What we are going out of curiosity

The desire to satisfy their curiosity can be so strong that some of us are willing to deliberately unpleasant and painful consequences, just to find out what interests them.

What we are going out of curiosity

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US researchers decided to test the hypothesis that people are willing to knowingly tolerate unpleasant or even painful just to satisfy even the "idle" curiosity, not promising any benefit.

They conducted a series of experiments. The first was attended by 54 students, who were unaware of the true purpose of the study. Participants were invited into a psychological laboratory and asked to wait. While waiting for them, as it were, by the way, showed a set of special pens that when you press hurt beat shock. Students are told that the handle remained in the laboratory from previous experiments, however, were allowed to take them to press buttons, ostensibly to not get bored while waiting.

It is not all the students left the same set of pens. Some of them have got the handle marked with colored labels "red" was beaten shock, and "green" are safe. Another group of students went to the set of "yellow" handles, while they were told that some of them beaten shock, while others - not.

As expected, curiosity got the better: the students are not too interested in pens, which were clearly labeled (on average once pressed the button a green pen and twice - the red button), but usually wanted to find out whether the current beat yellow handle - in average they tried to press the five of them. In the second experiment, the students left for 10 pens for each color, and again they were more interested in "mysterious" yellow handles. In a third experiment, the participants showed a computer monitor 48 with virtual buttons. Part of the buttons has been designated as a "nail," and when you click on them was played jarring rattle nail on the blackboard, the other buttons have been labeled as "water" and plays a sound of murmuring water, on the other buttons was a question mark, and they can play when you press either of these two sounds. Various participants showed these buttons in various proportions. It turned out that when most of the buttons are a question mark, the participant clicked on average by 39 different buttons, and when their purpose was mainly known - it is only 28.

It is noteworthy that after the experiment, participants were asked about their psychological state. Those who got the most "mysterious" buttons, and who, consequently, more succumbed to curiosity, to feel worse.

"In order to satisfy their curiosity, people often do not think through the potential benefits and costs, and strive to find answers to their questions, even if obviously know that it will only harm them", - the authors conclude.

For details, see S. Hsee, B. Ruan "The Pandora Effect: The Power and Peril of Curiosity"., Psychological Science, March 2016.