Beth Hennessey

Professor Emerita of Psychology


Former elementary school teacher, now researcher focused on motivation and creativity across cultures.

I have carried out numerous studies showing a powerful link between intrinsic task motivation and creativity of performance. This relation holds for everyone from preschoolers to seasoned research and development scientists. Yet most classrooms and workplaces are set up to kill intrinsic motivation ... with rewards, evaluations, competitions, and the like. At present, I am involved with a number of cross-cultural investigations of this phenomenon and I'm also collaborating with colleagues at MIT and in Singapore to develop a cutting-edge university curriculum to be used in the new IDC (International Design Center) at Singapore University of Technology and Design.

I almost always teach statistics and love doing so! Without statistical expertise, I would have no way to make sense of my data ... no way to move closer to finding the answers to the research questions that fascinate me so. I also frequently teach a seminar on the psychology of creativity, a course on research methods in educational psychology and a class on the psychology of teaching, learning and motivation. Teaching is what makes me "tick." I study it, write about it, and do it fueled by my own unending intrinsic motivation. I cannot imagine my life without teaching!

I spend a great deal of time disseminating my research findings to educators at all levels ... from elementary school to university. I am also very interested in curriculum development and am currently collaborating with colleagues in a number of countries.

I have a wonderful husband who is a professor and dean of the graduate school at Brandeis University. We have two sons, a cat, and three dogs (my fault!). When I do have some free time, I love to travel ... even a local excursion to a new fun neighborhood or ethnic restaurant can be an adventure. I also love to read, cook/bake, and weave.

Link to Personal Page


  • A.B., Brown University
  • M.Ed., Lesley College
  • Ph.D., Brandeis University