Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 5, Number 7, March, 2011

March 17, 2011

Hello and welcome to the fifty-fifth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,212 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

This month, we are taking time out of our Spring Break to bring you this newsletter (luckily for us, laptops travel well). In conjunction with our new feature Favorite Links Revisited, we take a multi-cultural and multi-species look at the classic mirror self-recognition test. Check out the links below including videos of elephants and dolphins trying to figure out what that red mark is and judge for yourself if this is self-referential behavior or something else.

Even if this isn’t your Spring break, spring is certainly just a few weeks away! 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. Self-Handicapping and Procrastination

Summarizes research on self-handicapping and procrastination which suggests that even though procrastination is often used as a self-handicapping strategy, they are not the same thing. While people use self-handicapping to protect their self-esteem, chronic procrastinators may just be delaying a aversive task rather than protecting themselves. Procrastinators and self-handicappers may have different motives for engaging in the same behavior.

3. Is This Your Brain on God?

According to NPR which created this interactive website: ”More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim they have touched the spiritual — from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues to evolve.” The information is presented in five parts, each revolving around a topic such as The God Chemical, The God-Spot, Spiritual Virtuosos, The Biology of Belief, and Near-Death Experiences, including brain images and interviews with believers and skeptics.

4. 25 Strategies for Increasing Interactivity in Virtual Classrooms

The Thiagi Gameletter, produced by the Thiagi Group, Inc., which specializes in ”seriously fun activities for trainers, facilitators, performance consultants, and managers” presents this special list of 25 fun and effective strategies to help you move away from traditional ways of providing online content. Some of their ideas include Assessment-Based Learning Activities, Brain-Pick Activity, Case Method, Interactive Video Watching, Graphics Games and much more.

5. Build An Online Experiment for Free

Michael Britt, of ”The Psych Files” Podcast, created this video presentation of how to use and Google Forms to create an online experiment for free. Perfect for class projects; may not be powerful enough for more extensive projects. Britt presented this work at the 2010 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.

6. Seven Billion: Are You Typical?

In the year 2011, the worldwide human population will reach 7 billion people. As part of their year-long series on world population, ”National Geographic Magazine” put together this 2 minute, 55 second video identifying the typical person and inspiring us all to think about how our choices affect others on the planet.

7. On Road to Recovery, Past Adversity Provides a Map

”New research suggests that resilience may have at least as much to do with how often people have faced adversity in past as it does with who they are — their personality, their genes, for example — or what they’re facing now. That is, the number of life blows a person has taken may affect his or her mental toughness more than any other factor” according to research by Roxane Cohen Silver and colleagues, published in the ”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” (2011) and summarized in this ”New York Times” article January 3, 2011, by Benedict Carey.

8. Kye Allums: Transgender man playing NCAA women’s basketball

Kye Allums, a biological female, took the bold step of changing her outward identity — her name and use of masculine pronouns — to match her inward feelings of being a man. George Washington University’s Women’s basketball team has accepted his decision and NCAA rules allow him to continue to play. Read about his story in this summary from ””, November 1, 2010.

9. Cross-Cultural Reflections on the Mirror Self-Recognition Test

The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog urges caution when extrapolating Western research findings to other cultures. While early studies suggested that children in non-western cultures were delayed in self-recognition, better-designed research found that they were merely more compliant or timid than western children, failing to question the researcher’s intentions by marking their foreheads in a such a strange manner.

10. Dolphins In The Mirror

Diana Reiss at the Baltimore Aquarium illustrate the intelligence — and self-recognition behavior — of dolphins in this brief documentary explaining the work of Reiss and her collogues with dolphins and elephants (runs 5 minutes, 8 seconds).

11. Self-Recognition in Dolphins

Three movies showing dolphins engaging in self-directed behavior after mirror exposure and markings. From Diana Reiss and Lori Marino (2000). Mirror self-recognition in the bottlenose dolphin: A case of cognitive convergence. ”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98(10)”, 5937-5942.

12. Self-Recognition in Elephants

Three movies showing Patty, Maxine, and Happy, three elephants, engaging in self-directed behavior after mirror exposure and markings. From Joshua M. Plotnik, Frans B. M. de Waal and Diana Reiss (2006) Self-recognition in an Asian elephant. ”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(45),” 17053-17057.

13. Favorite Link Revisited: When The Self Emerges: Is that Me in The Mirror?

An overview of the mirror test which remains the best experiment yet developed for examining the emergence of self-concept in infants according to Jeremy Dean in PsyBlog.