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People’s naïve belief about curiosity and interest: a qualitative study

Aslan, S., Fastrich, G., Donnellan, E., Jones, D. J. W. and Murayama, K. (2021) People’s naïve belief about curiosity and interest: a qualitative study. PLoS ONE, 16 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256632


The purpose of this study was to critically examine how people perceive the definitions, differences and similarities of interest and curiosity, and address the subjective boundaries between interest and curiosity. We used a qualitative research approach given the research questions and the goal to develop an in-depth understanding of people’s meaning of interest and curiosity. We used data from a sample of 126 U.S. adults (48.5% male) recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Mage = 40.7, SDage = 11.7). Semi-structured questions were used and thematic analysis was applied. The results showed two themes relating to differences between curiosity and interest; active/stable feelings and certainty/uncertainty. Curiosity was defined as an active feeling (more specifically a first, fleeting feeling) and a child-like emotion that often involves a strong urge to think actively and differently, whereas interest was described as stable and sustainable feeling, which is characterized as involved engagement and personal preferences (e.g., hobbies). In addition, participants related curiosity to uncertainty, e.g., trying new things and risk-taking behaviour. Certainty, on the other hand, was deemed as an important component in the definition of interest, which helps individuals acquire deep knowledge. Both curiosity and interest were reported to be innate and positive feelings that support motivation and knowledge-seeking during the learning process.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:100427
Publisher:Public Library of Science


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