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How to Become More Curious | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/11/30/curious/

scotthyoung.com

How to Become More Curious | Scott H Young
Learning is easier when you're interested in the topic. Here's what science has to say about the best way to boost curiosity.

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Scott Young

"Learning is dialog, not consumption. The attitude that creates curiosity is to see learning as principally driven by asking questions and coming up with answers, not consuming information."

Scott Young

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What makes learning interesting

Learning is a lot easier when it’s interesting. And what makes learning interesting is the degree of your curiosity about a certain subject.

Career opportunities and the fear of failure can motivate us. But if you really want to learn something, nothing beats curiosity.

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Curiosity: evolution of the concept

Curiosity was first pictures as an unpleasant state that we were motivated to decrease.

In 1994, George Loewenstein offered a more modern take in his information-gap theory. His theory stated that curiosity was driven from the gap between what you know and what you’d like to know.

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George Loewenstein's theory on curiosity

George Loewenstein's theory on curiosity
  • Curiosity is influenced by framing effects. If the situation highlights a single missing piece, you’re much more curious than if you think you haven’t assembled most of the puzzle.
  • Insight-based issues provoke more curiosity than accumulative ones. If you need a single idea to make the entire idea snap into relief, you’ll be more curious than if the answer is only to be found by acquiring a mountain of facts.
  • You need to believe you can solve the puzzle. To be curious, we need to believe we can achieve success. If you think a lot of investigation won’t result in an insightful payoff, low curiosity is likely to result.

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Predicting curiosity

Knowledge about a subject predicts curiosity for new knowledge. And this happens because you need to have some information before you can ask good questions. Since good questions are the raw material for curiosity, it’s difficult to be curious about something when you can’t ask any questions.

This shows that learning creates a positive feedback loop. The more you know about a topic, the more likely you are to have unanswered questions that direct and motivate curiosity.

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Making things more interesting by asking the right questions

To be more curious, you have to rethink the information you've acquired in terms of the key mysteries it was developed to solve.

Your curiosity will be stronger when you'll have a concrete, unanswered question that seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to solve.

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Know where to get the answers

  • The art of asking questions needs to be paired with the capacity of finding the answers.
  • Online forums are good ways and environments to ask questions and get expert replies. For many questions, teachers, peers and people around you can often answer questions you’ve missed.
  • Figuring out the answer for yourself is also satisfying.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. "

Albert Einstein

Curiosity declines with age

Children are extremely curious. They keep asking, "why?" and explore new things just because they want to know.

But research shows that during the schooling years, curiosity steadily declines, and as adults, we fall into fixed and convenient thought patterns.

The mechanics of curiosity

Research around curiosity found that children at age 5 scored 98% on a creativity test. When the same children took the test at age 10, only 30% scored well on the test. By age 15, only 12% of the same children did well. Less than 2% of adults are defined as creative based on their answer to this standardised test.

Science suggests this decrease in curiosity could be caused when we feel there's no gap between what we know and what we want to know, so we just stop being curious.

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Be Funny and Interesting

  • Humor: It takes a lot of practice until you can figure out the natural timing and flow of a joke. Practice makes perfect.
  • Interest comes from having an interesting life. You can be interesting by telling stories  or by simply being quick to bring up an interesting fact.

Interest is similar to humor whenever people discover something they didn’t expect.

Tell Great Stories

  • You need to have an interesting point to make it worthwhile.
  • Your most interesting point should be the last thing you say in your story.
  • Keep it short.
  • Keep it personal. People prefer stories about people they know.
  • The more you tell a story the better you get the natural timing and emphasis. 

Your advice monster

Your advice monster

When somebody asks you for advice about something, and before you can gain the full context, your 'advice monster' is like, "Oh, oh, I've got something to say here."

Ways advice-giving goes bad

  • We're solving the wrong problem: The first challenge that shows up is seldom the real issue.
  • Our advice is not nearly as good as we think it is: Cognitive bias makes us think we're brilliant at things even though we aren't.
  • Our advice monster will make us think that we are responsible for all the answers to save this person. It is exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming.
  • For the person who's on the receiving end of your advice monster - they're getting the message that they are incapable of figuring this out by themselves, ripping away at their sense of confidence and autonomy.

Advice monsters are insatiable

As soon as somebody starts talking, your advice monster wakes up with, "Oh, I'm going to add some value to this conversation!"

Learn to tame your advice monster. To train it, you need to understand it.