Posted on 23-04-2010
Filed Under (Appropriate behavior) by Anita Kelly

Back in the 1990s, when I was teaching Introductory Psychology, I invited my colleague, Jeanne Day, to give a guest lecture on social intelligence. It was so fascinating and good that all 160 students applauded when she finished. She must have felt so appreciated.

The reason I mention this now is that you are about to get the chance to express appreciation for your great professors, as well as to criticize the poor ones, on your Course Evaluation Forms (CIFs). But why should you stop there? If you want to applaud your professor, go ahead. If you want to give a small gift or leave a thank-you note, do it. You will feel really good about yourself for making your professor feel appreciated.

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Posted on 09-04-2010
Filed Under (Overcoming barriers) by Anita Kelly

This week I showed my Personality class some data (from Jean Twenge and her colleagues) that the students already knew about. It turns out that college students’ narcissism, as measured by the Narcissism Personality Inventory, has been steadily rising since 1982.

So what exactly does this mean? Have you youngsters watched one episode too many of Barney? Are you exploiting your roommates and friends more than your parents did back in college?

Jean Twenge has argued that this increase in narcissism is bad news because she has shown that when narcissists get rejected, they lash out aggressively against their rejecters AND innocent bystanders.

But maybe when you’re in college, you are supposed to be a little narcissistic. How else are you supposed to muster the energy to do important things with your life, like start a foundation or write a great book? Was Bill Gates a narcissist when he dropped out of Harvard to eventually head Microsoft and then start a foundation to save millions of children from dying of malaria?

Please let us know what your thoughts are about all this.

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Posted on 02-04-2010
Filed Under (Overcoming barriers) by Anita Kelly

I was at work late this past Wednesday. In honor of Holy Week, there was a sermon on the lawn just outside my office. In it, the priest emphasized the idea that we should transcend superficiality in our lives.

This made me reflect on how it might seem to students like psychology emphasizes exactly the opposite message. After all, psychologists have observed just how much weight people give to little things when deciding whether they want to be friends with us, date us, or even marry us. For example, something as small as your not giving a big enough tip to the waitress on a first date could turn your date off completely.

A solution that I have found for this seeming discrepancy between messages from the Church and from Psychology is as follows: Pay attention to the little things when it comes to other people, and keep the Big Picture in focus for yourself.

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