Priming, enabling and assessment of curiosity

  • Keren Ben-Tov Sher
  • Michal Levi-Keren
  • Goren GordonEmail author
Development Article


In the information age, where all answers are just a click away, curiosity, the intrinsic drive to learn, becomes of paramount importance. How easy is it to prime for curiosity and what are its effects? What simple interventions can be used to enable curiosity-driven behaviors? We have conducted a large-scale study to address these questions, using a novel curiosity-based application (app) on university applicants. Using the same app, we addressed the issue of curiosity assessment, which in recent years has mainly been performed via self-reporting questionnaires. The curiosity assessment tool was developed in order to assess curiosity via an objective, quantitative and digital way. The tool measured several behavioral aspects during a free and task-less interaction with the tablet app. From the recorded activity logs we calculated quantitative behavioral measures related to their exploration patterns. We show that a single word can prime the participants and induce better learning of their self-explored knowledge. We also show that by simply enabling more time to explore, without the ability to stop at will, induces more exploration and more learning. Finally, we show that our behavioral measures, obtained with the digital quantitative assessment tool, are significant predictors of the participants’ self-reported curiosity and Psychometric Entrance Test scores. These results suggest that simple priming for curiosity and enabling enough time to explore improve self-paced learning, and that a relatively simple and short interaction with a digital app can greatly improve state-of-the-art curiosity assessment.


Curiosity Digital assessment Behavioral measures Higher education 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Work was funded by the Jacobs Foundation and by the Israeli Science Foundation, Grant No. ISF 2129/16.

Conflict of interest

G.G. has received a speaker honorarium from Samsung Ltd., owns stocks in Curiosity Robotics Ltd. and consults for Endor Ltd. and Intuition Robotics Ltd.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curiosity Lab, Department of Industrial EngineeringTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and ArtsTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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