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Scott Barry Kaufman

Scott Barry Kaufman

Cognitive Scientist and Humanistic Psychologist, Founder, Center for The Science of Human Potential & Host: The Psychology Podcast


Renowned humanistic psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman, explores the depths of human potential by challenging traditional metrics of success. Using his research, knowledge of the science, and enthusiasm, Kaufman helps all kinds of minds live a more creative, fulfilling, and self-actualized life. Read More >

His early educational experiences made him realize the deep reservoir of untapped potential of students, including bright and creative children who have been diagnosed with a learning disability. Today, Kaufman shares the science of thriving at work and growing from setback as well as how to foster self-actualization and creativity in the workplace and in education.

His latest book Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, presents a new hierarchy of human needs for the 21st century, one that allows for the fulfillment of individual potential as well as the actualization of transcendent purpose and peak experiences. He is the author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Twice Exceptional: Supporting and Educating Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties, The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice, The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence, The Philosophy of Creativity: New Essays, and The Psychology of Creative Writing.

Kaufman has received numerous accolades his research and in 2020 was selected as one of “The Top 20 Psychologists 40 & Under” by The Best Schools. He has also been recognized as one of “50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world” by Business Insider.

Kaufman is a regular contributor to The Atlantic and Scientific American, sharing insights into intelligence, creativity, personality, and well-being. Kaufman hosts the #1 psychology podcast in the world, “The Psychology Podcast,” which has received over 20 million downloads and was included in Business Insider’s list of “9 podcasts that will change how you think about human behavior.”

Kaufman has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, among others. During his time at University of Pennsylvania, Kaufman was asked by Angela Duckworth to take over her U Penn course, Introduction to Positive Psychology as she was working on her book Grit. Upon the book’s completion, she asked Kaufman to keep the class as it had become so popular under his lead.

During his tenure as Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, he investigated how we measure human potential, perseverance, achievement, and creativity.

Challenging stereotypes, Kaufman determined his own path that led him from special-ed to scientist. He received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University, and an MPhil in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge under a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Kaufman is a flow and self-actualization coach, in which he personally helps people get more engaged in their work and reach their full potential. He has shared his ideas all over the world, including for major groups at LEGO, Vogue, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the Creativity World Forum. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Updated for the 21st Century | Big Think

There’s an Actual Formula for Reaching Your Goals

The Messy Minds of Creative People | Microsoft

From Evaluation to Inspiration | Aspen Institute

TEDx: A New Theory of Human Intelligence

Maslow & the New Science of Self Actualization

Speech Topics

The Science of Thriving at Work & Growing from Setback

At work, we often feel a need to prioritize either productivity or wellbeing. But as Scott Barry Kaufman knows, these two priorities aren’t an “either or” scenario—in fact, they actually need each other. Drawn from Scott Barry Kaufman’s popular Columbia course on the Science of Living Well, this talk provides a theoretical and practical approach to well-being and self-actualization in a workplace setting. Thriving is a term that captures the optimal state of functioning of individuals, groups or organizations, with indicators such as self-actualization, meaning, engagement, health, growth, and creativity as well as other markers of being in a state of peak experience. Productivity, effective teamwork, strong leadership, and innovation are essential to the work we do. But when we prioritize basic human needs—like health, security, growth, meaning, mindfulness, self-esteem, connection, and more—our productivity, leadership, and teamwork improve in leaps and bounds. As Kaufman shows audiences, there are ways that we can cultivate a sense of well-being at work in ways that are growth-fostering and bring out the best in everyone. Drawn from his groundbreaking new research on the science of self-actualization, he’ll leave you with a new, actionable framework for enhancing productivity and wellbeing, and show how we don’t have to be set back by our setbacks, but can actually grow and thrive by leaps and bounds after trauma and setbacks.

A New View of Intelligence

In an educational system founded on rigid standards and categories, students who demonstrate a very specific manifestation of intelligence get the keys to the kingdom, while those who deviate tend to fall between the cracks. After overcoming his own struggles with how intelligence is defined, passion and perseverance for long-term personal goals are at the core of Scott Barry Kaufman’s new theory of Personal Intelligence. Kaufman elucidates that if we want to increase self-actualization in students, we need to take into account the child’s dreams, passions, and goals, and harness their greatest strengths in the service of realizing who they truly want to become. A leading expert in the exciting new field of human-centered education, Kaufman applies the latest science of positive psychology and self-actualization coaching to help all people get on the path to reach their full potential. Kaufman’s research has particular implications for children who have learning difficulties, including dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as other vulnerable populations, such as ethnic and racial minority students. Read More >

Presenting cutting-edge, original research, Kaufman shows how student intelligence is a natural outcome of harnessing the unique strengths in children, as well as building on their unique learning challenges. By seeing the whole child, we can see higher levels of creativity and performance that we never could have predicted. Read Less ^

Unlocking Self-Actualization & Creativity in the Workplace

What does it take to unlock your greatest creative potential at work and beyond? Drawing on his extensive research for the past 20 on years on what "creative people do differently" and his latest revision of Maslow’s famous "hierarchy of needs," Scott Barry Kaufman traces the main factors that allow people and organizations to maximize their creative potential. A leading expert in the exciting new field of human-centered education, Kaufman applies the latest science of positive psychology and self-actualization coaching to help all people get on the path to reach their full potential. Kaufman will help people increase the chances they will feel completely absorbed in their tasks and activities — while at work and in their daily lives so that they can be naturally more productive and find more meaning, creativity, and purpose in their lives.

Human Potential Reimagined: Toward a Human-Centered K12 Education

What if we had schools where students were treated as human first, and all students were recognized for their unique potential? When we are young we don’t always know our own true potential and it’s impossible to have passion for what you can’t see. All people that work with our youth have the greatest opportunity to help our youth find their true potential and find their passion to learn and grow. In this program and using his wide and deep research in many SEL content areas Scott Barry Kaufman creates dynamic and insightful customized keynotes or workshops for all K12 Administrators, Educators, Students and even communities. A leading expert in the exciting new field of human-centered education, Kaufman applies the latest science of positive psychology and self-actualization coaching to help all students get on the path to reach their full potential. Imagine if our schools revolved around optimizing the human potential in every student, and took into account their basic needs as a human, not just their potential for doing well on standardized tests.