Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 7, Number 7, March, 2013

Hello and welcome to the seventy-ninth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,752 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

One-hundred and eight years ago today psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl was born in Austria. This would be a good time to reflect upon the lessons on finding meaning Frankl presented in his moving book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Our first link is to a very moving summary of the book in words and pictures by Maria Popova for her “Brain Pickings” blog.

There are two sides to every story, and this month we present you with the pros and cons of a new initiative endorsed by President Obama this month: The Brain Activity Map. The goal is that neuroscientists will join their efforts to map areas of the brain the way scientists decoded the human genome a few years back. But is it even possible to identify all of the areas of brain function, and is localization even the best way to understand brain functioning? See the links below for more on this controversial proposal.

Speaking of the other side to stories, check out the softer side of B. F. Skinner. Thanks to Michael Britt of “The Psych Files” we have links and sound clips of Skinner discussing compassion, music, a love of reading and other topics. Britt argues that Skinner and his theories are more complicated than you might have first thought.

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. Happy Birthday, Viktor Frankl: Timeless Wisdom on the Human Search for Meaning

In recognition of Viktor Frankl’s birthday, science writer Maria Popova summarizes Frankl’s theory and how we create meaning out of purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty, using excerpts from his work and photos of Frankl and others.

3. Brain Activity Map Proponents Explain Goals of Blood Neuroscience

Science writer Stephanie Pappas explains “Neuroscientists are pushing for a major project that would map the activity of the brain, potentially illuminating the causes of depression, schizophrenia and other major mental health disorders” in this article from “LiveScience”, March 7, 2013.

4. What’s Wrong With the Brain Activity Map Proposal

“With the president suggesting a multibillion-dollar neuroscience effort, a leading neuroscientist explains the deep conceptual problems with plans to record all the brain’s neurons” in this article by Partha Mitra in “Scientific American”, from March 5, 2013.

5. What Was B.F. Skinner Really Like?

According to Michael Britt of “The Psych Files” podcast, “Would you be surprised to learn that B.F. Skinner was a very likable guy and that you may actually be very much in agreement with his ideas? Many people who study psychology have a negative impression of Skinner. Well, I’m about to challenge those impressions by presenting a side of Skinner you probably haven’t been exposed to. In these sound bytes you’ll hear his ideas about learning to play music, about discovery, having fun and becoming the most that you can be.” From episode 191 posted March 11, 2013 (runs 32 minutes, 35 seconds).

6. Skinner on Compassionate Behavior

Michael Britt of “The Psych Files” podcast presents this audio clip of B.F. Skinner on compassion: “Listen to B. F. Skinner as he explains how he believes we can get people to be more compassionate as they deal with old people, prisoners, psychiatric patients and the developmentally delayed (which in his day were referred to commonly as ‘retardates’). Note that he is more in favor of rewarding positive behavior than in implementing ‘aversive controls’ also note that he speaks of how important knowledge is in treating people with these needs” (runs 2 minutes, 31 seconds).

7. Skinner on Learning to Love Reading

Michael Britt of “The Psych Files” podcast presents this audio clip of B. F. Skinner talking about reading. “In another surprisingly “humanistic” interview with B.F. Skinner he discusses what he thinks we can do to make learning to read fun. ‘Fun’? and ‘Skinner’? Yup. There are more sides to Skinner than we sometimes think about after we’ve had only a basic course in psychology” (runs 3 minutes and 31 seconds).

8. Skinner on Learning to Play Music

Michael Britt of “The Psych Files” podcast presents this audio clip of B.F. Skinner talking about learning to play music. As Britt explains, Skinner “has, unfortunately, suffered from a bad reputation. Listen to how he explains his own experiences learning to play the piano and his suggestions for how children might come to love playing music if we introduce it into their lives correctly. If you didn’t know it was his voice you probably wouldn’t guess this was him speaking” (runs 1 minute, 40 seconds).

9. Gender Trouble

Summarizes the work of Judith Butler who argues that gender identity is a social construction.

10. The Bechdel Test For Media Bia

According to the Feminist Frequency website by media critic Anita Sarkeesian: “The Bechdel Test is a simple way to gauge the active presence of female characters in Hollywood films and just how well rounded and complete those roles are. It was created by Allison Bechdel in her comic strip ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ in 1985”. The test is: (1) Does the film have at least two [named or otherwise central character] women in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something besides a man? (runs 2 minutes, 3 seconds). You and your students can use this test to see how popular movies, especially those winning Oscars or other top awards, fare. See here for a discussion of similar tests for other types of bias in the media.

11. Humanistic Theory and Therapy Applied to the Psychotic Individual

Ann Reitan describes how therapy in general, and humanistic therapy in particular, can be helpful to a psychotic person. Focusing on the theory and techniques of Carl Rogers, and especially his notions of conditions of worth and unconditional positive regard, she describes how therapy could help a person with schizophrenia.

12. The Stories That Bind Us

Writer Bruce Feiler describes research which suggests that the stories families tell about themselves inspire resilience in future generations. From “The New York Times”, March 15, 2013.

13. How You Can Be a Better Storyteller

Eric Barker, of the “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” blog presents this interview with UCLA Film School Professor Howard Suber. Along the way, Suber reveals the power of a narrative to define — and change — our lives. Posted March 4, 2013.

14. Can People’s Personalities Change?

“Instead of personality being set in stone at 30, now evidence is emerging that there is some change. In fact people don’t give exactly the same answers to personality questionnaires at different times in their lives” according to research by Boyce et al., published in “Social Indicators Research” and summarized here in “PsyBlog”, February 25, 2013.

15. World of Warcraft: Why People Play is Linked to their Personality

John Grohol reviews research by Graham and Gosling (2013) which found that people play “World of Warcraft” for different reasons linked to their personality and that the experience of playing is different for people depending on their levels of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Posted March 18, 2013.

16. Favorite Link Revisited: “I Was Not A Lab Rat”

Deborah Skinner’s essay about growing up as the baby in the box.


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