek. But what do they mean, and can we control them? This excellent documentary interviews scientists, dreamers, and people with sleep and dream disorders to find out more about this always fascinating subject.” (Runs 58 minutes and 24 seconds).

16.Life’s Extremes: Outgoing vs. Shy

Summarizes research on early temperaments related to extraversion,  introversion, and shyness. Includes an excellent graphic summarizing these differences. From ”LifeScience”, September 25, 2011.

17. What’s On Your Genes?

Written for kids, this overview of genetics nonetheless does an excellent job of explaining Mendellian inheritance and epigenetics.

18. Goodness Has Nothing to Do With It

This article from ”The Economist” summarizes research by Daniel Bartels and David Pizzaro which suggests that people with a utilitarian outlook tend to be Machiavellian or psychopathic.

19. It’s All About Autonomy: Consumers React Negatively When Prompted to Think About Money

From the webpage: ”Whether they are aware of it or not, consumers dislike being reminded of money — so much that they will rebel against authority figures, according to a new study in the ”Journal of Consumer Research” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily”, September 15, 2011.

20. Laughter is a Physical, Not a Mental Thing

From the summary: ”Laughter is regularly promoted as a source of health and well being, but it has been hard to pin down exactly why laughing until it hurts feels so good. The answer, reports Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, is not the intellectual pleasure of cerebral humor, but the physical act of laughing”. Read all about it here in ”3 Quarks Daily”, September 14, 2011.

21. Gender and the Narcissist

An overview of gender differences in narcissism and the finding that most narcissists are male.

22. Existential Therapy

An overview of existential theory and therapy as practiced by Rollo May and Irvin Yalom. Contains quotes, movie recommendations, training, comparisons with the humanistic tradition, and more.

23. The Strange Situation

Presents video of a mother and secure child going through Ainsworth’s Strange Situation. A voice over explains each part of the Strange Situation protocol, to which the baby reacts (runs 5 minutes and 24 seconds).

24. The Pursuit of Happiness

With the philosophy that happiness is ”understandable, obtainable, and teachable” this website presents a history of the philosophy of happiness and finding in the science of happiness along with teaching resources including syllabi, mini-lessons and PowerPoint presentations on the science and philosophy of happiness. They also welcome submissions.

25. Psychology Jeopardy

Stephen Wurst, SUNY Oswego, created these ”Jeopardy”-style games to use for review sessions with your classes. Boards are organized by theme and include: David Bowie Songs, Bruce Springsteen Songs, WordPlay, Broadway Musicals, Classic Jeopardy Categories, Dr. Strangelove and more. You play directly on the Super Teacher Tools website (see below) by choosing the number of teams and amount of time to answer questions. Correct answers are given and the site includes a scoreboard. See the Super Teacher Tools website (below) for a template you can use to make a Jeopardy review game with your own questions.

26. Super Teacher Tools

This site is ”dedicated to providing technology tools for teaching that are quick and easy to download, learn, and start using in your classroom.” Includes review games, classroom management software, and other miscellaneous tools for educators.

27. Personality: Funny in the Head

Does it take a special personality to be a stand-up comedian? Despite some notable exceptions, comedians are not more Neurotic than other people. They are, however, more Open to Experience and less Agreeable according to research by Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller summarized here.

28. Favorite Link Revisited: The Trait Paper Assignment

From the abstract: ”A personality trait-based term paper assignment that is appropriate for use in personality psychology courses and that is designed to foster critical thinking skills is introduced. The extent to which the trait questions correspond to generic critical thinking questions is considered, the specific thinking skills induced by each trait question are discussed, and potential limitations of the assignment are noted. Preliminary data are also presented which suggest that the trait-based term paper assignment stimulates critical thinking and enhances knowledge about personality traits. It is hoped that the ideas presented and issues discussed in the present article will encourage academic psychologists from all subdisciplines to develop writing assignments that foster critical thinking skills.” This assignment is not rooted in a particular model of traits and so is adaptable to any model. From Hittner, J. B. (1999). Fostering critical thinking in personalty psychology. ”Journal of Instructional Psychology”, 26, 92-97.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: