science | August 26, 2014

Daydream Believer: Scott Barry Kaufman Says Imagination Can Predict Success

Scott Barry Kaufman is the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute, where he investigates the measurement and development of imagination. In a recent feature on the TED blog, Kaufman discussed his research and why imagination—and its higher-level delineation of "possibility thinkers"—may have the power to identify creative brilliance, inform hiring decisions, and predict success across the board.

A person's imagination seems like a simple concept. But the scientific community is calling for more research to be done in this burgeoning field, with special attention to the default mode network: what our brains are up to when we are not actively "thinking." To address this, Kaufman and the Imagination Institute are working on “The Imagination Quotient," an alternative to traditional, IQ-oriented standardized testing. "[IQ] tests measure skills that come from the executive attention brain network. They ignore the whole suite of skills that come from the default mode network,” says Kaufman. "They’re not measuring for people who are good at envisioning new realities, and that’s a big distinction." Over on Medium, he makes a similar case for inspiration instead of evaluation: "In a culture obsessed with measuring talent, ability, and potential, we often overlook the important role of inspiration in enabling potential."

But why is a facility for imagination a good thing? “If you have an imaginative capability to envision future possibilities, alternatives, and scenarios—that’s going to be predictive [of success] across the board,” says Kaufman.

We look forward to learning more in Kaufman's new book about imagination and creativity, Messy Minds (out next fall from Penguin).

In his talks, Kaufman takes us deep inside the field of imagination psychology to show us what we can do to tap into our—and our employees’—capacity for creative thinking. To book Scott Barry Kaufman as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

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authors | August 24, 2014