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James C. Kaufman, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

James C. Kaufman, Ph.D.

Professor | University of Connecticut


Dr. Kaufman's research focuses on creativity and educational psychology.


James C. Kaufman is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He is the author/editor of more than 45 books, including Creativity 101 (2nd Edition, 2016) and the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (2nd Edition, with Robert Sternberg; 2019). Kaufman has also published books with his wife, Allison, on animal creativity and pseudoscience and a book about terrible baseball pitchers with his father, Alan.

He has published more than 400 papers, including the Four-C Model of Creativity (with Ron Beghetto) and the study that spawned the “Sylvia Plath Effect.” He is a past president of Division 10 (Society for Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, & the Arts) of the American Psychological Association (APA). James has won many awards, including Mensa’s research award, the Torrance Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, and APA’s Berlyne, Arnheim, and Farnsworth awards. He co-founded two major journals (Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts and Psychology of Popular Media Culture).

Kaufman has tested Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s creativity on CNN, appeared in the hit Australia show Redesign Your Brain, and narrated the comic book documentary Independents. His musical Discovering Magenta played NYC and its cast album is available on CD and most streaming services. Kaufman has blended his theatre and creativity interests in a forthcoming book with composer Dana Rowe, Creating Your Spotlight: Lessons from Harold Hill, Evita, and Hamilton.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Creativity and Personality

Creativity and Equity

Creativity and Meaning

Creativity and Positive Psychology

Education (4)

Yale University: Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology 2001

Yale University: M.Phil., Cognitive Psychology 1998

Yale University: M.S., Cognitive Psychology 1997

University of Southern California: B.A. (cum laude), Psychology (Honors) and Creative Writing 1995

Accomplishments (5)

Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Achievement in Psychology and the Arts (professional)

Awarded by the American Psychological Association, Division 10.

Paul Farnsworth Award for Service (professional)

Awarded by the American Psychological Association, Division 10.

Choice Outstanding Academic Title (professional)

Awarded by the American Library Association.

Award for Excellence in Research (professional)

Awarded by the Mensa Education & Research Foundation and Mensa International, Ltd.

E. Paul Torrance Award, Creativity Division (professional)

Awarded by the National Association for Gifted Children.







Ronald A. Beghetto & James C. Kaufman - Creativity and the Common Core Talking Teaching Creativity in the Common Core Classroom with Dr. Ron Beghetto


Media Appearances (3)

Where does the idea of the tortured poet come from?

WNPR - The Colin McEnroe Show  radio


Taylor Swift’s newest album, The Tortured Poets Department, comes out Friday. So this hour, we are taking a look at the idea of the actual tortured poet. We talk about where the idea of tortured poets came from, learn about the nature of creativity, and hear from a poet about where their inspiration comes from.

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Bluebells in the time of coronavirus

KC Chronicle  online


If you look around, maybe in your own home, maybe in your own driveway, you’ll find creativity. Strolling around the block, I delight in children’s rainbow sidewalk chalk drawings of sunny days and happy messages. Simultaneously, a seventy-something Mill Creek friend, after years of balking, begins writing his family history. University of Connecticut psychology professor James C. Kaufman, an expert in creativity research, in a Psychology Today post (4/9/20), sees people sheltering in place exhibiting “an increase in everyday creativity.” Although he lists a hierarchy of creative achievements, from “the family singing a song from ‘Les Miserables’” to publishing a “book about kiwi cultivation,…it is important not to let such a comparison diminish their value.”

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While rethinking admissions process, consider creativity

The Conversation  


The Turning the Tide report released last week by the Harvard Graduate School of Education has colleges and universities across the country taking a hard look at what many believe is a deeply flawed admissions process. A number of colleges have already been reexamining their admissions process. In September last year, more than 80 leading colleges and universities announced the formation of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, so as to make changes in the admissions process and diversify student bodies...

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Articles (7)

How to nurture creativity in your kids

The Conversation


Parents who want their kids to be more creative may be tempted to enroll them in arts classes or splurge on STEM-themed toys. Those things certainly can help, but as a professor of educational psychology who has written extensively about creativity, I can draw on more than 70 years of creativity research to make additional suggestions that are more likely to be effective – and won’t break your budget.

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Creativity in a Coronavirus World

Psychology Today


These are grim and scary times. A tolerance for ambiguity is often considered to be a hallmark of a creative personality, but the complete uncertainty we are facing would daunt even the most open of people. Like many, I have been trying to seek out silver linings. One of them, I believe, is that we are seeing an increase in everyday creativity. It is important to first note that this benefit is not enjoyed by everyone. The brave workers on the front line—from doctors to people in the supply chain—have less free time, not more. People whose jobs are at risk (or lost) are focused on more immediate needs. But many who are working from home, with no commutes or in-person meetings, find themselves with more time on their hands.

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Intelligence in Childhood and Creative Achievements in Middle-Age: The Necessary Condition Approach


2017 This paper explores longitudinal links between intelligence measured at age 11 (N = 1594) and 13 (N = 255) and creative achievement as tested forty years later (at age 52). Using a dataset from the most recent (fifth: 2015) follow-up to the Warsaw Study (Firkowska et al., 1978), we examined the hypothesis that intelligence forms a necessary-yet-not-sufficient condition for creative achievement. Although ...

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From the Sylvia Plath Effect to Social Justice: Moving Forward With Creativity

European Journal of Psychology

2017 The author contrasts an early research passion, creativity and mental illness, with his current interest in creativity and social justice. Kaufman’s initial research revolved around the Sylvia Plath Effect, yet was insensitive to broader implications or concerns. As his thinking about creativity has evolved, he is currently more focused on a more positive use for creativity – namely, how creativity can help issues of fairness and equity.

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Measuring the Muses: Validating the Kaufman Domains of Creativity Scale (K-DOCS).

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts

2017 The Kaufman Domains of Creativity Scale (K-DOCS) is a self-report, domain-specific measure assessing creativity in 5 domains: Everyday, Scholarly, Performance, Science, and the Arts. J. C. Kaufman (2012) provided initial evidence for the K-DOCS’ factor structure. However, the factor structure requires replication and the measure has not been validated. The current study examines the factor structure of ...

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Beyond the Mask: Analysis of Error Patterns on the KTEA-3 for Students with Giftedness and Learning Disabilities

Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment

2016 An understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, and achievement profiles of students with giftedness and learning disabilities (G&LD) is needed to address their asynchronous development. This study examines the subtests and error factors in the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement–Third Edition (KTEA-3) for strength and weakness patterns of students with G&LD in higher and lower level ...

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Do You Pursue Your Heart or Your Art? Creativity, Personality, and Love

Journal of Family Issues

2015 We examined the associations between love, personality, and creativity for people in relationships of varying durations. Participants (N = 1,529) from regions across the United States completed an online survey. Consistent with prior work, we found that relationship length was negatively associated with passion, positively associated with commitment, and did not exhibit a significant association with ...

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