Positive Psychology and Scripture Part III:  Strength of Curiosity

CURIOSITY [Interest, Novelty-Seeking, Openness to Experience]

Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering

SCRIPTURE

Romans 8:19
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:23
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

1 Corinthians 14:12
So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

I could not find a direct use of the word curious or curiosity so I used a synonym in the word eager. Being curious and having an openness to experience God moving in our life is a very powerful strength. It is proactive in that it keeps us desiring and discovering God in ever new ways.

CURIOSITY

Definition

Curiosity, interest, novelty-seeking, and openness to experience represent one’s intrinsic desire for experience and knowledge. Curiosity involves the active recognition, pursuit, and regulation of one’s experience in response to challenging opportunities.

  • Being absorbed in the plot of a movie
  • Completing a crossword puzzle without awareness of time passing
  • Opening and reading with eagerness a handwritten letter
  • Watching the flight of a seagull
  • Conversing with an intriguing stranger
  • Examining a picture of Siamese twins conjoined at the head
  • Pondering the aftermath of a date
  • Listening carefully to a new song on the radio

Novelty-seeking reflects an individual’s propensity for seeking novel and exciting experiences to elevate stimulation to an optimal level; this include a willingness to endure high levels of risk (e.g., pain and injuries when rock climbing, rejection when meeting new people) to obtain the benefits of novelty. Novelty seeking may also lead to negative outcomes such as illegal substance use, risky sexual behavior, and the like.

Correlates and Consequences

Curiosity, novelty seeking, and openness to experience are all associated with desirable psychosocial outcomes.

  • general positive affect,
  • willingness to challenge stereotypes,
  • creativity,
  • preference for challenge in work and play,
  • perceived control,
  • negative relationships with perceived stress and boredom (Cacioppo et al., 1996).

In a longitudinal study of the 7th – 11th grade students, students designated as being interested in learning:

  • reported their school experience as more satisfying (positive affect),
  • as being important to their future (opportunity),
  • having good relationships with teachers,
  • having a sense that they would succeed (achievement) (Ainley, 1998, p. 264).

When the school environment was perceived as unthreatening, college students with high trait curiosity asked nearly five times as many questions as students with low trait curiosity (Pesteres, 1978).

  • Curiosity accounts for approximately 10% of the variance in academic learning and performance (Schiefele, Krapp, & Winteler, 1992)
  • 36% of the variance in self selected career choices (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994).
  • associated with greater learning, engagement, and performance in academic settings (e.g. Harackiewicz, Barron, Tauer, & Elliot, 2002) and work organizations (e.g., Reio &Wiswell, 2000).
  • For clients being treated for physical and psychological conditions, predicted greater adherence and better outcomes (e.g., R.M.Ryan, Palnt & O’Malley, 1995).
  • direct attention and capitalizing on positive qualities of partners and conversations and self-generating interest and fun during interactions (Kashdan et al., 2002).
  • that curiosity facilitates appetitive behaviors leading to positive development.

Development

  • Infant temperament and fear evoked by the environment begin to set the stage for whether stimuli is categorized as dangerous (m. Schulman, 2002).
  • a predisposition to fear and withdraw from novel settings, people, and objects, begin to manifest as early as 21 months of age (Kagan, 1989).
  • Those children who see caregivers as more nurturing and autonomy granting are better equipped to regulate the inherent anxiety of novelty, (McCrae & Costa, 1988).

Enabling and Inhibiting Factors

  • Curiosity can be thwarted by overconfidence, dogmatism and failure to appreciate what one does not know (Loewenstein et al., 1992).
  • anxiety inhibits curiosity and exploration in interpersonal interactions (Kashdan & Roverst, in press),
  • classroom settings (Peteres, 1978),
  • Social interaction anxiety (e.g., fear of meeting new people, initiating conversations) has also demonstrated unique, negative relationships with curiosity (Kasdan,2002).

All of the information on each of these strengths come from Character Strengths and Virtues (Seligman & Peterson. 2004)

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