Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Lansford, Carbon County
Barron pioneered the study of creativity and personality; his book Creativity and Psychological Health is considered to be one of the major works on the topic.
Frank Barron, born in 1922 in Lansford, Pennsylvania, was a professor of Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz until his death in 2002. He wrote a number of fundamental works on creativity and personality, including Creativity and Psychological Health.
Frank Xavier Barron was born in Lansford, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1922, to Francis and Sarah Ellen Barron. He was an extremely avid reader as a child, devouring everything from Mark Twain to H.G. Wells. At the age of 16, he attended La Salle University, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1942. Following his initial collegiate education, he enlisted in the army from 1943 to 1946, becoming a sergeant. He attended Cambridge University in 1946 for some additional course work, received his Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota in 1948, and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950. Barron married Nancy Jean Camp in 1961, and they had three children: Francis Charles Xavier, Brigid Jessica Sarah, and Anthea Rose Maeve.
In his professional life, Barron went on to be a professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he spent the rest of his life doing research and teaching psychology. Barron’s research is some of the most influential of its kind, focusing on creativity and personality theories. As Mike Arons states in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, “His explorations and insights helped mark creativity research as an insurgency within its field, provided scholarly grounds of support for a vastly expanded vision of psychology… as well as for the society-wide new consciousness revolution that marked the 1960s.” Among his many works on psychology and the nature of creativity, he is most known for his studies Creativity and Psychological Health and Creativity and Personal Freedom. His work with the Berkeley Institute of Psychological Research (IPAR), as well as his individual research, is invaluable to the field of creative psychology. Their original research questions were “(1) What arethe characteristics of persons who are highly effective in their personal lives and professional careers? And (2) How are such effectively functioning persons produced in our society.” After a few years, the IPAR moved onto its crowning studies on the creative personality, studies which they rarely published. Barron himself has published a lot of his findings on creativity and creative persons, such as “those who are more creative like things (including their personal lives) messy, disordered, ambiguous, and asymmetric. Those who are less creative like things neat, orderly, clear, and even.” He helped lay the foundation for the understanding of the interplay between creativity and personal life. Because of his great influence in the world of creativity and psychology, a Festschrift of essays was collected in his honor in 1996 by Alfonso Montouri, articulating not only his brilliant theories but also detailing his personal life and philosophies.
Barron died on October 6, 2002, in Santa Cruz, after complications from a fall. He was 80-years-old.
Creativity and Psychological Health. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1963.
Scientific Creativity. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1963.
Creativity and Personal Freedom. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1968.