Todd Kashdan

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Todd Kashdan
Todd Barrett Kashdan
Known forResearch on curiosity
Awards American Psychological Association's 2013 Distinguished Scientific Early Career Award
Scientific career
Institutions George Mason University

Todd Barrett Kashdan is an American psychologist. He is a professor of psychology [1] and director of the Well-Being Laboratory at George Mason University. [2] His research explores why people suffer, with an emphasis on the transition from normal to pathological anxiety. Other research explores the nature of well-being, with an emphasis on the critical functions of curiosity, meaning and purpose in life, and psychological flexibility to human performance. [1] [2] [3]


Education and career

Kashdan received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1996. [4] He conducted research with Arthur Aron at Stony Brook University to identify what character traits drive attraction. While a doctoral student at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, together with Paul Rose and under the direction of Francis Fincham, he explored how people's curiosity affects their relationships. [5]

Kashdan became an assistant professor at George Mason University in 2004 and became a full professor in 2014. [6]


Together with John Roberts, Kashdan studied how curiosity affects the successfulness of a relationship, exploring, for instance, if curious people are more active listeners, if they show more interest, and if they ask more thoughtful questions. [7] Since 2004, Kashdan has also taught at George Mason University, where he is a tenured professor and leads the Well-Being Laboratory. The lab received a $1 million research grant from the Charles Koch Foundation by 2020. [8]

Kashdan has found that curiosity is key to a "happy, fulfilling life". He states that it helps make even tedious tasks more enjoyable, by focusing on the details and capturing the childlike sense of awe and wonder. [9] He wrote a chapter about how curiosity is a character strength for Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman. From his research, Kashdan has found that curiosity leads to better performance, because curious people are more open to learning and are more engaged. [10]

He has also found that people who practice gratitude are better able to interact with others in their work and personal lives, because they are more likely to be more considerate of other people and less aggressive in response to insults. [11]


In 2019, Kashdan was chastised by George Mason University for "lack of appropriate professional behavior" and gender-based sexual harassment of graduate students. [8] [12] [13] He was reprimanded and ordered to undergo sexual harassment prevention training. He was also banned from teaching graduate courses for a period of two years. He continued teaching undergraduate courses during this period. [8] [14] In 2020, Kashdan lost a lawsuit against the university over the sanctions; in 2023, he also lost an appeal. He argued in the lawsuit that he had faced "anti-male bias" in the university disciplinary process. [14] [15]

Awards and honors

Kashdan received the American Psychological Association's 2013 Distinguished Scientific Early Career Award. [16]


For the general public:

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  1. 1 2 Dalphonse, Sherri (November 26, 2020). "Why Gratitude May Be What Gets Us All Through These Troubling Times". Washingtonian. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  2. 1 2 Hogenboom, Melissa. "Should women be grateful for help at home?". BBC. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  3. Max, D. t (July 1, 2007). "Happiness 101". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  4. "Reunion Reports". Cornell Alumni Magazine. September–October 2002. p. 78.
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  11. "For some, gratitude a way of life". The Atlanta Constitution. November 24, 2011. pp. F10. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  12. Barakat, Matthew (May 1, 2020). "George Mason Professor Sues after Sanctions for Sex Talk". Associated Press News. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  13. Burke, Lilah (May 4, 2020). "George Mason Faults Professor for Sexual Talk With Students". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  14. 1 2 Quinn, Ryan (June 23, 2023). "George Mason U Professor Loses 'Anti-Male Bias' Suit". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  15. Weiner, Rachel (June 22, 2023). "Court: Professor who went to strip club with students not 'anti-male bias' victim". The Washington Post.
  16. Reynolds, Anne (January 18, 2013). "Professor Kashdan Recognized with American Psychological Association Award". College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
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