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


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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