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Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know

Boredom alone can’t fully explain curiosity

The old view is that curiosity and boredom are opposite ends of the same continuum.

The new view: bored is not to curious as hungry is to full or thirsty is slaked. Rather, boredom is a signal that you’re not making good use of a part of the brain. And there are antidotes to boredom besides curiosity.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know

Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know

http://nautil.us/issue/33/attraction/curiosity-depends-on-what-you-already-know

nautil.us

5

Key Ideas

Paradox of curiosity

Curiosity doesn’t seem to be tied to any specific reward. 

It makes sense for organisms to seek food, water, sex, shelter, rest, wealth, or any of the other myriad nourishing and pleasant things in life. But what is the good of deducing the nature of gravity, or of going to the moon?

A simple answer is that we never know if what we learn today might come in handy tomorrow. 

Curiosity and evolution

From an evolutionary perspective, there’s good reason to keep looking, to be curious. Information helps us make better choices and adapt to a changing environment. 

Curiosity as a probability algorithm

Scientists who study the mechanics of curiosity are finding that it is, at its core, a kind of probability algorithm—our brain’s continuous calculation of which path or action is likely to gain us the most knowledge in the least amount of time. Like the links on a Wikipedia page, curiosity builds upon itself, every question leading to the next. And as with a journey down the Wikipedia wormhole, where you start dictates where you might end up. 

Curiosity it’s less about what you don’t know than about what you already do.

Boredom alone can’t fully explain curiosity

The old view is that curiosity and boredom are opposite ends of the same continuum.

The new view: bored is not to curious as hungry is to full or thirsty is slaked. Rather, boredom is a signal that you’re not making good use of a part of the brain. And there are antidotes to boredom besides curiosity.

The Information Gap

In a 1994 paper, Loewenstein theorized that curiosity’s direction is determined by the “information gap,” the sudden awareness of what you don’t know and the immediate desire to fill that gap.

But for the information gap to set its hook, though, it can’t be too big or too small - Curiosity peaks when subjects have a good guess about the answers,  but aren’t quite sure.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Curiosity

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

The 5 dimensions that define curiosity

  • Joyous exploration: I view challenging situations as an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • Deprivation sensitivity: I like to try to solve problems that puzzle me
  • Stress tolerance: The smallest doubt can stop me from seeking out new experiences.
  • Social curiosity: Social curiosity: I like to learn about the habits of others. I like finding out why people behave the way they do.
  • Thrill-seeking: The anxiety of doing something new makes me feel excited and alive. Risk-taking is exciting to me.

4 types of "curious" people:

  1. The Fascinated – score high on all dimensions of curiosity, particularly joyous exploration.
  2. Problem Solvers – score high on deprivation sensitivity, and are midrange for other dimensions.
  3. Empathizers – score high on social curiosity, midrange on other dimensions and much lower on stress tolerance and thrill-seeking.
  4. Avoiders – score low on all dimensions, particularly stress tolerance.

The Way Therapy Works

There is growing research on how therapy actually works. Psychological communication, dialogue, and intervention can work even better than pills.
This seems eve...

Therapy Techniques

  • Some therapists are just there to listen and provide a backdrop.
  • Even the silence that they exhibit seems to kindle the patients into divulging more of their most uncomfortable truths.
  • Others keep the sequence of assignments and tests lined up, never pausing.
  • Therapists play varied roles to get some valuable information out of the patient and make him better.

Therapy That Works

No particular form of therapy is proven to be better or more effective than others.

Different people prefer or respond to different forms of therapy.

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The Importance Of Boredom

It drives us to engage in activities that we find more meaningful than those at hand. Without it, we’d be perpetually excited by everything.

Research shows that people who are bored...

Focus And The Brain

When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming

  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

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