Curiosity is a sign of being smart, research suggests.
Curiosity could even be as important as intelligence in how well people do in life.
People who are curious ask lots of questions, look for surprises, seek out sensations and make time to search out new ideas.
Intelligence, along with curiosity and some personality factors, predicts successful performance in many areas.
Dr Sophie von Stumm, the study’s first author, said:
“Curiosity is basically a hunger for exploration.
If you’re intellectually curious, you’ll go home, you’ll read the books.
If you’re perceptually curious, you might go traveling to foreign countries and try different foods.”
The conclusions come from an analysis of around 200 separate studies including about 50,000 students.
All the studies examined how personality and intelligence affected academic performance.
The results showed that students who are curious do better in their school work.
Along with being curious, some personality traits are linked to better performance.
Conscientious students, in particular, perform better.
People who are conscientious are more careful, efficient and self-disciplined — and they aim for achievement.
Dr von Stumm said:
“It’s not a huge surprise if you think of it, that hard work would be a predictor of academic performance.”
Taken together, conscientiousness and curiosity were just as important as intelligence in students’ performance.
Curiosity is a very important quality for employers to look for, said Dr von Stumm:
“It’s easy to hire someone who has the done the job before and hence, knows how to work the role.
But it’s far more interesting to identify those people who have the greatest potential for development, i.e. the curious ones.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science (von Stumm et al., 2011).