Curiosity and Motivation

Paul J. Silvia

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Curiosity and Motivation

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Curiosity is an old, intriguing, and vexing construct in the psychology of motivation. This chapter reviews the major strands of thought on curiosity and motivation: (1) curiosity as a motive to reduce negative states, such as uncertainty, novelty, arousal, drive, or information gaps; (2) curiosity as a source of intrinsic motivation that fosters learning and exploring for their own sakes; and (3) curiosity as a stable motivational difference between people that leads to differences in knowledge, goals, achievement, and experience. The scope of psychological thought on curiosity defies a simple integration, but it offers inspiration for researchers curious about why people learn and explore in the absence of obvious external rewards.

Keywords: curiosity; interest; intrinsic motivation; personality

Article.  7715 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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