Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 9, Number 2, October 2014

Hello and welcome to the eighty-sixth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 3,072 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

Did you know that Walter Mischel doesn’t like marshmallows? At age 84 psychologist Walter Mischel published a new book “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control” summarizing over 50 years of his research on delay of gratification and self-control. He and his book are featured all over the media, from a personal appearance on the Colbert Report to summaries of his work in various print and online publications. Check out our links to some of these items below to learn more about Mischel and his work.

Also, 75 years ago last month Sigmund Freud died as a refugee in London. “The New York Times” marked the occasion by reprinting the original 1939 obituary from the “International Herald Tribune”.

Finally, just in time for Halloween, science has figured out what causes teenagers to act like zombies in their morning classes and how to minimize the problem. It all has to do with the teenage body clock. Check out an article describing research on this phenomenon complete with a lesson plan including discussion questions for instructors and their zombies, er, students.

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. Walter Mischel on The Colbert Report

“The Colbert Report”, a popular late-night satirical television program, featured special guest psychologist Walter Mischel to discuss his new book on the marshmallow test. In this segment, Mischel performs the test on Colbert with hilarious results. Through it all, Mischel remains cool despite Colbert’s antics, summarizes the results of this classic research program, and even admits to not liking marshmallows! From September 25, 2014. The segment with Mischel starts at 15:23 and runs about 5 minutes.

3. Learning How to Exert Self-Control

Writer Pamela Druckerman interviews Walter Mischel on his famous research using the marshmallow test to study self-control. Mischel “explains that there are two warring parts of the brain: a hot part demanding immediate gratification (the limbic system), and a cool, goal-oriented part (the prefrontal cortex). The secret of self-control, he says, is to train the prefrontal cortex to kick in first.” From “The New York Times”, September 12, 2014.

4. The Struggles of a Psychologist Studying Self-Control

Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova talks with Walter Mischel about his research using the marshmallow test to study self-control and delay of gratification. Here, she discusses strategies Mischel used to help himself quit smoking and eat healthier. “Self-control is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Avoiding something tempting once will help you develop the ability to resist other temptations in the future.” From “The New Yorker”, October 9, 2014.

5. Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students

From the American Psychological Association (APA): “[T]eachers can apply a wealth of psychological research in their classrooms. Psychology’s insights can help teachers manage behavior problems, motivate students, assist struggling learners, handle stress and support talented youth.” In this module “Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students” (2014) psychologist Barbara McCombs describes how teachers can use findings from Self-Determination theory and developmental psychology to help create autonomous, self-regulated learners from kindergarten through high school and beyond.

6. Debriefed Stories: How to Conduct a Debriefing Discussion

According to trainer and games guru Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan, “People don’t learn from experience. They learn from reflecting on their experience.” In this interactive story, he presents six questions for debriefing which facilitators can use to help participants reflect and learn from their experience. Very useful for teachers, trainers, facilitators, group leaders, and others who like to use experiential learning in their work. From the “Thiagi Gameletter”, October 2014.

7. Which Personality Traits Are Most Important to Employers?

Summarizes research by Paul R. Sackett and Philip T. Walmsley published in the journal “Perspectives in Psychological Science” (2014) which found that employers seek candidates who are high in conscientiousness and agreeableness and that these traits are related to success across a range of jobs.

8. The Link Between Your Spouse’s Personality And That Promotion You Just Got

It’s known that personality plays a role in professional success. However, research published in “Psychological Science” and summarized here suggests that your spouse’s personality can greatly affect your career as well. From “The Huffington Post”, September 24, 2014.

9. Buy Experiences, Not Things

Research by Amit Kumar, Matthew Killingsworth and Tom Gilovich published in “Psychological Science” and summarized here for “The Atlantic” (2014) suggests that happiness comes from acquiring positive experiences, not material goods. In particular, both the anticipation of a positive experience and the reflecting back on a past experience makes people happier than anticipation of or the reflecting back on, a material good. From “The Atlantic”, October 7, 2014.

10. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova describes the link between expectations and outcomes for cynics and optimists, while incorporating research on locus of control, learned helplessness, depressive realism, perceived control, optimism, pessimism, self-fulfilling prophesies and more. From “The New Yorker”, June 18, 2014.

11. Famous Writers’ Sleep Habits vs. Literary Productivity, Visualized

Maria Popova, writing for “Brain Pickings”, wonders if there is a correlation between sleep habits and literary productivity. The results of her query led to this graphic illustrating the sleep cycle of 37 famous writers and their literary accomplishments. The result suggests that having a set routine is more important for productivity that whether one is a morning lark or a night owl. Posted December 2013.

12. How Entrepreneurs Can Develop Grit, The Most Important Trait Of Successful People

Writer Faisal Hoque describes about how entrepreneurs can build “Perseverance and passion for long-term goals”, called GRIT by psychologist Angela Duckworth, by developing the characteristics of gut, resiliency, inventiveness, tenacity, and trusting instincts in this piece published in “Business Insider”, October 8, 2014.

13. How To Go From Dreaming To Doing: 4 Steps To Motivation

Eric Barker, writing for his “Barking up the Wrong Tree” blog, describes the work of Gabriele Oettingen on the WOOP method to maintain motivation. According to Oettingen’s research, people who focus on Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan achieve their goals better than people without this strategy. Posted October 5, 2014.

14. 1939: Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalyst, Dies Refugee in England at 83

“Sigmund Freud, originator of psychoanalysis and considered by many as the greatest single influence on the thought of the twentieth century, died at his home in Hampstead, England, early yesterday morning at the age of eighty-three.” A reprint of the original 1939 obituary from the “International Herald Tribune”, September 23, 2014.

15. Happiness: 10 Fascinating New Psychology Studies Everyone Should Know

Reviews 10 recent psychological studies on happiness including findings from genetics, neuroscience, emotions, traits, and more. From “PsyBlog”, September 11, 2014.

16. Early School Starts Can Turn Teens Into “Zombies”

The body clock of teenagers shifts as they get older so that they end up being sleep deprived zombies in their early morning classes. “By the time [a teen] is 17 or 18, however, her body now naturally wants to stay up until 10:30 or 11 p.m. […] for biological reasons, the average teen just can’t go to sleep much before 11 p.m.” Also see the lesson plan which accompanies this article here []. Published by the “Society for Science and the Public”, September 11, 2014.

17. Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People: Narcissistic, Machiavellian, Psychopathic, and Sadistic

Research by Erin E. Buckels, Paul D. Trapnell, and Delroy L. Paulhus published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences” (2014) found that Internet trolls — people who intentionally incite discord in online communities — tended to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.

18. Favorite Link Revisited: The Thiagi Group: The Source for Training Games and Interactive Experiential Strategies

Educator and simulation game guru Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan of “Barnga” fame, maintains a web site with tons of ideas to get participants involved and playing with ideas. According to the website: “We Do Training. And we do it differently. We use games and activities that engage participants. We keep them interacting with each other and with the content. We design training faster, cheaper, and better with an irreverent process that eliminates unnecessary steps that don’t add value. Come play with us! We’ll have you laughing and learning.” Check out their many ideas and sign up for their monthly e-mail newsletter.


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