Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 5, January, 2012

January 11, 2012

Hello and welcome to the sixty-fifth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,376 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month National Geographic is running an article on Twins: nature, nurture, and the so-called ”third way” of epigenetics. As researcher Danielle Reed explains ”Mother Nature writes some things in pencil and some things in pen. Things written in pen you can’t change. That’s DNA. But things written in pencil you can. That’s epigenetics. Now that we’re actually able to look at the DNA and see where the pencil writings are, it’s sort of a whole new world.” The article is a fascinating read for students and teachers alike and the accompanying photo montages of twins by two different photographers will liven up your class materials.

Also this month, in the aftermath of the peak toy season, there has been a big controversy over gender-neutral toys now being re-designed and marketed to girls. Yes, the Lego building blocks loved by children all over are now getting feminine figures, cafe and salon play scenes, and a make-over in shades of pink and purple. See young Riley’s rant about such marketing ploys, a very thoughtful op-ed article on the issue, and a vintage ad for Legos from the 1980s below. These materials can be used to illustrate gender stereotyping and gender socialization or to give your students food-for-thought for a lively classroom debate on the topic.

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. A Thing or Two About Twins

From the website: ”They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ—despite having the same DNA—could reveal a great deal about all of us.” Good explanation of epigenetics from ”National Geographic”, January 2012 by Peter Miller.

3. The Photographic Fascination With Twins

Photographer Martin Schoeller capture these portraits of three sets of identical twins to illustrate a recent story in National Geographic: ”In Schoeller’s portraits, eyes are like an open book. His portraits are studies of the face’s physical topography, but also of our irrepressible emotions — how they translate to the twinkle of an eye or the wrinkle on a forehead.”

4. Photo Gallery: A Thing or Two About Twins

From the website: ”Photographer Jodi Cobb captures the interaction between twins — and how they can be both alike and different — in this photo gallery.”

5. Should the World of Toys Be Gender Free?

Peggy Orenstein evaluates the pros and cons of gender targeted toys and marketing campaigns in this op ed article from the ”New York Times”, December 29, 2011.

6. Riley on Marketing

Riley Maida, age 4, has had enough of pink princesses being marketed to girls and super heroes being marketed to boys. She speaks out for the cessation of gendered toy marketing and the elimination of gendered stereotypes. Also check out this ABC News profile on Riley.

7. Vintage Lego Ad and article on Social Media Backlash against the new Legos

8. Resilience: The Ghost Boy

According to this uplifting story in the ”Mail Online”, from July 6, 2011, ”Martin Pistorius was a happy, healthy boy – until at the age of 12 a mystery illness left him in a virtual coma. Doctors never found the cause of his condition – even his mother gave up hope. Yet in 1992, when Martin was 16, a miracle happened: he started to regain consciousness. But he was still trapped in his broken body, unable to communicate. Slowly, however, he regained some control of his head and arms, and began to use a computer to write messages and operate a synthetic voice. Here, Martin tells the story of his remarkable recovery – and how he came to find love, a home and a job in England…”

9. Virginia Tech Shootings: Research on Post-Traumatic Stress

According to research by professors Michael Hughes and Russell T. Jones, 15.4 percent of Virginia Tech students experienced high levels of posttraumatic stress three to four months following the shootings. Their research is published in ”Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 3, 2011.

10. The Great Parking Debate: A Research Methods Case Study

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science presents this vignette to teaching principles of hypothesis testing: ”Two friends debate whether people leave their parking spaces faster if others are waiting. They decide to see if they can design a study to test their ideas. In this interrupted case study, students develop a research question and hypothesis and consider how to test a hypothesis. Students read about what researchers have done to answer the research question and identify and evaluate different research designs. Students are also asked to evaluate data. Developed for a use in an introductory psychology course to cover terms and concepts related to research methods, the case could be used in other introductory science classes, early in research methods courses, or in upper-level social science courses.” Includes teaching notes and answer key.

11. Narcissists Look Like Good Leaders — But They Aren’t

”Narcissists rise to the top. That’s because other people think their qualities—confidence, dominance, authority, and self-esteem—make them good leaders.” However, this is not the case according to research by Barbora Nevicka and others published in ”Psychological Science”, September 2011, and summarized here.

12. Existentialtainment

A compendium of jokes, cartoons, and examples from the media which illustrate aspects of existentialism.

13. Best Marriage Equality Commercial Ever

This Australian public service announcement takes a novel and moving approach in its support for marriage equality.

14. WingClips: Movie Clips that Illustrate and Inspire

Inspirational movie clips for use in school, church, or other organization. The site is organized by movie title, scripture, category, and theme, and is searchable. Clips can be streamed (but are imprinted with a watermark) or can be downloaded. Most are free; some are available for a small fee.

15. Laughter Has Positive Impact on Vascular Function

”Watching a funny movie or sitcom that produces laughter has a positive effect on vascular function and is opposite to that observed after watching a movie that causes mental stress according to research” by Michael Miller and colleagues presented at the ”European Society of Cardiology Congress” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 28, 2011.

16. Three Facts You Might Not Know About Freud and His Cocaine Addiction

Writer Margarita Tartakovsky for ”World of Psychology” presents these three little-known facts about Freud’s cocaine addiction from Howard Markel’s book ”An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug Cocaine”.

17. Sex Differences in Mental Illness

”Women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, while men tend toward substance abuse or antisocial disorders, according to a new study” published in the ”Journal of Abnormal Psychology” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 18, 2011.

18. Flawed Logic of Segregating Boys and Girls for Education Purposes Based on Alleged Brain Differences

According to research by Lise Eliot and colleagues, ”There is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately. Her review reveals fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward by proponents of single-sex schools to justify the need of teaching teach boys and girls separately. Eliot shows that neuroscience has identified few reliable differences between boys’ and girls’ brains relevant to learning or education.” This research was published in ”Sex Roles” and is summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 18, 2011.

19. Consumer Self-Esteem While Shopping

”People who don’t feel positive about their appearance are less likely to buy an item they’re trying on if they see a good-looking shopper or salesperson wearing the same thing” according to research by Darren Dahl, Jennifer Argo, and Andrea Morales, published in the ”Journal of Consumer Research” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, August 20, 2011.

20. Favorite Link Revisited: Psychology Cartoons

Spice up your lectures with one of these classic single-panel cartoons of Sydney Harris. In this online collection of science cartoons you will find references to Freud, Rorschach, brain dominance, Skinner, existentialism, and more.

Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 3, November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Hello and welcome to the sixty-third Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,348 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month we feature four links on Narcissism, including one of our favorite links revisited. In this issue you’ll also find links related to the five factors, genetics, gender, and Facebook friends and the brain! All in all, an issue sure to spark your and your students’ interest in the latest research findings in personality.

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 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 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. Searching for Meaning

Existential-humanistic psychologists hope to promote the idea that therapy can change not only minds but lives. By Michael Price, from the APA ”Monitor”, November 2011, 42(10), print version p. 58.

3. Those With A Sweet Tooth Usually Have a Sweeter Personality

”People who have a preference for eating sweet things tend to have sweeter dispositions [higher in Agreeableness] and are more likely to help people in need, compared to those who opt for savory foods or nothing at all, researchers from North Dakota State University and Gettysburg College reported in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” ” and summarized here in ”Medical News Today”, October 12, 2011.

4. Facebook Friends Predicted by Size of Brain Structures

Brain regions associated with creating memories of names and faces and interpretation of social cues appear to be larger in people who have more friends on Facebook according to research by Geraint Rees published in the ”Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” and summarized here in ”LifeScience”, October 18, 2011.

5. Personality Plays Role in Body Weight

People who are high in Neuroticism and low in Conscientiousness are more likely than others to go through cycles of gaining and losing weight throughout their lives according to research by Angelina Sutin and Luigi Ferrucci published in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” and summarized here.

6. Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Understanding Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation may be particularly powerful because it draws on attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation and sense of self according to research by Britta Holzel published in Perspectives on Psychological Science and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, October 31, 2011.

7. At What Age Do Girls Prefer Pink?

According to research by Vannessa LoBue and Judy DeLoache, children’s color preferences — and aversions — emerge between the ages of 2 and 3 just as they are beginning to be aware of gender. Their research was published in the ”Journal of Developmental Psychology,” September 2011, and is summarized here in The British Psychological Society ”Research Digest”, September 5, 2011.

8. NPR: Radio Diaries

The NPR project Radio Diaries encourages teenagers, seniors, prison inmates and others whose voices are rarely heard to document their lives for public radio. Their stories are often powerful, surprising, intimate, and timeless, illustrating many aspects of the self, including self-concept, self-esteem, and social identity.

9. McDonald’s Advertisements and Culture: ”I’m Loving It”
The McDonald’s famous ”I’m Loving it” campaign looks different, depending on the culture in which the ad is targeted. For example, in India the ad features more collectivistic values: A father and son share a bonding moment. In the individualistic United States, the ads most often feature a person alone. Würtz (2005) explains all about cultural differences and advertisements and this companion website includes many illustrations of McDonald’s Ads from China, Japan, India, and the United States.

10. When It’s Good To Be Bad

Acknowledging our Jungian shadow can help us become more creative according to Susan O’Doherty in this article from ”Psychology Today”, October 16, 2009.

11.Happiness Depends On Who You Know and Your Goals, Study of College Students Suggests

Introverted and extroverted college students use different strategies to be happy according to research by Bernardo Carducci and colleagues and summarized in ”ScienceDaily”, August 30, 2011.

12. Parents’ Stress Leaves Lasting Marks on Children’s Genes

”Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Child & Family Research Institute have shown that parental stress during their children’s early years can leave an imprint on their sons’ or daughters’ genes — an imprint that lasts into adolescence and may affect how these genes are expressed later in life” according to research published in ”Child Development” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily”, August 30, 2011.

13. Is Culture Behind Men’s Better Spatial Reasoning?

New research by Moshe Hoffman, Uri Gneezy and John List suggests that the gender gap in spatial skills maybe be partially due to culture according to research published in the ”Proceedings of the National Academy of Science” and summarized here in ”Discover Magazine” online, 2011.

14. Parents Need An Attitude Adjustment to Improve Their Children’s Homework Motivation

”Parents who want to improve their child’s motivation to complete homework this school year need to change their own attitude and behavior,” providing more structure to improve children’s perceived competence and feelings of warmth to increase perceived relatedness.

15. The Incredibly Seductive Pull of a Very Skilled Narcissist

Psychologist Samuel Lopez De Victoria discusses 7 characteristics which can make a narcissist both appealing and dangerous to others including charm, storytelling ability, believability, wisdom, acting ability and others.

16. Narcissists’ Overconfidence May Hide Low Self-Esteem

”Narcissists may seem to love themselves, but a new study finds that narcissistic self-aggrandizement may hide deep feelings of inferiority” according to research by Erin Myers as published in the ”Journal of Research in Personality” and summarized here in ”LiveScience”, October 20, 2011.

17. Narcissists Already Know What You Think of Them, But Do They Care?

Research suggests that narcissists know that others do not share their inflated self-view and think they have a problem but they often choose to do nothing about it. This suggests that narcissism is a character disorder rather than a personality disorder according to this summary by David DiSalvo for the ”Psychology Today” Neuronarrative blog, October 31, 2011.

18. Favorite Link Revisited: Is Your Boss a Narcissist?

According to research by Amy Brunell and colleagues published in ”Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin”, December, 2008, and briefly summarized here, chances are he or she is.

Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 6, Number 2, October, 2011

October 18, 2011

Hello and welcome to the sixty-second Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,322 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month we have a record number of links to share with you, everything from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Magic Mushrooms, with Jeopardy, comedians, laughter, narcissism, the upside of pessimism, and the very first mention of Sigmund Freud in ”The New York Times” in between.

Know somebody high in Neuroticism? This month we are pleased to bring you a rare upside to this trait: People high in Neuroticism tend to lose themselves in movies more than people low in Neuroticism. This means that they experience movies more richly, including both the positive emotions of happy and uplifting movies and the negative emotions of sad and scary movies.

While we’re on the topic of Neuroticism, while you may think of Woody Allen or Richard Lewis when it comes to neurotic comedians, it turns out that comedians are not higher in Neuroticism than non-comedians. They are, however, lower in Agreeableness and higher in Openness.

Speaking of Openness, people who have taken hallucinogenic mushrooms (!) do indeed experience more Openness. This bit of folk wisdom left over from the 1960s now has scientific backing. Further, this change in Openness may last up to a year later. Not that we’re advocating hallucinogens, but this study is sure to spark discussion in your classes about the ethics of research, how experience can change personality, and the consistency of personality over time.

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 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 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. Self-Promotion: Why Arnold’s Self-Statue Is Very Serious. Really.

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a larger-than-life bronze statue of himself in his body-building days as part of a museum dedicated to Schwarzenegger in his hometown of Thal, Austria. Is this an example of egoism or merely the latest example of self-promotion harkening back to the ancients? From ”LiveScience”, October 2, 2011, by Stephanie Pappas.

3. Life’s Extremes: Early Bird vs. Night Owls

A good overview of circadian rhythm and the chronotypes of morning larks and night owls including genetic influences and sleep-phase disorders. From ”LiveScience”, October 2, 2011, by Adam Hadhazy.

4. Magic Mushrooms May Permanently Alter Personality

Even just one dose of hallucinogenic mushrooms can alter a person’s level of Openness for more than a year according to research by Katherine MacLean and colleagues as summarized in ”LiveScience”, September 29, 2011 by Stephanie Pappas.

5. Neurotics Experience More Immersion When Watching Films

People who score high in Neuroticism tend to feel more absorbed in films, both enjoying comedies more and horror and sad films less than people lower in Neuroticism. This, according to research by David Weibel and colleagues published this month in ”Personality and Individual Differences” and summarized here.

6. Neuroticism Influences Brain Activity During Anticipation and Experience of Pain

Neuroticism ”significantly affects brain processing during pain, as well as during the anticipation of pain”, according to a new study in ”Gastroenterology” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily”, September 20, 2011.

7. Pessimism — It Could Save Your Mind

Summarizes research by O’Mara, McNulty, and Karney (2011) in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” which found that optimism led to increased mental health when participants were faced with less stressful situations, but that pessimism was more adaptive in the face of highly stressful situations. From ”Brain Blogger”, October 11, 2011 by Radhika Takru.

8. First Mention: Sigmund Freud, 1909

From the website: ”Sigmund Freud visited the United States only once, in 1909, to give a series of lectures. ”The New York Times” found nothing about the visit worth mentioning except his departure. ”Prof. Sigmund Freud” appears on Page 9 on Sept. 21, along with ”Dr. C. G. Jung,” in a list of passengers sailing to Bremen, Germany, aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse. It was the first time the newspaper mentioned his name […] A search of The Times database from the early 1920s until Freud’s death yields nearly 300 references to him and almost 1,000 to psychoanalysis. ”

9. How Not to Spot Personality Test Fakers

Can response times reveal test fakers? Maybe not. This notion was tested in research by Mindy Shoss and Michael Strube and summarized here in ”Research Digest”, September 14, 2011.

10. US Views on Gays, Lesbians, Shift Sharply

According to the 2010 update of the General Social Survey (GSS) at NORC at the University of Chicago, not only do a plurality of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, but they overwhelmingly support freedom of expression and basic civil liberties for gays and lesbians. This article summarizes these findings and includes two graphs which illustrate this trend toward increased tolerance over time.

11. Gender Non-Conformity in a Tide Ad

This ad depicts a mom who is exasperated at her daughter’s non-conformity with gender roles. While the mom tries to be supportive of her daughter’s non-traditional efforts, her obvious discomfort illustrates that gendered expectations for behavior still run strong.

12. It’s Ok to Be Neither: Teaching That Supports Gender-Variant Children

Melissa Bollow Tempel discusses her realization that just as gender training begins early, teaching about gender expectations and breaking down gender stereotypes should begin early as well. In this article Tempel describes how she changed her classroom to be more supportive of gender variance.

13.How to Get the Most Out of Studying

Stephen Chew, Samford University, created this series of 5 videos to help students. Grounded in his own research on using cognitive principles to improve teaching and learning, Chew presents basic principles of how people learn and tries to correct counterproductive beliefs so that students can improve their learning by designing their own effective study strategies and avoiding ineffective strategies.

14. Psychologists Discover A Gene’s Link to Optimism, Self-Esteem

According to research by Shelley E. Taylor and colleagues, and summarized here, researchers have identified a gene linked to optimism, self-esteem, and mastery. From ”Science Daily”, September 14, 2011.

15. Why We Dream

The BBC produced this video documentary on dreams: ”People who study dreaming to find out why we dream have found several potential answers: they help keep us asleep, they contribute to good mental health, and they help us find answers to questions we seek. But what do they mean, and can we control them? This excellent documentary interviews scientists, dreamers, and people with sleep and dream disorders to find out more about this always fascinating subject.” (Runs 58 minutes and 24 seconds).

16.Life’s Extremes: Outgoing vs. Shy

Summarizes research on early temperaments related to extraversion,  introversion, and shyness. Includes an excellent graphic summarizing these differences. From ”LifeScience”, September 25, 2011.

17. What’s On Your Genes?

Written for kids, this overview of genetics nonetheless does an excellent job of explaining Mendellian inheritance and epigenetics.

18. Goodness Has Nothing to Do With It

This article from ”The Economist” summarizes research by Daniel Bartels and David Pizzaro which suggests that people with a utilitarian outlook tend to be Machiavellian or psychopathic.

19. It’s All About Autonomy: Consumers React Negatively When Prompted to Think About Money

From the webpage: ”Whether they are aware of it or not, consumers dislike being reminded of money — so much that they will rebel against authority figures, according to a new study in the ”Journal of Consumer Research” and summarized here in ”ScienceDaily”, September 15, 2011.

20. Laughter is a Physical, Not a Mental Thing

From the summary: ”Laughter is regularly promoted as a source of health and well being, but it has been hard to pin down exactly why laughing until it hurts feels so good. The answer, reports Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, is not the intellectual pleasure of cerebral humor, but the physical act of laughing”. Read all about it here in ”3 Quarks Daily”, September 14, 2011.

21. Gender and the Narcissist

An overview of gender differences in narcissism and the finding that most narcissists are male.

22. Existential Therapy

An overview of existential theory and therapy as practiced by Rollo May and Irvin Yalom. Contains quotes, movie recommendations, training, comparisons with the humanistic tradition, and more.

23. The Strange Situation

Presents video of a mother and secure child going through Ainsworth’s Strange Situation. A voice over explains each part of the Strange Situation protocol, to which the baby reacts (runs 5 minutes and 24 seconds).

24. The Pursuit of Happiness

With the philosophy that happiness is ”understandable, obtainable, and teachable” this website presents a history of the philosophy of happiness and finding in the science of happiness along with teaching resources including syllabi, mini-lessons and PowerPoint presentations on the science and philosophy of happiness. They also welcome submissions.

25. Psychology Jeopardy

Stephen Wurst, SUNY Oswego, created these ”Jeopardy”-style games to use for review sessions with your classes. Boards are organized by theme and include: David Bowie Songs, Bruce Springsteen Songs, WordPlay, Broadway Musicals, Classic Jeopardy Categories, Dr. Strangelove and more. You play directly on the Super Teacher Tools website (see below) by choosing the number of teams and amount of time to answer questions. Correct answers are given and the site includes a scoreboard. See the Super Teacher Tools website (below) for a template you can use to make a Jeopardy review game with your own questions.

26. Super Teacher Tools

This site is ”dedicated to providing technology tools for teaching that are quick and easy to download, learn, and start using in your classroom.” Includes review games, classroom management software, and other miscellaneous tools for educators.

27. Personality: Funny in the Head

Does it take a special personality to be a stand-up comedian? Despite some notable exceptions, comedians are not more Neurotic than other people. They are, however, more Open to Experience and less Agreeable according to research by Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller summarized here.

28. Favorite Link Revisited: The Trait Paper Assignment

From the abstract: ”A personality trait-based term paper assignment that is appropriate for use in personality psychology courses and that is designed to foster critical thinking skills is introduced. The extent to which the trait questions correspond to generic critical thinking questions is considered, the specific thinking skills induced by each trait question are discussed, and potential limitations of the assignment are noted. Preliminary data are also presented which suggest that the trait-based term paper assignment stimulates critical thinking and enhances knowledge about personality traits. It is hoped that the ideas presented and issues discussed in the present article will encourage academic psychologists from all subdisciplines to develop writing assignments that foster critical thinking skills.” This assignment is not rooted in a particular model of traits and so is adaptable to any model. From Hittner, J. B. (1999). Fostering critical thinking in personalty psychology. ”Journal of Instructional Psychology”, 26, 92-97.