Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 10, June, 2012

Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 10, June, 2012

Hello and welcome to the seventieth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,531 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

The theme for this month appears to be shoes. From the controversy of an ad campaign to get more young women interested in science (dancing in the lab in high heels anyone?) to what your favorite shoes say about your personality (ditch those beat up, smelly sneakers!), read all about it in this month’s newsletter!

We discovered a really fantastic graphic program to illustrate how heritability estimates may vary depending on the population under study. Using the data from the Davis, Haworth, & Plomin (2012) twin study published this month in ”Molecular Psychiatry”, the program presents data from more than 6700 families relating to childhood characteristics, including IQ, reading, mathematics, and language ability superimposed over a map of the UK. Users can explore for themselves how genetic and environmental contributions to these characteristics vary geographically, and even test their own hypotheses. The best part of all, is that researcher Robert Plomin, director of the Twins Early Development Study at Kings College, London and his colleagues have made the program and data available to anyone to download for free! The links below point you to a summary of their work and the website of the program which also includes a link to the original paper. We tested the program out for ourselves and were amazedly how easy it was to use and how vividly it illustrated large amounts of data.

Finally, we’ve added three new scales to our already over-full Tests, Measures and Scales page. Check out the web’s most extensive collections of legitimate personality measures.

By the way, if you will be teaching an undergraduate course in personality psychology, permit me one moment of shameless self-promotion. Please consider adopting this text: Personality Psychology: Foundations and Findings (See Written in an engaging narrative style, it summarizes the basic research findings across the various foundations of personality including genetics, traits, neuroscience, motivation, and much more. The book also features chapters which integrate information across individual foundations to help students understand resilience, sexual orientation, and how gender influences personality. The book comes with what may well be the best Instructor’s manual out there for personality psychology, featuring lecture and discussion ideas, active learning ideas, multimedia resources, web resources, and more. Check it out!

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
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2. Nature or Nurture? It May Depend on Where You Live
”In a study published today in the journal ”Molecular Psychiatry”, researchers from the Twins Early Development Study at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry studied data from more than 6700 families relating to 45 childhood characteristics, from IQ and hyperactivity to height and weight. They found that genetic and environmental contributions to these characteristics vary geographically in the UK and have published their results online as a series of nature-nurture maps.” From ”Wellcome Trust,” June 12, 2012.

3. spACE Visualization Program to Explore Variation in Genetic and Environmental Influences Across the UK
The Twins Early Development Study, King’s College London, has made the data from the Davis, Haworth, & Plomin (2012) ”Molecular Psychiatry” paper available in this special open source version which can be downloaded for free. The program, ”spACE”, uses statistical and visual analysis of their massive twin data set to present heritability and environmentally estimates for numerous characteristics such as reading ability, verbal ability, mathematical ability, languages, and IQ superimposed over a map of the UK. Users can explore how the relative contributions of nature and nurture vary for each dependent variable depending on where in the UK one lives.

4. Girls! Be a Scientist! You Too Can Dance In the Lab In High Heels!
The European Commission released a teaser video to recruit young women into science by making it appear sexier and more fun (e.g., images of make-up to illustrate chemistry and materials science and very attractive women scientists). The video was quickly pulled due to sharp criticism. ”Knight Science Journalism Tracker” writer Deborah Blum comments on the buzz the video created along with a link of the original 53-second video. This video and the surrounding controversy would be a good way to introduce the idea of gender stereotyping, gender expectations, and gender differences in personality to your students or for a possible debate on the pros and cons of presenting science and scientists in this manner. Posted June 22, 2012.

5. What Your Choice of Shoe Says About You
Observers agree and are quite accurate in judging people’s Agreeableness, age, gender, income and attachment style from the pair of shoes people wear most often, but are not so accurate when it comes to judging Extroversion, Conscientiousness and political ideology, according to research by Omri Gillatha and colleagues and summarized here in ”BPS Research Digest,” June 19, 2012.

6. More Money Can Mean Less Happiness for Neurotics
There is a difference between how people high and low in neuroticism respond to a pay increase, depending on where there are on the pay scale to begin with. While increasing income makes poor neurotics happier, it makes well-paid neurotics unhappier than their non-neurotic peers, according to research by Eugenio Proto and Aldo Rustichini and summarized here in ”LiveScience,” June 11, 2012.

7. Morning People Are Actually Happier Than Night Owls
Not only are morning types happier than night owls during the teen and young adulthood years, but they are also happier in older adulthood as well. This, according to a study by Renee Biss and summarized here in ”LiveScience,” June 11, 2012.

8. Freud’s Theory of Unconscious Conflict Linked to Anxiety Symptoms
”An experiment that Sigmund Freud could never have imagined 100 years ago may help lend scientific support for one of his key theories, and help connect it with current neuroscience . . . A link between unconscious conflicts and conscious anxiety disorder symptoms have been shown, lending empirical support to psychoanalysis” according to research by Shevrin and colleagues summarized here in ”ScienceDaily,” June 16, 2012.

9. Who’s Stressed in the US? Adult Stress Levels from 1983-2009
”Results show women report more stress, stress decreases with age, and the recent economic downturn mostly affected white, middle-aged men with college educations and full-time jobs” according to research by Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts published in the ”Journal of Applied Social Psychology” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily,” June 11, 2012.

10. Flourishing Scale
The Flourishing Scale by Diener, et al. (2009), ”is a brief 8-item summary measure of the respondent’s self-perceived success in important areas such as relationships, self-esteem, purpose, and optimism. The scale provides a single psychological well-being score.” The scale is available for downloading in English, Chinese, Hungarian, and Turkish.

11. Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE)
The Scale of Positive and Negative Experience by Diener et al. (2009) ”is a 12-item questionnaire includes six items to assess positive feelings and six items to assess negative feelings. For both the positive and negative items, three of the items are general (e.g., positive, negative) and three per subscale are more specific (e.g., joyful, sad).”

12. CERQ: Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire
The CERQ by Nadia Garnefski and Vivian Kraaij is a 36-item ”multidimensional questionnaire constructed in order to identify the cognitive emotion regulation strategies (or cognitive coping strategies) someone uses after having experienced negative events or situations. Contrary to other coping questionnaires that do not explicitly differentiate between an individual’s thoughts and his or her actual actions, the present questionnaire refers exclusively to an individual’s thoughts after having experienced a negative event.”

13. Carrots, Not Sticks, Motivate Workers
”A study co-authored by Michigan State University business scholar Karen Sedatole suggests workers respond better to the promise of reward, or carrots, than they do the threat of punishment, or sticks.” Summary from ”PhysOrg”, June 20, 2012.

14. Genetics By The Numbers: 10 Tantalizing Tales
”LiveScience” summarizes these interesting facts about genes and inheritance including the length of human DNA, the number of genes in the human genome, the percent of our genome which is noncoding DNA, and more. Published online June 11, 2012.

15. Animal Code: Our Favorite Genomes
”LiveScience” presents this slide show of their 10 favorite projects mapping the genomes of various animals — including humans — such as the cow, turkey, orangutan, rhesus monkey, and others. Genome sequencing can explain unusual animal traits, lead to disease-resistant animals, shed light on evolutionary processes, and much more. Published online May 30, 2012.

16. Human Connectome Project
A joint project of scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, The Human Connectome Project aims to ”construct a map of the complete structural and functional neural connections in vivo within and across individuals.” Read about the details of their work and see their amazing pictures of neural connections within the human brain.

17. Damaged Connections in Phineas Gage’s Brain: Famous 1848 Case of Man Who Survived Accident Has Modern Parallel
The personality changes noted in Phineas Gage after his famous brain injury may have been due more to a disruption in connections between the left frontal cortex and the rest of the brain, than due to injury of the cortex itself. Jack Van Horn and colleagues studied the wiring of the brain and the severing of these connections which made neuroscience’s most famous case study ”no longer Gage.” Their research, part of the Human Connectome Project (see previous entry) was published in ”PLoS ONE” and is summarized here in ”ScienceDaily,”  May 16, 2012.

18. More TV, Less Self-Esteem, Except for White Boys
According to research published in the journal ”Communications Research” white boys may be the exception to the usual finding that children’s self-esteem generally goes down as TV watching goes up. From ABC news, May 30, 2012.

19. Is Self-Esteem the Key to Success?
”Self-esteem is more likely to influence success than vice versa” according to research by Ulrich Orth and colleagues, published in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” and summarized here, October 2011.

20. Favorite Link Revisited: Where the Hell Is Matt Dancing?
Matt, a 31-year old self-proclaimed deadbeat from Connecticut, was once told by his friend while traveling in Hanoi, ”Hey, why don’t you stand over there and do that dance? I’ll record it”. The rest is, as they say, Internet history. In 2005, 2006 and 2008 Matt traveled around the world dancing and spreading joy. The brief video montages from his travels are sure to make you smile even as they introduce cultural differences (clothing, housing) and cultural universals (dancing, smiling, music, positive emotions, and camaraderie) to your students. Update: In his newest (2012) and possibly most inspirational video yet, Matt shares dances with people in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, the Gaza Strip, North Korean, and strife-ridden Syria (with their faces blurred for their own safety). Watch to the end to see how far this former deadbeat has come.


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