Strengths of Mind

Curiosity is a strong desire to learn or know something—a search for information for its own sake.

It’s also about leaving your mind open to possibilities and being honest about what you do and don’t know. Curiosity is about exploration—there’s a reason that one of NASA’s Mars rovers is named for this strength. Curiosity is an important aspect of learning because it is a source of motivation.

Most kids are naturally curious. In schools, we can create environments where curiosity is cultivated, supported, and encouraged. Curiosity arises when kids believe there is new information to acquire and that it will be feasible to learn that information.

Observing Curiosity

Expressing curiosity could involve:

  • Eagerly exploring new things
  • Asking questions that deepen understanding
  • Taking an active interest in learning

What the Research Says

Dr. Jon Baron of UPenn talks about “Active Open-minded Thinking” and curiosity.

Evidence suggests that curiosity is separate from intelligence. It’s also multi-faceted—one can be intellectually curious, socially curious, or exhibit curiosity related to a specific task. Research also suggests that some aspects of curiosity are related to bravery and social intelligence. A few studies have shown that, regardless of a child’s intelligence, intense curiosity can lead to cognitive development and academic improvement.

The research also suggests that curiosity isn’t all good in all situations! Curious people may waste time by “going down a rabbit hole.” And in certain contexts, asking too many questions can be inappropriate or rude!

There is also good research about active, open-minded thinking (AOT), which is like curiosity in that it involves the search for new information. People who are consistently open to many points of view exemplify AOT. Active, open-minded thinking contributes to positive psychosocial outcomes, interpersonal relationships, subjective well-being, cognitive development, and even good citizenship.

In addition to our own expertise, this page is informed by the following readings:

Keep Exploring Curiosity