Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 7, March, 2010

March 21, 2010


Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 4, Number 7, March, 2010

Hello and welcome to the forty-third Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at

Have you heard about ToPIX? The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology, part of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, has launched a new teaching resource: The Teaching of Psychology Idea Exchange, a wiki platform for the sharing of teaching resources for all areas of psychology. Editor Sue Frantz says ”Anyone can visit ToPIX, but only members of the site can add content or offer comments. Click ‘edit’ on any page to join. If you find something useful to your teaching, please leave something for those who follow. We’re looking forward to your contributions!”

This month we feature some ”new” old videos by Rene Spitz and Harry Harlow. Check out the vintage footage of children and baby monkeys raised without parental care. As you know, films like these inspired the theorizing of John Bowlby and the work on attachment theory by Mary Ainsworth and others. It’s chilling to imagine that at the time people thought that proper physical care of institutionalized children was sufficient for their development. Hospitals, foundling homes, and institutions changed their way of doing things largely as a result of these kinds of films and the advocacy on the part of Spitz and his contemporaries.

As ever, please pass this newsletter on to interested colleagues and invite them to sign up for future issues. Remember, you can read old newsletters, comment on newsletters, view the current newsletter or re-read what you missed in last month’s newsletter by checking out our blog: You can even receive Personality Pedagogy newsletters via an RSS (“Really Simple Syndication”) feed as soon as they are posted.


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino “at” arcadia “dot” edu

1.TOPIX: Teaching of Psychology Idea Exchange

The site includes classroom activities, videos, and an ‘In the News’ section where summaries of articles from the popular press are linked to the original source and classroom-appropriate discussion questions are provided. Includes rubrics for grading APA-style papers; presentation slides that use animation to illustrate the size-distance illusion and the Stroop test, suitable for class use; videos from all over psychology, and much more.

2. Psychogenic Disease in Infancy (1952)

This classic film by Rene Spitz (1952) provided additional evidence for the attachment theory of John Bowlby by documenting the impact of maternal deprivation on children’s emotional and social development. Today, the Prelinger Archives preserves this film and makes it available for downloading or online streaming. (runs 19 minutes and 13 seconds).

3. Contact Comfort: Harry Harlow Monkey Experiment

In this excerpt from an early documentary on the monkey studies of Harry Harlow, Harlow demonstrates how a baby monkey raised in isolation prefers the contact comfort of a warm, terry cloth mother to a wire mother with food. (2 minutes, 6 seconds).

4. Fear: Another Experiment By Harry Harlow

In this excerpt from an early documentary on the monkey studies of Harry Harlow, Harlow demonstrates how a baby monkey raised in isolation will seek out the safe haven of a warm, terry cloth mother when frightened (1 minute, 27 seconds).

5. What are Dreams?

Psychologists and brain scientists have new answers to an age-old question in this 2009 NOVA program. Check out the website for background information including program transcript, background research on sleep and memory, ask-the-expert, and practical tips on sleep, sleep disorders, and dreaming.

6. Happiness Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Summarizes research by Joe Forgas which suggests that ”People in a positive mood generally rely more on their own thoughts and preferences, and pay less attention to the outside world and social norms . . . happiness’s negative effects all stem from a cheery mood’s tendency to lull you into feeling secure. This makes you look inwards and behave both more selfishly and more carelessly.” Published online in ”New Scientist”, February 26, 2010.

7. Happiness Is Experience, Not Suff

”If you’re trying to buy happiness, you’d be better off putting your money toward a tropical island get-away than a new computer, a new study suggests. The results show that people’s satisfaction with their life-experience purchases — anything from seeing a movie to going on a vacation — tends to start out high and go up over time. On the other hand, although they might be initially happy with that shiny new iPhone or the latest in fashion, their satisfaction with these items wanes with time” according to 8 separate studies by Thomas Gilovich and Travis J. Carter, published in the January 2010 issue of the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” and summarized in this article from ”Live Science”, March 5, 2010. This second link is to a similar summary from ”Science Daily”, March 4, 2010.

8. Guidelines for Preparing Posters Using PowerPoint Presentation Software

Authors Pam J. Marek, Anderson College, Andrew N.Christopher, Albion College, and Cynthia S. Koenig, University of Florida, created this PDF overview for the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology in 2001 (opens in PDF format).

9. The Authoritarian Personality Revisited

According to Alan Wolfe, ”[the book] ”The Authoritarian Personality” (by T. W. Adorno, et al., 1950) addressed itself to the question of whether the United States might harbor significant numbers of people with a ”potentially fascistic” disposition. It did so with methods that claimed to represent the cutting edge in social science — and that’s where the book got in trouble with scholars of its day. But in today’s political climate, it might be time to revisit its thesis”. This opinion piece from ”The Chronicle of Higher Education”, October 7, 2005.

10. Ode to Joy and Serenity and Curiosity and . . .

Wray Herbert summarizes the work of Barbara Fredrickson on the Broaden and Build theory of positive emotions in his blog ”We’re Only Human” December 16, 2008. He takes up the question of ”What are positive emotions for?” by summarizing Fredrickson’s research on resilience and positive emotions.

11. I feel like a Different Person

Wray Herbert summarizes the work of Claire Ashton-James on the relationship between mood and identity in his blog ”We’re Only Human” from March 12, 2009. He takes up the question of ”How much of our ”self” is subject to the vagaries of our moods?” by summarizing Ashton-James’s research on mood, attitudes, and cultural stereotypes.

12. Rewards for Students Under a Microscope

Whether rewarding children for academic efforts backfires by undermining their intrinsic interest or works to increase productivity continues to be a subject of debate among parents, educators, and psychologists, according to this article from the ”New York Times” by Lisa Guernsey from March 2, 2009. Like it or not, such programs seem to be proliferating, especially in high-poverty areas. (Remember that you may need a free subscription to read articles on the ”New York Times” web site).