Increasing curiosity through autonomy of choice

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Nicola S. Schutte.

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Schutte, N.S., Malouff, J.M. Increasing curiosity through autonomy of choice. Motiv Emot 43, 563–570 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-019-09758-w

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Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Autonomy of choice
  • Autonomy support
  • Curiosity
  • Self-Determination Theory