Berkeley scientists try to rationalise Curiosity

By Nic LazMonday, Jul 15, 2019

Is this what Curiosity looks like?


Two academics from the fields of Psychology and Education have presented at the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society their attempt at rationalising Curiosity. Proposing “a rational analysis of curiosity, proposing that people’s curiosity is driven by seeking stimuli that maximize their ability to make appropriate responses in the future.”


Their theory is that we are Curious so as to be better prepared for the future, to respond or react to currently unknown stimuli or situations we seek to learn new things by being Curious. This idea bridges many other past theories of the reasons for us being Curious creatures and was empirically tested by the academics with particular regard to ‘confidence’ using 40 trivia questions created by academics and “designed to measure curiosity about semantic knowledge and evoke a range of curiosity levels.”


Their results in this first experiment are quite fascinating, as it seems to demonstrate that the environment and context of a person’s explorations has a direct impact on the relationship between confidence and curiosity within the person. As such this affects the motivation and learning potential of the person, in simpler words curiosity is affected by environment.


For us Curious members of TENCLUB this has always been an essential part of designing the experience of learning Curiously. As such we have created frameworks for the many Clusters of Fascination to facilitate such explorations by our members with authenticity and confidence.


Here are the results in a mouth-full of scientific jargon for all those that can stomach it:


“Our theory posits that people are curious about stimuli that maximally increase the usefulness of their current knowledge. Depending on the structure of the environment, the stimuli that maximize this value can either be ones that are completely novel or that are of intermediate complexity…Our results suggest that human curiosity is not only sensitive to the properties of the stimuli but it is also affected by the nature of the environment… If we want to make people curious about tasks or activities for which they have little confidence in, perhaps subtle changes in the structure of the environment might be a step towards achieving that”



If you would like more of this – here is a link to the full academic paper.




What are your Curious thoughts about this?


Is curiosity just an internal motivating force for us to learn new things in preparation for the unknowns of life?


Is there a clear relationships between Curiosity and Confidence?


What 40 questions would you ask to measure someone’s Curiosity?



Tell us all.