Increasing curiosity through autonomy of choice

  • Nicola S. SchutteEmail author
  • John M. Malouff
Original Paper


This study examined the effect of satisfaction of the basic psychological need for autonomy on curiosity. One hundred and fifty-four participants first completed measures of autonomy-need satisfaction and curiosity. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a condition that supported autonomy of choice or a condition not supporting autonomy of choice. The autonomy-choice intervention provided participants with choice of topic for a video they could watch, while those in the no-autonomy of choice condition did not have choice. All participants then rated their curiosity regarding the topic of the video. Results showed that participants whose need for autonomy was more satisfied had higher levels of curiosity. Participants randomly assigned to the autonomy of choice condition providing choice of topic showed greater curiosity regarding the topic than participants who did not have a choice of topic. Autonomy of choice was most beneficial in stimulating a high level of curiosity about the topic for participants who had low general autonomy need satisfaction. The results of the study support the importance of self-determination in fostering the emotion of curiosity.


Autonomy Autonomy of choice Autonomy support Curiosity Self-Determination Theory 



This research was not supported by external funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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