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Curiosity and Interest: The Benefits of Thriving on Novelty and Challenge

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Curiosity and Interest: The Benefits of Thriving on Novelty and Challenge

Abstract

An imbalance exists between the role of curiosity as a motivational force in nearly all human endeavors and the lack of scientific attention given to the topic. In recent years, however, there has been a proliferation of concepts that capture the essence of curiosity-recognizing, seeking out, and showing a preference for the new. In this chapter, we combine this work to address the nature of curiosity, where it fits in the larger scheme of positive emotions, the advantages of being curious in social relationships, links between curiosity and elements of well-being, and how it has been used in interventions to improve people's quality of life. Our emphasis is on methodologically sophisticated findings that show how curiosity operates in the laboratory and everyday life, and how, under certain conditions, curiosity can be a profound source of strength or a liability. People who are regularly curious and willing to embrace the novelty, uncertainty, and challenges that are inevitable as we navigate the shoals of everyday life are at an advantage in creating a fulfilling existence compared with their less curious peers. Our brief review is designed to bring further attention to this neglected, underappreciated, human universal.
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CHAPTER
34 Curiosity and Interest: The Benefits of
Thriving on Novelty and Challenge
Todd B. Kashdan and Paul J. Silvia
Abstract
An imbalance exists between the role of curiosity as a motivational force in nearly all human endeavors and
the lack of scientific attention given to the topic. In recent years, however, there has been a proliferation of
concepts that capture the essence of curiosity-recognizing, seeking out, and showing a preference for the
new. In this chapter, we combine this work to address the nature of curiosity, where it fits in the larger
scheme of positive emotions, the advantages of being curious in social relationships, links between
curiosity and elements of well-being, and how it has been used in interventions to improve people’s quality
of life. Our emphasis is on methodologically sophisticated findings that show how curiosity operates in the
laboratory and everyday life, and how, under certain conditions, curiosity can be a profound source of
strength or a liability. People who are regularly curious and willing to embrace the novelty, uncertainty, and
challenges that are inevitable as we navigate the shoals of everyday life are at an advantage in creating a
fulfilling existence compared with their less curious peers. Our brief review is designed to bring further
attention to this neglected, underappreciated, human universal.
Keywords: curiosity, interest, meaning, motivation, positive emotions, well-being
In the early days of motivation psychology, human
activity was explained by relentless, hydraulic drives.
The goal of action, theorists argued, was to reduce
intense sensations and achieve a state of quiet, still
inertia. Novelty, complexity, and challenge were
sources of drive and thus stimuli to be avoided
(Hull, 1952). It quickly became obvious, however,
that people are never inert. There’s more to motiva-
tion than reducing drives and filling deficits: People
seek out complex and challenging activities, intri-
guing people, and novel ideas. Curiosity and
interest—the core of intrinsically motivated
action—are things that classic motivation theories
never explained well. Seeking new experiences,
preferring complexity over simplicity, and engaging
in actions out of intrinsic interest are hallmarks of
human action, and they lead psychology to the study
of how and why people thrive on novelty and
challenge.
This chapter examines what modern psychology
knows and doesn’t know about curiosity and
interest. Researchers from many areas of psychology
have explored the nature, functions, and conse-
quences of being curious. After reviewing this
work, we will turn to the uncertain, complex
problems that interest contemporary curiosity
researchers. At the start, we should note that we’ll
use ‘‘curiosity’’ and ‘‘interest’’ as synonyms: both
refer to a positive motivational-emotional state
associated with exploration. In everyday speech,
people tend to use ‘‘curious’’ for upcoming events
and ‘‘interested’’ for current events, but this doesn’t
reflect a conceptual difference. Some researchers
have proposed differences between curiosity and
interest—such as curiosity is aversive but interest is
pleasant (e.g., Hidi & Berndorff, 1998)—but so far
no research has shown that they differ (Silvia, 2006,
pp. 190–191).
What Is Curiosity?
Given over a century of psychological study of
curiosity, it is no surprise to find diverse models of
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what curiosity is (Kashdan, 2004; Silvia, 2006).
The oldest tradition views curiosity as an appeti-
tive, approach-oriented motivational state (Arnold,
1910; Dewey, 1913). Berlyne (1971), for example,
proposed that new, complex, and surprising things
activate a reward system that generates positive
affect. This reward system motivates novelty
seeking and rewards exploring novel things.
Intense novelty and complexity activate a counter-
poised aversion system, which motivates avoidance.
The intrinsic motivation tradition—associated
with social-personality psychology—traces interest
to the operation of organismic needs, particularly
needs related to autonomy, relatedness, and
competence (Deci, 1992; Ryan & Deci, 2000).
When interested, people pursue actions for their
own sake instead of for rewards. A tradition rooted
in emotion psychology views interest as an emotion
(Izard, 1977; Silvia, 2006; Tomkins, 1962).
Interest should thus entail facial and vocal expres-
sions, subjective experience, motivational qualities,
and adaptive functions across the life span (see
chap. 1, Silvia, 2006).
Perhaps most important are the commonalities
among these theoretical approaches. All theories of
curiosity agree that curiosity is an approach-oriented
motivational state associated with exploration.
When curious, people ask questions (Peters, 1978),
manipulate interesting objects (Reeve & Nix, 1997),
read deeply (Schiefele, 1999), examine interesting
images (Silvia, 2005), and persist on challenging
tasks (Sansone & Smith, 2000). In short, all theories
agree that curiosity’s immediate function is to learn,
explore, and immerse oneself in the interesting
event. In the long term, curiosity serves a broader
function of building knowledge and competence.
Exploring new events fosters learning new things,
meeting new people, and developing new skills.
Curiosity can be defined as the recognition,
pursuit, and intense desire to explore novel, challen-
ging, and uncertain events. When curious, we are
fully aware and receptive to whatever exists and
might happen in the present moment. Curiosity
motivates people to act and think in new ways and
investigate, be immersed, and learn about whatever
is the immediate interesting target of their attention.
This definition captures the exploratory striving
component and the mindful immersion component.
By focusing on the novelty and challenge each
moment has to offer, there is an inevitable (however
slight) stretching of information, knowledge, and
skills. When we are curious, we are doing things
for their own sake, and we are not being controlled
by internal or external pressures concerning what we
should or should not do.
Interest and the Family of Positive
Emotions
Although central to positive experience and
development, curiosity is not merely another word
for happiness, enjoyment, well-being, or positive
affect. Curiosity and happiness are distinct positive
experiences: they have different functions, causes,
and consequences. Silvan Tomkins (1962), writing
before the advent of research on positive emotions,
proposed that interest and enjoyment play different
roles in human development. Interest motivates
people to try new things, explore complex ideas,
meet intriguing people, and do novel actions.
Enjoyment, in contrast, motivates people to form
attachments to familiar things and to reinforce activ-
ities that were enjoyable before. Tomkins pointed
out that these functions can conflict: Interest
motivates people to spend their vacation traveling
in a new place, whereas enjoyment motivates people
to revisit the place they liked last year.
Consistent with Tomkins’ view, experiments
have found different sources of interest and enjoy-
ment (see Silvia, 2006, pp. 25–29). The dimension
of novelty versus familiarity strongly discriminates
interest and happiness. In studies of pictures, music,
stories, anagrams, and games, interesting things are
rated as new, complex, dynamic, and challenging,
but enjoyable things are rated as familiar, calming,
stable, and resolved (Berlyne, 1971, pp. 213–220;
Iran-Nejad, 1987; Russell, 1994). In a recent study
of emotional responses to art, Turner and Silvia
(2006) found that ratings of interest and enjoyment
were unrelated. Disturbing and complex works of art
were interesting, whereas calming and simple works
of art were enjoyable.
Finally, interest and enjoyment have different con-
sequences. Interest strongly predicts exploratory action,
such as how long people visually explore images, how
long they listen to music, and how much time they
spend on games and tasks. Unlike interest, enjoyment
modestly predicts exploratory action. In a study of
music, Crozier (1974, experiment 4) found that
interest explained 78% of the variance in how long
people listened to music, whereas enjoyment explained
merely 10%. In a study of visual art (Berlyne, 1974),
interest explained 43% of the variance in viewing time,
whereas enjoyment explained 14%.
Perhaps curiosity ought to be placed into a
different category of emotion. Positive emotions,
according to Lazarus (1991), come from appraising
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an event as congruent with one’s goals. To be inter-
ested in something, however, people need not
appraise the event as goal-congruent: people are
often interested in unpleasant, unfamiliar, and
possibly unrewarding activities (Turner & Silvia,
2006). As an alternative, we could place curiosity
and interest within the category of ‘‘knowledge emo-
tions.’’ Suggested by Keltner and Shiota (2003), this
category contains emotions associated with learning
and thinking, such as interest, surprise, confusion, and
awe. This category highlights curiosity’s functional
role in building knowledge, skills, and relationships,
and it emphasizes the subtle ways in which curiosity
contributes to well-being (Kashdan & Steger, 2007).
Is Curiosity Aversive?
One tradition of curiosity research views curiosity
as aversive, as a mental itch that must be scratched.
Dating to drive reduction models of curiosity (see
Fowler, 1965), this approach assumes that curiosity is
an aversive experience that motivates its own reduc-
tion. Building on Loewenstein’s (1994) model of
aversive curiosity, Litman (2005) has proposed two
facets to curiosity: curiosity as a feeling of interest,
and curiosity as a feeling of deprivation. The differ-
ence is whether people seek information out of
interest or out of frustration at not knowing. These
two factors emerge as distinct (although highly
related) latent factors in correlational research
(Litman & Silvia, 2006). Litman’s model raises
some interesting questions about curiosity. If curi-
osity is defined as ‘‘wanting to know,’’ then interest
and deprivation represent two reasons for wanting to
know. If curiosity is defined as a positive motiva-
tional-emotional state, then Litman’s interest facet is
what we mean by curiosity, and Litman’s deprivation
facet is a different, incurious reason for wanting to
know. This is an intriguing program of research, but
besides one quasi-experimental study (Litman,
Hutchins, & Russon, 2005) it has yet to move
beyond correlating global self-report measures with
other global measures. Research should examine
whether the deprivation facet of curiosity has incre-
mental validity beyond processes such as rumination,
neuroticism, and worry. Complex designs are needed
to examine the degree to which aversion motivates
variants of curiosity and how this process unfolds
differently in people’s lives.
Individual Differences in Curiosity
Research on state curiosity inspired a wave of
research on individual differences related to
curiosity. Psychologists have examined global,
higher-order traits associated with curiosity; open-
ness to experience (McCrae, 1996) and sensation
seeking (Zuckerman, 1994) are good examples.
Other models of curiosity examine lower-order,
specific traits. ‘‘Trait curiosity’’ models, which pro-
pose individual differences in levels of novelty
seeking and exploration, have had a recent flurry of
attention (Kashdan, Rose, & Fincham, 2004).
According to these mid-range models, trait curiosity
explains variance not accounted for by higher-order
factors like openness and sensation seeking, so trait
curiosity is an appropriate level for examining
curiosity. And still other models examine facets of
trait curiosity, such as perceptual curiosity (Collins,
Litman, & Spielberger, 2004), epistemic curiosity
(Litman & Spielberger, 2003), and sensory curiosity
(Litman, Collins, & Spielberger, 2005). Trait curi-
osity models typically assume a spectrum of variation
in stable tendencies to experience or express
curiosity. A tacit assumption is that states and traits
are psychologically equivalent (see Fleeson, 2001):
Trait curiosity manifests in the frequency or inten-
sity of state experience (Silvia, 2008).
Recent Discoveries and Unknown Territory
Curiosity in the Social World
Although most research on curiosity has focused on
responses to nonsocial stimuli (e.g., preferences for
bizarre compared to common pictures, surprise
endings to stories), it is reasonable to apply curiosity
and exploration to other people and social situations.
First, social situations are often ambiguous and chal-
lenging. These qualities are the reason that social
situations offer great opportunities for self-expansion.
Partners who offer greater self-expansion opportunities
to us are more desirable. The desirable process of
self-expansion often transfers over into the relationship
itself, enhancing feelings of connectedness and beha-
viors that work toward the development of meaningful
relationships. Second, when people feel that their
primary relationship partner is secure and responsive,
a typical response is the willingness to seek out possible
growth opportunities by exploring, learning, and
taking risks (even in the presence of uncomfortable
feelings; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978;
Bowlby, 1969). Third, feelings of curiosity may build
social bonds by promoting behaviors such as engage-
ment, responsiveness, and flexibility to others’ varied
perspectives. These curiosity-relevant behaviors are
desirable in interpersonal transactions and the forma-
tive stages of relationship development (Kashdan &
Fincham, 2004; McCrae, 1996). People who are more
curious have been shown to experience more positive
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social outcomes (Kashdan & Roberts, 2004; Peters,
1978). People with greater curiosity are more receptive
to the ambiguity of social activity, and they enjoy
growth opportunities as a function of sharing novel
events with other people and discovering new infor-
mation from them. When something interesting
happens to us, sharing it with other people (who are
good listeners) can transform memories of the event.
Describing an interesting event to others serves to
strengthen our own curiosity and make it more salient
(Thoman, Sansone, & Pasupathi, 2007). The intrinsic
value and motivation for a given activity can be
increased through this socialization process. Future
work may show that the regulatory benefits of other
people extend more broadly to the development of
long-term interests (chap. 5, Silvia, 2006).
Fourth, research in educational settings has
shown that perceptions of threat and supportiveness
affect whether people feel curious, explore, and
derive the benefits of these behaviors. In general,
students with greater curiosity have more academic
success than less curious peers (Hidi & Berndorff,
1998; Schiefele, Krapp, & Winteler, 1992). Yet,
there are crucial contextual factors that moderate
whether curious students thrive academically. Even
though students high in trait curiosity initiate 3
times as many classroom questions compared to
their less curious peers, both groups become more
inhibited when teachers are perceived as threatening
(Peters, 1978). In a large study of students in Hong
Kong, adolescents with greater trait curiosity who
perceived their schools to be academically challen-
ging had the greatest grades and performance on
national achievement tests, whereas students with
greater trait curiosity in less challenging schools
had the worst academic outcomes (Kashdan &
Yuen, 2007).
Overall, there is evidence that people differ in the
recognition and sensitivity to nonsocial and social
stimuli appraised as novel, complex, uncertain, or
growth oriented, with particularly curious people
deriving more immediate and lasting psychological
and social benefits. But there are boundary condi-
tions to these relations, including how people
habitually relate to other people and characterize
caregivers, romantic partners, friends, teachers, and
the degree of fit with institutional settings. Social
anxiety, perceiving people as threatening or nonre-
sponsive, insecure relationships, and being situated
in less enriching environments can disable curiosity
and exploratory tendencies. Despite the appeal of
simplistic models of the benefits of curiosity, there
are important social and institutional moderating
variables that require careful theoretical and
empirical consideration. There has been impressive
evidence for examining ‘‘curiosity in context’’ to
understand the conditions leading to favorable and
unfavorable consequences.
Curiosity and Well-Being
The question of how to develop sustainable
increases in well-being is important to humans
living amid everyday challenges and suffering and
to health professionals interested in intervention.
There are several processes that hinder the ability
to maintain anything more than short-term changes
in well-being, including substantial genetic contri-
butions (Lykken & Tellegen, 1996) and people’s
profound ability to adapt to changes in life circum-
stances (and return to relatively stable baseline levels;
Brickman, Coates, & Janoff-Bulman, 1978). As a
result, nearly all gains in well-being are temporary
because the benefits of positive life circumstances
tend to be short-lived.
The functions of curiosity make it an ideal
candidate to signaling and producing well-being.
Curiosity has been defined as one of the funda-
mental mechanisms of the biologically based
reward sensitivity system (Depue, 1996) and
intrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000), which
have profound influences on well-being. Upon
seeking and investing effort in novel and challenging
activities, people with greater curiosity expand their
knowledge, skills, goal-directed efforts, and sense of
self (e.g., Ainley, Hidi, & Berndorff, 2002). Feeling
curious also appears to increase tolerance for distres-
sing states of self-awareness that result from trying
new things and behaving in ways outside of one’s
comfort zone (Kashdan, 2007; Spielberger & Starr,
1994).
Curiosity motivates people to explore the world
and challenge themselves, and it is relevant to
obtaining life fulfillments. Using cross-sectional
and laboratory research designs, people scoring
higher on trait curiosity consistently report greater
psychological well-being (Naylor, 1981; Park,
Peterson, & Seligman, 2004; Vittersø, 2003). In
terms of physical well-being, 3-year-old children
with greater curiosity and exploratory tendencies
demonstrate greater intelligence at age 11 (Raine,
Reynolds, Venables, & Mednick, 2002), and older
adults in their early seventies with greater curiosity
live longer over a 5-year span than their less curious
peers (Swan & Carmelli, 1996).
One theoretical model suggests that people with
greater curiosity are more selective of and responsive
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to activities that are personally and socially
enriching, leading to the building of durable psycho-
logical resources (for review see Silvia, 2006). Recent
work suggests that people with greater curiosity are
more reactive to events that offer opportunities for
growth, competence, and high levels of stimulation.
Over the course of 21 days, people with greater trait
curiosity reported more frequent growth-oriented
events (such as persisting at goals in the face of
obstacles and expressing gratitude to benefactors),
greater daily curiosity, and greater sensitivity to these
daily events and states (Kashdan & Steger, 2007). In
addition, for people with greater trait curiosity,
greater daily curiosity was more likely to persist
into the next day and in turn, greater daily curiosity
led to persistent elevations in perceived meaning and
purpose in life. People with less trait curiosity
reported greater sensitivity to hedonistic events and
states (such as having sex purely for pleasure and
binge drinking), but the benefits were short-lived.
The effects of curiosity were not attributable to daily
negative affect, trait positive affect, or Big Five
personality traits. These results suggest that the
neglected interplay of trait and state curiosity may
be important in the development and sustainability
of particular types of well-being (eudaemonia,
meaning in life). Also, these data suggest that feelings
of curiosity are particularly reactive to novelty and
growth potential as opposed to indiscriminate,
positively valenced stimuli.
Although the results in this area of study are
appealing, incremental validity and the mechanisms
that link curiosity to well-being require further
study. After all, the list of constructs associated
with well-being is enormous, and it will be impor-
tant to evaluate whether theoretical models of
curiosity provide insight into why curiosity is parti-
cularly beneficial. Moreover, there are a number of
discrepancies that need to be resolved. For example,
some research suggests that the pleasures of curiosity
are derived from resolving ambiguity and uncer-
tainty (Beswick, 1971; Loewenstein, 1994), whereas
other work finds that the process of discovery and
meaning making is intrinsically enjoyable (Feist,
1994) and that positive emotions can be sustained
by intentionally attending to the lingering uncer-
tainty in a given situation (Wilson, Centerbar,
Kermer, & Gilbert, 2005). The resolution may
arise from the inclusion of other variables such as
feelings of perceived competence during a given task,
whether important environmental contingencies
depend on the outcome (e.g., betting a paycheck
on a single football game, having a deadline to
review a mystery novel), and individual differences
in trait curiosity and tolerance for ambiguity.
Clinical Uses of Curiosity
Despite factors that work against the develop-
ment of increased well-being (e.g., genetic factors,
hedonic adaptation), making efforts toward intrinsi-
cally valued goals and pursuits may disrupt these
stabilizing processes (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson,
1999). Arguably, the disposition and state most
aligned with these activities is curiosity, which
involves active tendencies to seek out, savor, and
probe novel distinctions in each moment with an
eye toward change and complexity as opposed to
stability and familiarity. By focusing on novelty
and challenge, people who feel curious challenge
their views of self, others, and the world with an
inevitable stretching of information, knowledge, and
skills. This movement toward intrinsically valued
directions appears to be a pathway to the building
of meaning in life, with the simultaneous presence of
a positive present (mindful engagement, sense of
meaningfulness) and future time orientation
(search for meaning, planning long-term goals with
minimal worry about obstacles). Intuitively, it seems
useful to examine changes in trait curiosity and
curiosity experiences as an index of engagement,
progress, and desired outcomes during the course
of intervention efforts.
Although clinical efforts recently have incorpo-
rated positive psychological constructs such as posi-
tive affect, pleasant events, and optimism, there is
insufficient theoretical and empirical attention to
curiosity. For people suffering from psychological
disorders, intrusive thoughts and anhedonic pro-
cesses can blunt the experience and expression of
appetitive activity. Of particular interest is whether
facilitating curiosity can build the self-regulatory
resources to withstand the avoidance and disengage-
ment that tends to occur following episodes of
extreme anxiety and depression, and whether it can
be a backdoor route to approaching, processing, and
making meaning of difficult emotional material. In
addition, humans are constantly confronted with
approach-avoidance conflicts between desired out-
comes and contact with unwanted negative feelings,
thoughts, and bodily sensations. Using more sophis-
ticated modeling of complex emotional reactions
and decisions, scientists can begin to examine
whether facilitating curiosity can increase how
often people select approach behavior in response
to these internal conflicts. Related to this perspec-
tive, many clients are ambivalent about whether to
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make changes in their behavior (e.g., eating junk
food) despite unhealthy consequences (e.g., obesity)
and many beneficial reasons for change (e.g., mortality,
physical stamina). It is useful to elicit nonjudgmental
information on the reasons for and against changing
versus staying the same, ask whether and how behavior
conflicts with values, and highlight and elicit curiosity
in any inconsistencies (see work on motivational
interviewing;Miller&Rollnick,2002).Asaninter-
vention, it may be useful to help people elaborate their
core values and provide feedback from assessments of
everyday experiences and event reactivity. In the
pursuit of sustainable sources of pleasure and meaning,
these exercises may increase the degree to which
behavioral patterns and goal pursuits are congruent
with intrinsic values and dominant behavioral tenden-
cies (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). These techniques and
the supportive literature have yet to be considered and
adopted by the majority of clinical researchers and
practitioners. This is unfortunate because the recovery
rates for empirically supported treatments for emotion
disturbances tend to be no higher than 40–50%
(Westen & Bradley, 2005), suggesting the need for
refinements and novel directions, such as targeting
intrapersonal curiosity and exploratory tendencies.
A Brief Agenda for the Future Study
of Curiosity
Despite over a century of scientific theory and
research, there is much that remains to be examined
about curiosity. Let us boldly emphasize a few
challenges potentially worthy of funding and endless
hours of contemplation and execution. First, without
question, there is a need for more innovative assess-
ment strategies. We suggest a triangulation approach
among self-report technologies, unobtrusive measures,
and slices of ecological behavior. Rather than simply
asking people face-valid questions, scientists also can
examine differential activation of biological processes
linked to reward sensitivity and exploratory behavior
(e.g., dopaminergic agents, left prefrontal cortex
asymmetry) in response to stimuli characterized by
novelty, complexity, and uncertainty. In addition,
experience-sampling approaches provide repeated
measurements of what people do from moment-to-
moment in the contexts in which they find themselves.
This approach can be a useful means of discovering
what curious people do and how people become cur-
ious during everyday life. People with greater trait
curiosity should seek out more frequent novel and
challenging events and react to these events with an
orientation characterized by openness and exploration,
which in turn promotes the growth of knowledge,
competence, and well-being. These different assess-
ment strategies can be merged to differentiate people
who differ in dispositional or hardwired curiosity.
Additionally, this approach can shed light on the
construct specificity of curiosity from other discrete
positive affects and dimensions of temperament and
character, and the antecedents and consequences of
feeling curious at a particular moment in time.
Second, the mechanisms linking curiosity to
hardened outcomes such as mortality, academic
and work productivity, creativity, and physical
health and illness have yet to be clearly delineated.
For example, why should highly curious people live
longer than their less curious peers (Swan &
Carmelli, 1996)? Several hypotheses can be gener-
ated, such as the process of neurogenesis stemming
from continued novel and intellectual pursuits, a
nondefensive willingness to try less traditional treat-
ments and health strategies, or the psychological
benefits of evaluating stressors as challenges and
being guided by exploration as opposed to avoidance
(e.g., less overactive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal
axis). An examination of cognitive, behavioral,
social, and biological levels of analysis will lead to
promising avenues of when and how curiosity leads
to desirable outcomes. To better understand the
process of how curiosity leads to an expansion of
resources or growth, each of these levels of analysis
will require an examination of how these mechan-
isms unfold over time.
Third, the refinements in assessment and basic
research should be in the service of working toward
the discovery of how to cultivate curiosity in
meaningful life domains. Of particular importance
is finding alternative ways to aid people suffering
from fear, apathy, intolerance of uncertainty, and
lives controlled by avoidance and other forms of
overregulation. We argue that the facilitation of
curiosity may be a useful supplement to treatments
designed to increase self-awareness and introspec-
tion, cope with and derive meaning from difficult
emotional material, and increase recognition, recep-
tiveness, and reactivity to the reward cues that are
often ignored or avoided in everyday life. In the
ideal, research on curiosity will no longer be the
province of social, personality, and developmental
psychologists, but will include allied health profes-
sionals invested in applying knowledge to preven-
tion and treatment.
Conclusions
There is mounting evidence that curiosity is
important to understanding lives that are well
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lived. The best way to understand this is to imagine
what life would be like without the experience of
curiosity. There would be no exploration of the self
and world, introspection, search for meaning in life,
aesthetic appreciation, scientific pursuits, innova-
tion, and, to some degree, personal growth. When
confronted with novelty and challenge, the domi-
nant response tendencies are related to curiosity and
anxiety. The literature on anxiety is enormous, but
the recognition and study of curiosity has been
relatively neglected. We sought to describe some of
the basic qualities of curiosity, show how it is unique
from other positive emotions, traits, and processes,
provide support for how curiosity relates to flour-
ishing in fundamental life domains, suggest some of
the social-cognitive and environmental factors that
affect curiosity and its benefits, and reveal how much
remains to be discovered. To understand how people
thrive in general and in particular situations,
the multitude of strengths and resources described
in this handbook are going to have to be studied in
tandem and not in isolation. In this science of
human flourishing, curiosity can no longer be
ignored.
Three Questions for the Future
1. Why are some people more curious than other
people?
2. How can clinicians, counselors, and coaches
use curiosity and novelty to enhance everyday life
and prevent degenerative conditions such as
Alzheimer’s disease?
3. How does curiosity influence other constructs
in positive psychology, such as meaning in life,
maturity, wisdom, spirituality, creativity, and
healthy relationships?
References
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... However, other general goals of education are not to be overlooked. "Thinking habit", including curiosity, is one of the components of the chief objective of productive predisposition, promoting self-confidence and scientific thinking (Clements et al., 2013;Kashdan & Silvia, 2012;Klahr et al., 2011;Raharja et al., 2018). The curiosity of young children is high and natural (De Lange, 2019;Trundle et al., 2013). ...
... They were able to understand the concept of measurement and express their thoughts regarding the learning and the game. Some curiosity characteristics were observed during the learning activity, such as, the joy when discovering the answer, showing curiosity when trying to find the answer, and performing the task diligently (Kashdan et al., 2018;Kashdan & Silvia, 2012;Litman, 2005Litman, , 2008Shah et al., 2018). This research revealed that children's interactions during a game opened a pathway for them to get to know about early mathematics concepts of measurement and attracted their curiosity. ...
... While there is little research on the development of curiosity or on curiosity in school settings, it is widely believed that learning and innovative thinking are driven by curiosity (Kashdan et al., 2013;Livio, 2017). More broadly, curiosity promotes a range of positive outcomes from exploration and persistence in information seeking to academic performance and longer-term well-being (Kashdan & Silvia, 2009;Kashdan & Steger, 2007;von Stumm et al., 2011). For example, although a meta-analysis found that intelligence was the strongest predictor of academic performance, curiosity predicted performance beyond intelligence, even when Developing Intellectual Character controlling for students' effort and ability (von Stumm et al., 2011). ...
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