Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 5, Number 6, February, 2011

February 8, 2011

Hello and welcome to the fifty-fourth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,192 other interesting links related to personality, please visit us.

Snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, deadlines, classes, and exams . . . If you’re feeling a bit anxious these days, you’re in good company. One psychologist claims ”The average High School kid today has same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s”. Have Americans become more anxious? Check out our second link below to see this provocative article that is sure to spark discussion among your students (and colleagues around the water cooler). Then follow the third link for a possible ”cure”.

We also continue our new feature: Favorite Links Revisited. In this feature we’ll be calling your attention to some of our favorite links from Personality Pedagogy that are worthy of a second look. Have you ever heard Freud’s voice? This month, we feature two links to the same (redundancy is good) 2-minute audio clip from the BBC recording of Freud describing psychoanalysis in his own words.

Though the groundhog promises a quick end to the winter, we promise interesting links to keep you and your students up-to-date and entertained until the spring comes.

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 an RSS (”Really Simple Syndication”) 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. It’s Not The Job Market

Is it true that ”The average High School kid today has same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s”? Have Americans become more anxious? Slate writer Taylor Clark considers the three real reasons why Americans are more anxious than ever before: loss of a sense of community, information overload, and misplaced faith in ”feel-goodism”. Posted January 31, 2011.

3. Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in Eight Weeks

”Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress” according to a study in the January 30 issue of ”Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging” and summarized here in ”Science Daily”, January 21, 2011.

4. Amygdala Volume and Social Network Size in Humans
Summarizes recent research which found that the size of the amygdala is correlated with the size and complexity of social networks (like Facebook). Find a blog post that discusses the findings and possible alternative explanations here.

5. The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology
The early modules of this program ”The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction—developed with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)” provide a good, interactive overview of parts of the brain, brain functioning, and biochemistry, suitable for a personality class. For example, ”Lesson 1: The Brain: What’s Going On in There” includes a brief video describing what a PET scan is and how it’s done.

6. Born Gay, Born This Way: A Photo Blog

A photo essay from NPR about the ”Born This Way” blog (see below). From February 2, 2011.

7. Born This Way
This blog is a ”photo/essay project for gay adults (male and female) to submit pictures from their childhood (roughly ages 2 to 12) – with snapshots that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves.” According to the blog’s editor, ”So, some of the pix here feature gay boys with feminine traits, and some gay girls with masculine traits. And even more gay kids with NONE of those traits. Just like real life, these gay kids come in all shades and layers of masculine and feminine. And this project is not about furthering stereotypes.” The result is often charming, thoughtful, and very real.

8. Activity: The Complexity of Sexual Orientation
The Understanding Prejudice website has a special section on college classroom activities. In this activity, students fill out a Sexual Orientation Identification sheet (on the website) which describes the behaviors and attractions of various hypothetical people. Students must decide if the person described is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight. The items are designed to provoke differences of opinion to spark a discussion as to what defines sexual orientation: behavior, desire, self-identification, or some combination of all three. Includes discussion questions.

9. Where women of India rule the roost and men demand gender equality: The Khasi people of north-eastern India are a matrilineal society and some men aren’t happy
In this ethnic minority community in a remote part of India, children take their mother’s surname, the youngest daughter inherits, and once married, men live in their mother-in-law’s home following her orders. Read about this matrilineal system, how anthropologists believe it started, and the freedoms women here have compared to their sisters elsewhere in India.

10. Men Are Now From Venus, Women From Mars
According to a new survey finds that single men want babies and commitment and women want independence in their relationships. What people are looking for in love relationships, the percent of people who want to may, and where people look for love has changed over time as well. Read about the findings in this article in ”LiveScience”, February 4, 2011.

11. The Social Web’s Big New Theme for 2011: Multiple Identities for Everyone!
With the many tools and contexts available now on line for people to define and express themselves there is an increase in the number of users who construct multiple online presences. Pundits predict that this ”splintered approach” is likely to increase. What this means for identity, friendships, and social identity is up for debate.

12. Other People May Experience More Misery Than You Realise
Summarizes research which suggests that we underestimate other people’s experience of negative emotions and put on an unrealistically happy front because we think that’s the norm. ”British Psychological Society Research Digest”, January 24, 2011. Jordan, A., Monin, B., Dweck, C., Lovett, B., John, O., and Gross, J. (2010). Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating the Prevalence of Others’ Negative Emotions. ”Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (1)”, 120-135.

13. Brooke Greenberg: The Girl who Doesn’t Age.
Brooke Greenberg is 17 years old but at 16 pounds and 30 inches she looks more like an infant. Scientists are trying to understand this “Syndrome X” which afflicts Brooke and only 3 other people in the entire world. Though it appears that her “Syndrome X” was coded (or mis-coded) in her genes, genetic testing revealed that her genes are perfectly normal. Scientists are stumped. Could the key to Brooke’s syndrome be at the level of introns, parts of genes that regulate other genes (exons) rather than code directly for characteristics? New research in this field of epigenetics, which studies changes in phenotype (genetic expression) by process other than changes in the genetic sequence, may explain this condition.

14. Double Visionary
Describes the research of Nancy Segal on the personality of twins. Segal’s work suggests that ”genes predispose individuals to seek certain environments and experiences during development . . . [much like] a faithful squire, leading us toward people, places, and events that bring us pleasure and away from those that don’t.”

15. Being Poor Can Suppress Children’s Genetic Potential
”Our findings suggest that socioeconomic disparities in cognitive development start early . . . For children from poorer homes, genetic influences on changes in cognitive ability were close to zero. For children from wealthier homes, genes accounted for about half of the variation in cognitive changes.” According to this 2003 article from ”Psychological Science,” Volume 14(6), 623-628, by Eric Turkheimer, Andreana Haley, Mary Waldron, Brian D’Onofrio,and Irving I. Gottesman and summarized here.

16. Depression Linked To Your Genetic Double Helix DNA
Summarizes the results of a meta-analysis which supports earlier findings that ”there is a link between sensitivity to stress and a short allele in those who had been mistreated as children and in people suffering with specific, severe medical conditions. Only a marginal relationship was found in those who had undergone stressful life events [without the short allele]. ” Karg, K., Burmeister, M., Shedden, K., Sen, S. (2011). The Serotonin Transporter Promoter Variant (5-HTTLPR), Stress, and Depression Meta-analysis Revisited Evidence of Genetic Moderation. ”Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online January 3, 2011.

17. Mortal Magnates: Research shows entrepreneurs are pretty much like the rest of us
Despite McClelland’s classic (1961) research which identified a entrepreneurial personality, psychologists have not been able to agree on what an entrepreneur is, much less how to measure his or her personality. Kelly Shaver, leading a team of researchers including sociologists, management theorists, economists, finance professors, and psychologists, new research is discovering that entrepreneurs are not so different from others, except for a greater belief that they will succeed. Read about their research here, in the article from the February 2011, APS ”Observer”.

18. A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored
”Narcissists, much to the surprise of many experts, are in the process of becoming an endangered species . . . The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013, and known as DSM-5) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition. Narcissistic personality disorder is the most well-known of the five, and its absence has caused the most stir in professional circles.” Read all about the controversy in this article by Charles Zanor in ”The New York Times”, November 29, 2010.

19. Reflecting on Narcissism
On the one hand, ”You can look at individual scores of narcissism, you can look at data on lifetime prevalence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you can look at related cultural trends, and they all point to one thing . . . Narcissism is on the rise.” On the other, ”Kids today are remarkably similar to previous generations, at least in terms of their traits and behaviors.” Read about what current research has to say about narcissism and American culture today.

20. A Favorite Link Revisited: Sigmund Freud’s Voice
Toward the end of his life, Freud was asked by the BBC to provide a brief statement about his decades-long career in psychoanalysis. He offered a succinct overview in 1938 which you can hear for yourself in his voice: ”I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend and by my own efforts, I discovered some important and new facts about the unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science, Psycho-Analysis, a part of psychology and a new method of treatment of the neuroses. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavoury. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psycho-Analytic Association. But this struggle is not yet over. Sigmund Freud.” Find a second link here. (2 minutes)