Hal Hershfield, assistant professor of marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and two collaborators have been selected to receive a $200,000 research grant from the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.

Herschfield and collaborators Diana Tamir of Princeton University and Adam Waytz of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University will study "imagination experts" such as artists, musicians and creatives who have a proven ability to generate highly imaginative output. The researchers will use neural, behavioral and linguistic measures of their subjects’ capacity for stimulation and will seek to determine if there are specific skills that can be taught to help people enhance their imaginative output.

The Imagination Institute was founded in 2014 to stimulate scientific research on measuring, growing and improving imagination. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation and administered by National Philanthropic Trust, the institute recently announced $3 million in grants to researchers at 16 institutions. 

“Many might think imagination can’t be measured,” said Christopher Stawski, Templeton Foundation vice president of strategic program initiatives. “But by supporting this ambitious scientific research program we hope to better understand how to encourage and cultivate the imaginative capacities of individuals and society to increase human potential and flourishing.”

Hershfield's research at UCLA Anderson focuses on judgment and decision-making as well as social psychology, with a particular interest in how thinking about time can strongly affect decision-making and emotional experience. He was recently named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science, and has received funding from the Templeton Foundation’s New Paths to Purpose Grant Program and the Russell Sage Foundation Small Grant in Behavioral Economics. He received his B.A. in psychology and English from Tufts University and his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University.