Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 7, Number 5, January, 2013

Hello and welcome to the seventy-seventh Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,725 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

Happy New Year! Happy New Month! And for many of you, Happy New Semester! As much as I hate the darkness of winter here on the East Coast, I do relish the chance to start again with new beginnings. If you are like me, then you will welcome this month’s newsletter filled with new things to refresh and renew your personality psychology classes.

Speaking of happy, we’ve got a bit of a debate of sorts happening in this issue. Check out three of our newest links suggesting that money does buy happiness —  but that there’s more to life than being happy, and judge for yourself.

This month marks 20 years since the first fMRI study was published. To celebrate, the APS journal Perspectives on Psychological Science features a special section in which leading scientists reflect on the contributions this brain scanning technique has made to our understanding of human thought. While not strictly related to personality, the reflections are nonetheless interesting. Check it out here.

Special thanks goes out to Jon Mueller for the link to the Easy Bake Oven controversy (see below). Be sure to check out his newsletter and website if you are interested in teaching social psychology.

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. Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualization, More or Less Actualized

Psychologist Ann Reitan reflects on Abraham Maslow’s notion of self-actualization. First, she explains what it is, then she muses on what it means for different people at different times in their lives, drawing on the work of Eric Erikson. Finally, she suggests that self-actualizing people may find meaning at lower levels of the hierarchy, such as when their needs are being threatened. She gives examples of people who she believed were actualizing while facing death (e.g., Viktor Frankl), fearing for their safety (e.g., Nelson Mandela), losing their freedom (e.g., Ghandi), and experiencing mental illness (e.g., Sylvia Plath). From “Brain Blogger”, January 8, 2013.

3. There’s More to Life Than Being Happy

According to Viktor Frankl, “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness,” and yet Americans and American psychology are obsessed with happiness. Meaningfulness and happiness are not the same thing, and this article draws on new work by Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker & Emily Garbinsky (2013) to understand the difference. From “The Atlantic”, January 9, 2013. Their forthcoming paper in the “Journal of Positive Psychology” is available here: (opens in PDF format).

4. Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons from the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being

A summary of 6 observations from the paper “The New Stylized Facts about Income and Subjective Well-Being” by Daniel W. Sacks, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers. From “The Atlantic,” January 10, 2013.

5. Implicit Assessment of The Five Factors

Researches have hit upon an implicit way of measuring personality, the “semantic misattribution procedure”. “In this initial study, and two more involving nearly 300 participants … participants’ scores on this test for conscientiousness, neuroticism and extraversion correlated with explicit measures of the same traits. The new implicit test also did a better job than explicit measures alone of predicting relevant behaviours, such as church attendance, perseverance on a lab task, and punctuality. The implicit scores for extraversion showed good consistency over 6 months. Finally, the new implicit test showed fewer signs of being influenced by social desirability concerns, as compared with traditional explicit measures.” From “BPS Research Digest”, December 13, 2012.

6. Assessing Personality via Social Media Postings: claims to assess personality though people’s social media posts. Users can analyze their own personality and see how they compare to Barak Obama, Mitt Romney, Abraham Lincoln, the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and some 135 other famous people on Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy (aka, Psychoticism).

7. You Can’t See It, But You’ll be a Different Person in 10 Years

“No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they’ll be tomorrow.” according to the End of History Illusion. According to researcher Daniel Gilbert, “Life is a process of growing and changing, and what our results suggest is that growth and change really never stops … despite the fact that at every age from 18 to 68, we think it’s pretty much come to a close.” You can listen to the original segment and comment by Gilbert here, on the NPR website (runs 3 minutes, 58 seconds) or read a more in-depth summary from the “New York Times” here.

8. Sexism-Free Easy Bake Oven On the Way

Due to the protests started by 13-year old McKenna Pope (here) and backed by big-name chefs including Bobby Flay, and the general public, Hasbro, the makers of the class Easy-Bake, oven will launch a new line of gender-neutral ovens that will feature gender-neutral colors and more boys in their advertisements.

9. Activities Guide: Teaching Ethics in the Introduction to Psychology Course

The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) is pleased to announce this new resource for teachers by Ana Ruiz and Judith Warchal of Alvernia University. “This 23-page guide presents 17 activities related to ethics for each chapter in a typical Introduction to Psychology text as it integrates the APA Learning Goals and Outcomes for ethics into that course.  For each chapter, the activity lists the student learning outcome, instructions for conducting the activity, materials needed, approximate time required, and a method of assessment.” Activities most relevant to the personality class include APA ethics code jeopardy, research methods, personality testing, and debating controversial topics.

10. Who’s Gay On TV? Dads, Journalists, Investigators, And Footmen

Presents an interesting account of the various portrayals of gays and lesbians found on TV today. Though the number of gays and lesbians has increased in recent years, for some, the portrayals may not be as realistic as they could be. Published January 3, 2013. (also available in audio running 7 minutes, 45 seconds).

11. Gorillas, Watermelons and Sperm: The Greatest Genomes Sequenced in 2012

Scientists identified the genetic codes of some of the world’s most fascinating animals and plants. Check out what they found in this online photo gallery of 8 stunning images posted by “Popular Science”, January 2, 2013.

12. The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

A good summary of 12 common flaws in our thinking including the confirmation bias, gambler’s fallacy, neglecting probability, the current moment bias, the anchoring effect, and more.

13. A Chart of Emotions that Have No Names in the English Language

Designer Pei-Ying Lin has created interesting conceptual charts of emotions including one for emotions that have no names in the English language and another for new emotions invented by the Internet.

14. Neurotic People Might Have Better Health Outcomes When They are High in Conscientiousness.

People who are high in Neuroticism and Conscientiousness experience lower levels of Interleukin 6 (IL-6), a biomarker for inflammation and chronic disease; lower body-mass index scores; and fewer diagnosed chronic health conditions. From “Prevention News”, November 2012.

15. Darwin Was Wrong About Dating

New research is beginning to question the long-accepted evolutionary explanation for various mating behaviors. Read about some of the alternative explanations and new data on sex differences in mating strategies, selectiveness, and desire for casual sex. From “The New York Times,” January 12, 2013.

16. Favorite Link Revisited: Careers in Psychology

From the website: “Are you preparing yourself for a career in psychology? Well, you’ve come to the right place! We understand your enthusiasm and eagerness to get started in a growing and lucrative field like psychology. However, we also know how difficult it can be to get started in this field, which is exactly why we’re here.” The site features background information on careers, degree paths, programs, internships, licensure information, interviews with psychology professionals, and more.


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