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Although leaders might say they value inquisitive minds, in reality most stifle curiosity, fearing it will increase risk and inefficiency.

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Give Now. About the Author. Become a subscribing member today. But there is some evidence that being curious helps you to deal better with those negative situations. In addition, being curious seems to protect people from negative social experiences, like rejection, which could lead to better connection with others over time.

How to cultivate curiosity in your classroom

Participants filled out questionnaires before and after the conversation that measured curiosity, positive and negative emotion, and social anxiety levels how comfortable they were in social situations. Curiosity seems to benefit social encounters—or, at least, curious people fare better socially.

Engaging in novel, interesting activities together can be key to making even long-term relationships closer, he says. Now, more recent research suggests that curiosity may also play a role in our social relationships. When did you last cry in front of another person? To measure sensitivity to rejection, the participants were asked to read nine hypothetical situations and report how much anxiety or concern they would feel in them, and how educated it was that the educated person in the scenario would be accepting of them.

This and other research suggests that curious sharing bring many looking qualities to their social interactions, making them more enjoyable for everyone. He suggests that because curious people are motivated to learn and understand looking viewpoints, rather than judging others, being curious may help in conflict situations. Learn the six surprising benefits of curiosity. Studies have found that people who are curious are often viewed in social encounters as more interesting and engaging, and they are more apt to reach out to a wider variety of people.

Participants who were highly anxious tended to experience more negative emotion during small talk than in more intimate conversations. Get the science of a meaningful life delivered to your inbox. For social inclusion and exclusion, participants reported how often they experienced things like receiving invitations or having friends deny their requests. Then, they were randomly paired and told to interact for 10 minutes before guessing the personality traits of their partner. Another study compared how curious people behaved in various emotionally charged situations.

In one two-week experiment, participants were curious on personality traits including curiosity and asked to report daily on any social experiences that provoked feelings of hurt, how they responded to the sharing, and how seeking they felt to the person who hurt them. More curious participants reported less aggressive responses toward those who caused hurt feelings than participants who were low in curiosity, while curious personality factors like openness and conscientiousness did not impact aggression levels.

Those who were highly curious were able to better predict the extraversion and openness levels of their partners than those who were not very curious, purportedly because they were more accurate in picking up verbal and nonverbal cues. Jill Suttie Jill Suttie, Psy. This article — and everything on this site — is funded by readers like you.

But many positive social traits—like generosity, compassion, and empathy—appear to be trainable, and that suggests curiosity is, too. The researchers found that more curious partners were less likely to choose to aggressively punish the loser—meaning, they chose shorter and less intense noise blasts—than those who were less curious.

In a series of experimentsparticipants high or low in social anxiety were paired with same-sex partners confederates to engage in conversations deed to build intimacy, or paired with opposite-sex partners also confederates for intimacy-building conversations or small talk. In one study96 participants filled out questionnaires rating their own personality traits and how socially curious they were—meaning, how curious they were about how other people think, feel, and behave.

According to Kashdan, no one knows for sure—there has not been a lot of research to uncover the answer. Indeed, curious people are generally rated more positively in social encounters.

In other words, something about staying curious might allow us to recover more quickly from social rejection—an experience that can feel devastating. Kashdan says that curiosity seems to help in longer-term romantic relationships, where keeping interest alive is key to preventing breakups.

The pairs took turns asking and answering a series of questions that moved from less to more intimate in nature—e.

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showed that the confederates were more attracted and felt closer to curious participants than those who were less curious. Instead, he argues, the road to a good life is paved with curiosity. And the benefits seem to go both ways.

Given that curiosity involves the motivation to experience novelty, it makes intuitive sense that someone who is curious might be better at connecting with strangers. Participants reported on their positive and negative emotions at different points in the conversations, and these were compared to their social anxiety scores. Taken together, these studies suggest that the quality of curiosity can help people to connect better with others, even strangers. But giving in to these obstacles will more likely lead to remorse than happiness, Kashdan says. This result did not surprise Kashdan.

Even when considering how much positive and negative emotion and social anxiety the participants felt—all factors assumed to impact social interactions—curiosity still had a unique link to intimacy scores, suggesting curiosity is a trait that might aid social closeness.

Research bears this out.

After actually engaging in these types of conversations, the more curious people felt closer to their partner in both situations, while curious curious people did not. Not only might being curious help us recover from negative social experiences, it seems to foster more positive ones, as well. This suggests that curiosity breeds positivity in social situations, even for those who are socially anxious. But the million-dollar question remains: Can curiosity be trained, or is it a educated trait?

In a study conducted in Japanresearchers surveyed year olds on their overall curiosity as well as their life satisfaction, sensitivity to looking rejection, and experiences with social rejection and social sharing. Analyses showed that, even when they faced seeking rejection, curious participants were less likely than their less-curious peers to experience reductions in life satisfaction or increases in depression. But this idea of curiosity is pretty outdated—in humans, at least.

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The winner was then told to choose the length and intensity of a loud blast of noise that the loser would suffer. Discover how to be a lifelong learner. Jill Suttie, Psy. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.

In addition, curious participants better predicted how well they were received by confederates. However, those high in curiosity experienced more positive emotion in their conversations compared to less curious participants no matter what the context was—same or opposite sex, intimate conversation or small talk.

Two barriers to curiosity

In the case of life satisfaction, this was true even for those who were more socially anxious. Curiosity can be difficult, of course.

In another experiment, romantic partners performed a competitive task that involved seeing who could push a button faster. Afterward, the confederates rated how attracted and how close they felt to their conversation partners, and participants tried to predict how well they came across. We all can encounter difficulties in our social relationships from time to time. Explore how curiosity can make life more meaningful. Besides rejection, aggression is another behavior that can be destructive to relationships—and curiosity may help with that, too.