We live in time that is totally bombarded by information, where every question can answered by a simple google search. In such a world how do we get students to remain inquisitive about the world around them?

According to  behavioral economist George Loewenstein, “curiosity happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge.” We therefore seek out the missing information in order to “eliminate the feeling of deprivation.” But is curiosity internally or externally stimulated? Is it a primary drive, like hunger or fear? Is curiosity a state or trait?  “If people like positive levels of curiosity, why do they attempt to resolve the curiosity?”

In his 1994 publication “The Psychology of Curiosity,” Lowenstein surveys the body of curiosity research, much of which occurred in the early 1960s and 70s. In doing so, he provides and backdrop by which to understand his own research and how it resolves many of the debates surrounding curiosity. Simply stated: I’m curious because there’s a gap between “what I know and what I want to know.” Two notable implications come from this perspective:

  1. The intensity of curiosity correlates to the likelihood of certain information to resolve the information-gap. Loewenstein’s own tests confirmed that subjects were more curious when given parts of a greater whole—the need to complete enough of a picture puzzle in order to determine what it was (a picture of an animal) resulted in more interaction than a scenario where each block was a discrete picture.
  2. Curiosity correlates with our own understanding of particular domain. The more we know about some topic, the more likely we are to focus on our own information-gaps. If I know 8 of 10 items, I’m more curious about the remaining 2 than if I only know 2 of 10 things.

Further discussion on this topic can be found via the link:



“mystery demands that you stop and consider—or, at the very least, slow down and discover.” JJ Abrahams

I recently read an article about leveraging curiosity through design, which asks the question, How can interactions be made more effective—and fun—by introducing a bit of (controlled) uncertainty?

Interestingly it makes a case study of Hot wheels and its curious marketing technique,

“In recent years, Hot Wheels has begun including a “mystery car” in their store shipments. Unlike all the other cars encased in clear plastic, this car is shielded by an opaque black plastic—you have no idea what kind of car is in there. With two or three dozen hot wheels to choose from, guess which one the kids go after? Given the choice of all these “known” cars, the one that—in my experience—gets attention (and allowances) is the Mystery Car—the one that is “unknown.”

  1. Some tiny bit of information makes us aware of something that is unknown.Black packaging hides toy
  2. Context provides some relevance. These are kids, shopping for a toy. 
  3. Enough clues are given to help us make a judgement about the personal value of that unknown information. Kids who like Hot Wheels can infer that this car will be similar in quality and possibilities as the surrounding options

“Information can be presented in a manner that is straightforward or curious. If we opt for the latter, we are guaranteed not only attention, but likely higher engagement as well”


Excerpts from a spanish article written by Jose Baldaia http://www.josebaldaia.com/intuinovare/?p=2978

Curiosity and exploration

Intrinsic motivation theorists say that the exploratory behavior and intellectual activity are two expressions of interest in the underlying learning.

The exploratory curiosity is the result of attracting new stimuli accompanied by lack of dread or fear, while the intellectual curiosity is embedded within the ideas and the need to think.

Curiosity is defined as a need, desire or thirst for knowledge and that curiosity is essential for motivation

We see people who constantly seek the meaning of things, but fear risking their exploration of the unknown.

The risk factor is important.


” Curiosity is one of the best qualities a designer can have and no doubt one of the least appreciated. If you aren’t interested in the world around you, you’ll never even begin to understand how to fix it.”

 Curious Minds: New Approaches in Design, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, showcases the work of about 30 international designers who use “design to ask probing questions about human behavior and to address the social, cultural, and ethical consequences of emerging technologies,”