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

  • Curiosity keeps you young. Those that maintain a sense of wonder throughout life live longer.
  • Curiosity helps you learn. Curiosity enables you to remember new information.
  • Curiosity encourages better relationships. Being really interested in other people helps build strong relationships.
  • Ask questions: Randomly ask yourself why? and how?
  • Read outside your field of interest.
  • Be interested in people. Choose someone you haven't seen in a while, and invite them for coffee. Make it a goal to learn as much as possible about their interests.
  • Practice talking less and listening more.
  • Immerse yourself in a topic. Read lots of articles, books, and research papers.
  • Write about this topic.
  • Carry a notebook. It will make it easier to remember topics you are curious about.
  • Learn about yourself. Explore your feelings, your goals, and even your family history.
  • Slow down. Let your mind wander and allow questions to form.
  • Hang out with a child, as this is one of the best reminders of our potential for curiosity.

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RELATED IDEAS

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 wrong) and to stereotyping people (making broad judgments).

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IDEAS

Curiosity

It is the recognition, pursuit, and desire to explore novel, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous events.

Wonder is said to be a childish emotion. However, as adults, we experience it when gaping at something unexpectedly spectacular.

Adam Smith, an 18th-century moral philosopher, describes wonder as something new and singular that is presented, and memory cannot find any image that nearly resembles this unique appearance.

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