Do aliens exist? Curious about where you’re gonna end up in life, with our – sometimes – lack of common sense?? Did that famous astronaut really land on the moon? Yeah well, our curiosity is endless; especially as teens, we sometimes find ourselves wondering about the most random things that just pop up in our heads grabbing our attention like a Tom and Jerry chase. Surely, if you pay attention in class, you would have heard teachers say “don’t hesitate to ask questions” or something along the lines of “any questions, thoughts, ideas?” It’s a no brainer really. But curiosity plays a significant role in how well we do in our academic life. How? Does curiosity come within us or are there external factors involved? Is being curious a bad or good thing?
Curiosity is an emotion. For a long time, scientists have been puzzled about where exactly curiosity came from in the human brain. One thing they knew was that curiosity was strong. So strong. Like emotions. And as time went by and with the advancements in technology, they were able to officially state that curiosity is indeed an emotion. So… it’s an emotion? What’s the point?
Emotions are a strong driver of decision making. The process of human decision making is solely driven by emotions and intelligence. And guess what? Emotions weigh more! But how do all these science facts relate to us?
Yeah, intelligence is important in our academic life, but guess what? It’s not the whole puzzle! We all know stories of that brilliant kid who failed school or someone with mediocre smarts who made up for it by working hard. And you know why most of them succeed? It’s because of their hunger for exploration. When you’re curious, don’t you find different ways to satisfy your curiosity? Don’t you read books, ask your friends, teachers, and most of all GOOGLE? Exactly! Moreover, researchers performed a meta-analysis, collecting data from approximately 200 studies, a total of around 50,000 students. They discovered that curiosity actually has an impact on academic performance. It plays almost the same role as conscientiousness – which is basically our tendency to go to class, do our homework etc.
As mentioned earlier, curiosity is an emotion. So does it mean that it can be influenced by external factors? The answer to that is YES! There are many theories in the study of curiosity and one of the is the incongruity theory. Basically, it is the idea that curiosity is motivated when we’re presented with something that doesn’t fit into our understanding of the world. For instance, while you’re reading this article, you hear a random thud in another room. You’re home alone so where did the thud come from? Naturally, you’ll look for where the sound came from am I right? This is a great example of how our curiosity has been aroused by an external factor. The internal concept of curiosity is known as trait curiosity. It’s basically characteristics that certain people have a lifelong interest in something, such as learning, for the sake of it. The study of this has been associated with different kinds of behaviours. However, it is a positive characteristic.
One thing to know is that the study of curiosity still remains a mystery to the science world. Neither of the theories out there can fully explain curiosity. The debate of whether curiosity comes from inside us or external factors don’t impact the concept of it.
We’ve all had those moments where we’re so curious about something, but we feel intimidated, shy or just don’t have the confidence to inquire others for answers. I know I’ve had many of these occasions, especially in my academic life. The bad side of curiosity is that it can make us do horrible things; or even worse, bring us down for what we don’t yet know. But let’s not be submerged in this pit of uncertainty. And as Rose Wilder Lane says, “curiosity is the hunger within you” so, what do you do when you’re hungry?
Artwork by Monica G10