Are You Curious? The 6 Surprising Benefits
Would you consider yourself a curious person? Do you question beliefs, thoughts and/or actions? While constant questions can get annoying, the trait of being curious can actually be really good for your well being.
Emily Campell is a research assistant for the Greater Good Science Center's education program and a Ph.D. student in education at UC Berkeley. She explains the 6 ways curisoty can benefit our lives.
1. Curiosity helps us survive. The urge to explore and seek novelty helps us remain vigilant and gain knowledge about our constantly changing environment, which may be why our brains evolved to release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when we encounter new things.
2. Curious people are happier. Research has shown curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being. Of course, it may be, at least partially, that people who are already happier tend to be more curious, but since novelty makes us feel good (see above), it seems likely that it goes the other direction as well.
3. Curiosity boosts achievement. Studies reveal that curiosity leads to more enjoyment and participation in school and higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work. It may seem like common sense, but when we are more curious about and interested in what we are doing, it’s easier to get involved, put effort in, and do well.
4. Curiosity can expand our empathy. When we are curious about others and talk to people outside our usual social circle, we become better able to understand those with lives, experiences, and worldviews different than our own. Next time you have the chance to talk with a stranger, especially someone who may be quite dissimilar to you, try engaging with them on a personal level (respectfully, of course) and showing them that you are interested in what they have to say.
5. Curiosity helps strengthen relationships. One study asked strangers to pose and answer personal questions, a process scientists call “reciprocal self-disclosure.” They found that people were rated as warmer and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in the exchange (while other variables like the person’s social anxiety and their levels of positive and negative emotions did not affect the partner’s feelings of attraction and closeness). This implies that demonstrating curiosity towards someone is a great way to build your closeness with them.
6. Curiosity improves healthcare. Research suggests that when doctors are genuinely curious about their patients’ perspectives, both doctors and patients report less anger and frustration and make better decisions, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of treatment.
H/T Greater Good