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The science of curiosity

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/the-science-of-curiosity/#

weforum.org

The science of curiosity
Mario Livio, author of Why? What Makes Us Curious, explores curiosity.

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Perceptual curiosity

Perceptual curiosity

The curiosity we feel when something surprises us or when something doesn’t quite agree with what we know or think we know.

That is felt as an unpleasant state, as an adversity state. It’s a bit like an itch that we need to scratch. That’s why we try to find out the information in order to relieve that type of curiosity.

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Epistemic curiosity

This is a pleasurable state associated with an anticipation of reward.

That’s our level of knowledge. That’s what drives all scientific research. It drives many artworks. It drives education and other things like that.

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The genetic component of curiosity

Most psychological traits, and curiosity is no exception, have a genetic component to them.

The fact that some people are much more curious than others largely has to do with their genetics. But, as in all cases, genetics is never the whole story.

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Curiosity and aging

Love of knowledge and our willingness to learn new things appears to be constant across all ages.

People at very old ages are still willing to learn things, to discover new things, to read. The topics that you are curious about may change with age or with time or with whatever occupation you are in.

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Curiosity leads us to generate alternatives

Curiosity leads us to generate alternatives

When our curiosity is triggered, we are less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias (looking for information that supports our beliefs rather than for evidence suggesting we are ...

Curiosity and innovation

Encouraging people to be curious generates workplace improvements.

When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. Studies have found that curiosity is associated with less defensive reactions to stress and less aggressive reactions to provocation.

Reduced group conflict

Curiosity encourages members of a group to put themselves in one another’s shoes and take an interest in one another’s ideas rather than focus only on their own perspective.

Thus, conflicts are less heated, and groups achieve better results.

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.