By Russell A. Wheeler, MS

“Appalling…this was how education’s neglect of creativity was described in 1950 by Dr. J.P. Guilford in his inaugural address as president of the American Psychological Association.”
Alex F. Osborn

The Creative Studies Project (Noller & Parnes, 1972; Parnes & Noller, 1972a, 1972b, 1973) took place from 1969 through 1972 at Buffalo State College – State University of New York. The purpose of this landmark investigation was “to conduct research into the nature and nurture of creative behavior, and to translate the findings into educational programs” (Parnes & Noller, 1972a, p. 12). This research was an extension of the “pilot experimentation and the development of courses, programs, and methods designed to stimulate creative behavior” (p. 14) that took place at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1949 to 1967.

The research that took place between 1957 and 1967 at the State University of New York at Buffalo dealt with the following four areas:

  • (1) the effects of a semester’s program in deliberate creativity-stimulation; (2) the relative effects on creative ability of a programmed course used alone or used with instructors and class interaction; (3) the effects of extended effort in creative problem solving; and (4) the effectiveness of the specific creative problem-solving principle of deferred judgment. (Parnes & Noller, 1972a, p. 14)

New hypotheses were established for the research at Buffalo State College – State University of New York, 1969-72, to determine the following:

  • students who complete a four-semester sequence of Creative Studies courses will perform significantly better than otherwise comparable students on: (1) tests of creative application of academic subject matter; (2) nonacademic achievement in areas calling for creative performance; (3) certain personality factors associated with creativity; and (4) selected tests of mental ability, problem-solving, and job performance. (p. 16)

There were approximately 350 applicants for the Project, of which 150 were randomly selected for the experimental group (i.e., were enrolled in a series of creativity courses), and 150 were placed into a control group (i.e., did not receive any creativity training).

Parnes and Noller (1972b) examined the results of their research through the following questions:

  • (1) What differences are found between the personalities of the Experimental subjects (E’s) and Control students (C’s) at the very beginning of the Project? (2) What differences are there between those students who stay with the Project vs. those who drop out after one or more semesters? (3) What changes associated with creativity occur in the personalities of the students during the two years of the Project? (p. 15)

The results of the project were significant in that it led to the development of undergraduate courses in creative studies. The students who participated in the experimental group exceeded their counterparts in the control group on a variety of psychological measures; specially designed tests given in English courses; increases in personal productivity, creative behavior, and problem solving abilities; and test results in various academic disciplines increased from year-to-year.

The findings from this landmark study, the Creative Studies Project, support the teaching of creativity at the International Center for Studies in Creatiivity and the Creative Problem Solving process.


  • Noller, R. B., & Parnes, S. J. (1972). Applied creativity: The creative studies project: Part III – The curriculum. Journal of Creative Behavior, 6(4), 275-294.
  • Parnes, S. J., & Noller, R. B. (1972a). Applied creativity: The creative studies project: Part I – The development. Journal of Creative Behavior, 6, 11-22.
  • Parnes, S. J., & Noller, R. B. (1972b). Applied creativity: The creative studies project: Part II – Results of the two-year program. Journal of Creative Behavior, 6, 164-186.
  • Parnes, S. J., & Noller, R. B. (1973). Applied creativity: The creative studies project: Part IV – Personality findings and conclusions. Journal of Creative Behavior, 7, 15-36.

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