Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 6, February, 2012

February 15, 2012

Hello and welcome to the sixty-sixth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,395 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

The big news this Valentine’s Day is that the APA filed briefs in the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals and the Montana Supreme Court that support the legal rights of same-sex couples. The brief drew on psychological research suggesting that forming intimate relationships and parenting healthy children is not bounded by sexual orientation.

Does being an introvert stink? This month, the meek shall inherit the earth … or at least four links in this month’s newsletter. Susan Cain’s just-released book ”Quiet: The Power of Introverts” has attracted quite a bit of media attention. In it, she suggests that there are advantages to being an introvert. Also, new research suggests that extroverts may bias self-report studies by their cheerfulness and — in one of those strange-but-true-studies — raters can accurately judge how outgoing or dominant people are from how they smell!

Finally, we discovered a series of articles in ”Psychology Today” which nearly doubles our size of resources on the topic of Narrative Psychology. We are always on the lookout for valuable resources, so if you have one you’d like to see us include, just send us the link!

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. APA Files Two Briefs In Support of Same-Sex Couples

According to this press release, ”APA has filed two friend-of-the-court briefs–—one in the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals and one in the Montana Supreme Court–—that support the legal rights of same-sex couples. The cases are significantly different in their arguments before the court, but the briefs rely on the same social science research showing that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and that same-sex couples are not any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents and that their children are no less adjusted.”

3. Some Personality Traits Affect How You Smell

New research suggests that people can assess how outgoing, anxious, or dominant people are based on their body odor. Read the summary here in ”LiveScience”, December 2, 2011.

4. Are Extroverts Ruining Psychologists’ Surveys?

According to a recent study, ”Extroverts answer survey questions more enthusiastically than do introverts” Is their tendency towards hyperbole getting in the way of scientific objectivity? Do extroverts really experience the world more intensely, or are they just less hesitant to say so? Read all about it in this summary from ”LiveScience,” August 19, 2011.

5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts

Susan Cain, author of ”Quiet: The Power of Introverts” appeared recently on the radio program ”Radio Times” with host Marty Moss-Coane. From the website: ”In a world that celebrates the loudest, most outlandish, extroverted personalities, a new book makes the case for quieter types –– those who shy away from the limelight and who like to spend time alone. Writer Susan Cain says there are advantages to being an introvert, including being a reflective thinker and a good listener. Cain also highlights some well-known introverts like Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Gates and Gandhi, who famously said, ”In a gentle way you can shake the world.” She tells Marty about the science behind introversion and the biases that shy people face.” Runs 49 minutes, 6 seconds, including calls from listeners.

6. Secrets of A Super Successful Introvert: How to (Quietly) Get Your Own Way

Susan Cain, author of ”Quiet: The Power of Introverts” describes her own personal realization of the power of introverts and explains why even social butterflies can benefit from drawing on their soft-spoken side. Includes 6 strategies for ”nourishing the unique strengths that come from your quieter reaches”. From ”O, The Oprah Magazine”, February 2012.

7. Reliability — The Foundation of Any Good Personality Test

Michael Brit, former professor of psychology, broadcasts a podcast about psychology called ”The Psych Files”. In this video episode (Episode 168), he describes the concept of reliability in a concrete and enjoyable way through the classic, but invalid, Ice Cream Personality Test, the Distorted Tunes Test of musical perception, and a test of Achievement Motivation (runs 12 minutes, 6 seconds).

8. Validity — How Can You Tell a Good Test From a Bad One?

Michael Brit, former professor of psychology, broadcasts a podcast about psychology called ”The Psych Files”. In this video episode (Episode 169), he describes the concept of validity in a concrete and enjoyable way through the classic, but invalid, Ice Cream Personality Test, the Distorted Tunes Test of musical perception, and others. ”High validity is what separates the many fun-to-take but essentially meaningless tests you’ll find on the web, and a truly solid test of your personality” (runs 14 minutes, 40 seconds).

9. Writing and Revising

Looking for a thorough writing guide for you or your students? ”Over the past 20 years of teaching, writing, and editing, I have compiled a set of tips, tricks, and pet peeves that I share with students and colleagues. I’ve decided to make this writing guide more widely available in case others will find it useful. The emphasis is on scientific writing, but the same principles apply to most non-fiction (including journalism).”

10. The Human Brain: Hardwired to Sin

Read about what neuroscientists have discovered about how the brain processes lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, wrath, and greed using brain scanning techniques. From ”Focus Magazine”, February 2012.

11. In Mental Illness, Women Internalize and Men Externalize

According to recent research, ”Women are more likely to develop anxiety and mood disorders such as depression, while men’s mental health issues are more likely to involve antisocial personality and substance abuse disorders.” Read the summary here in ”LiveScience”, August 19, 2011.

12. What Makes You Happy? It May Depend on Your Age

According to recent research, ”People’s happiness levels change with age, an idea reflected in personal experiences and public opinion polls, but a new study shows that much of that change may boil down to how people define happiness itself. Whereas happiness in younger people is often related to excitement, for older people, contentment was associated with a happy existence, the researchers found.” Read all about it in this summary from ”LiveScience,” August 2, 2011.

13. Facebook is Not Such a Good Thing for Those With Low Self-Esteem

”In theory, the social networking website Facebook could be great for people with low self-esteem. Sharing is important for improving friendships. But in practice, people with low self-esteem seem to behave counterproductively, bombarding their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to a new study” in ”Psychological Science” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily,” February 1, 2012.

14. Cloning Fido: Playing ”God” With ”Dog”

This brief episode from the ABC News program ”Night Line” describes how a woman had her beloved pet cloned by a South Korean company. With a high failure rate of clones and the questionable treatment of laboratory animals, the piece raises important questions, including: Do identical genes make for an identical dog? How are surrogate dogs treated after they give birth? Is it ethical to swap one animal’s life for another? Does the high number of failed attempts justify the few successful ones? Originally aired January 6, 2012 (runs 5 minutes, 48 seconds).

15. Powerful People Feel Taller Than They Really Are

According to research by Michelle Duguid and Jack Goncalo published in ”Psychological Science”, December 2011, participants assigned to act as a leader on experimental task increased their self-reported height by about an inch.

16. Self-Portrait in a Skewed Mirror

”You’re more than the star and author of your own life story. You’re also the spin master. How you tell your tale reveals whether you see yourself as victim or victor, even when your story veers from the life you lived”.
By Carlin Flora, for ”Psychology Today” (published on January 01, 2006 – last reviewed on January 18, 2012).

17. Your Life Story in Metaphors

Susan Krauss Whitbourne writes about the metaphors we use to describe our lives: ”Think about how you’ve gotten where you are in life, and where you hope or plan to go. What metaphor comes to mind? Does your life have a shape or a direction? Is it an arrow (upward or downward), a circle, or a series of steps? How about the life of other people you know? Is the metaphor you’d apply to yourself the same as those you’d apply to other people?” in this article from ”Psychology Today”, published May 3, 2011.

18. The Inside Story

”Telling stories is not just the oldest form of entertainment, it’s the highest form of consciousness. The need for narrative is embedded deep in our brains. Increasingly, success in the information age demands that we harness the hidden power of stories. Here’s what you need to know to tell a killer tale” in this story by Peter Guber, for ”Psychology Today”, (published on March 15, 2011 – last reviewed on January 23, 2012).

19. Why We Write

”Psychologists Jerome Bruner and Henri Zukier suggest that our minds have two general ways of taking in the world. When we perceive the world in paradigmatic mode, we act like scientists, connecting facts, looking for patterns and universal principles through which we categorize and understand our environment. The narrative mode on the other hand, is what allows us to endow life with meaning through the stories we tell about it.” Read about the power of writing our own narrative in this article by Mindy Greenstein for ”Psychology Today”, January 12, 2012.

20. A Winning Way to Get Started Writing Your Life Story

Susan Heitler provides this story-starting ideas to help you get in touch with your own life story. From ”Psychology Today”, January 18, 2012.

21. Are You The Star of Your Own Story?

Our lives are works in progress and masterpieces of story telling, so we should embrace our own biographies, according to Kim Schneiderman, in this article for ”Psychology Today”, January 2, 2012.

22. Who’s Writing Your Script? You May Be Surprised

Are you stuck in an ill-fitting role? A poorly written script? Self-reflection and questioning of where our scripts come from can help us to live more in line with our authentic selves according to this article by Kim Schneiderman for ”Psychology Today”, October 17, 2011.

23. Create Real Stories as Believable as Fiction

You can ”write more compelling creative non-fiction using novelist’s tricks” according to this article by Susan K. Perry for ”Psychology Today”, January 15, 2009.

24. Favorite Link Revisited: This Emotional Life

From the website: “The Emmy Award-winning team of Vulcan Productions and the producers of NOVA have created a three-part series that explores improving our social relationships, learning to cope with depression and anxiety, and becoming more positive, resilient individuals. Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, talks with experts about the latest science on what makes us tick and how we can find support for the emotional issues we all face. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research along with revealing comments from celebrities like Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Richard Gere. The first episode, Family, Friends & Lovers, looks at the importance of relationships and why they are central to our emotional well-being (includes an excellent overview of Attachment theory). In the second episode, Facing Our Fears, we look at emotions that are commonly regarded as obstacles to happiness — such as anger, fear, anxiety, and despair (includes a discussion of Anger, Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Stress and Anxiety). The last episode, Rethinking Happiness, explores happiness. It is so critical to our well-being, and, yet, it remains such an elusive goal for many of us” (includes Creativity and Flow, Forgiveness, Happiness, Humor, Meditation, Resilience). See more about the people and stories featured on the series, view selected video clips, learn more about the topics mentioned, find information about resources and support organizations, and purchase a DVD.