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Research

The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult/worthwhile . . . Optimal experience is something that we make happen.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990)
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience


The reason creativity is so fascinating is that when we are engaged in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life . . . but creativity also leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1996)

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention



Creativity is a complex construct. By necessity, researchers take widely differing approaches to investigating it. Most broadly, we study creativity from a developmental perspective. We are especially interested in understanding optimal experience, or flow, the state of total engagement during which a person manages challenge and skill to create opportunities for growth, as a prerequisite for creativity.


Flow experiences help people live more meaningful lives and make positive, creative contributions to the culture.


To date, our practical, faculty-student interdisciplinary research has focused on the following areas:

  • The role of flow in improving student learning in higher education

  • The role of flow in confronting academic disengagement in higher education

  • The role of flow in building adolescent resilience

  • Undergraduates’ evolving understanding of “creativity” in an online learning environment

  • The early family lives of highly creative persons

  • Psychological complexity in highly creative persons

  • Complexity as a catalyst for flow and creativity


Please check back soon for a list of publications by the Creative Life Research Center, our affiliate faculty, and our team of interdisciplinary faculty.