Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 5, January, 2012

Hello and welcome to the sixty-fifth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,376 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month National Geographic is running an article on Twins: nature, nurture, and the so-called ”third way” of epigenetics. As researcher Danielle Reed explains ”Mother Nature writes some things in pencil and some things in pen. Things written in pen you can’t change. That’s DNA. But things written in pencil you can. That’s epigenetics. Now that we’re actually able to look at the DNA and see where the pencil writings are, it’s sort of a whole new world.” The article is a fascinating read for students and teachers alike and the accompanying photo montages of twins by two different photographers will liven up your class materials.

Also this month, in the aftermath of the peak toy season, there has been a big controversy over gender-neutral toys now being re-designed and marketed to girls. Yes, the Lego building blocks loved by children all over are now getting feminine figures, cafe and salon play scenes, and a make-over in shades of pink and purple. See young Riley’s rant about such marketing ploys, a very thoughtful op-ed article on the issue, and a vintage ad for Legos from the 1980s below. These materials can be used to illustrate gender stereotyping and gender socialization or to give your students food-for-thought for a lively classroom debate on the topic.

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 view the current newsletter, comment on newsletters, re-read what you missed in previous newsletters, or search all newsletters 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. A Thing or Two About Twins

From the website: ”They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ—despite having the same DNA—could reveal a great deal about all of us.” Good explanation of epigenetics from ”National Geographic”, January 2012 by Peter Miller.

3. The Photographic Fascination With Twins

Photographer Martin Schoeller capture these portraits of three sets of identical twins to illustrate a recent story in National Geographic: ”In Schoeller’s portraits, eyes are like an open book. His portraits are studies of the face’s physical topography, but also of our irrepressible emotions — how they translate to the twinkle of an eye or the wrinkle on a forehead.”

4. Photo Gallery: A Thing or Two About Twins

From the website: ”Photographer Jodi Cobb captures the interaction between twins — and how they can be both alike and different — in this photo gallery.”

5. Should the World of Toys Be Gender Free?

Peggy Orenstein evaluates the pros and cons of gender targeted toys and marketing campaigns in this op ed article from the ”New York Times”, December 29, 2011.

6. Riley on Marketing

Riley Maida, age 4, has had enough of pink princesses being marketed to girls and super heroes being marketed to boys. She speaks out for the cessation of gendered toy marketing and the elimination of gendered stereotypes. Also check out this ABC News profile on Riley.

7. Vintage Lego Ad and article on Social Media Backlash against the new Legos

8. Resilience: The Ghost Boy

According to this uplifting story in the ”Mail Online”, from July 6, 2011, ”Martin Pistorius was a happy, healthy boy – until at the age of 12 a mystery illness left him in a virtual coma. Doctors never found the cause of his condition – even his mother gave up hope. Yet in 1992, when Martin was 16, a miracle happened: he started to regain consciousness. But he was still trapped in his broken body, unable to communicate. Slowly, however, he regained some control of his head and arms, and began to use a computer to write messages and operate a synthetic voice. Here, Martin tells the story of his remarkable recovery – and how he came to find love, a home and a job in England…”

9. Virginia Tech Shootings: Research on Post-Traumatic Stress

According to research by professors Michael Hughes and Russell T. Jones, 15.4 percent of Virginia Tech students experienced high levels of posttraumatic stress three to four months following the shootings. Their research is published in ”Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 3, 2011.

10. The Great Parking Debate: A Research Methods Case Study

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science presents this vignette to teaching principles of hypothesis testing: ”Two friends debate whether people leave their parking spaces faster if others are waiting. They decide to see if they can design a study to test their ideas. In this interrupted case study, students develop a research question and hypothesis and consider how to test a hypothesis. Students read about what researchers have done to answer the research question and identify and evaluate different research designs. Students are also asked to evaluate data. Developed for a use in an introductory psychology course to cover terms and concepts related to research methods, the case could be used in other introductory science classes, early in research methods courses, or in upper-level social science courses.” Includes teaching notes and answer key.

11. Narcissists Look Like Good Leaders — But They Aren’t

”Narcissists rise to the top. That’s because other people think their qualities—confidence, dominance, authority, and self-esteem—make them good leaders.” However, this is not the case according to research by Barbora Nevicka and others published in ”Psychological Science”, September 2011, and summarized here.

12. Existentialtainment

A compendium of jokes, cartoons, and examples from the media which illustrate aspects of existentialism.

13. Best Marriage Equality Commercial Ever

This Australian public service announcement takes a novel and moving approach in its support for marriage equality.

14. WingClips: Movie Clips that Illustrate and Inspire

Inspirational movie clips for use in school, church, or other organization. The site is organized by movie title, scripture, category, and theme, and is searchable. Clips can be streamed (but are imprinted with a watermark) or can be downloaded. Most are free; some are available for a small fee.

15. Laughter Has Positive Impact on Vascular Function

”Watching a funny movie or sitcom that produces laughter has a positive effect on vascular function and is opposite to that observed after watching a movie that causes mental stress according to research” by Michael Miller and colleagues presented at the ”European Society of Cardiology Congress” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 28, 2011.

16. Three Facts You Might Not Know About Freud and His Cocaine Addiction

Writer Margarita Tartakovsky for ”World of Psychology” presents these three little-known facts about Freud’s cocaine addiction from Howard Markel’s book ”An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug Cocaine”.

17. Sex Differences in Mental Illness

”Women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, while men tend toward substance abuse or antisocial disorders, according to a new study” published in the ”Journal of Abnormal Psychology” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 18, 2011.

18. Flawed Logic of Segregating Boys and Girls for Education Purposes Based on Alleged Brain Differences

According to research by Lise Eliot and colleagues, ”There is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately. Her review reveals fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward by proponents of single-sex schools to justify the need of teaching teach boys and girls separately. Eliot shows that neuroscience has identified few reliable differences between boys’ and girls’ brains relevant to learning or education.” This research was published in ”Sex Roles” and is summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 18, 2011.

19. Consumer Self-Esteem While Shopping

”People who don’t feel positive about their appearance are less likely to buy an item they’re trying on if they see a good-looking shopper or salesperson wearing the same thing” according to research by Darren Dahl, Jennifer Argo, and Andrea Morales, published in the ”Journal of Consumer Research” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 20, 2011.

20. Favorite Link Revisited: Psychology Cartoons

Spice up your lectures with one of these classic single-panel cartoons of Sydney Harris. In this online collection of science cartoons you will find references to Freud, Rorschach, brain dominance, Skinner, existentialism, and more.


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