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This is a lesson I use in my introductory Educational Psychology course to get students to think about the nature of the "self". In my class we read Malcolm Gladwell's (2000) text blink as a companion to our text book. In this class we reenact the 'bedroom study' Gladwell describes in Ch2. Students view photographs of a professors office and are asked to rate their personality along the "Big 5" dimensions. We then compare their ratings with ratings made of the professor's closest friends and relatives. The findings are pretty convincing. However, students are left with a 'bad' taste in their mouth. Even if we can 'reduce' people down to their Big 5 characteristics - is that ALL that comprises their 'self.' At the end of this class, I invite students to generate a list of the kinds of characteristics we generally think comprise our sense of 'self' beyond the Big 5 characteristics.
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