• Paul J. SilviaEmail author


Concepts related to interest, curiosity, and learning motivation appear in a wide swath of scholarship. This chapter develops a perspective on curiosity that is grounded in modern models of motivation and emotion. A functional approach seeks to understand human curiosity in terms of the functions it serves for near-term adaptation and long-term human development. I suggest that curiosity serves three related functions: (1) it motivates people to learn for its own sake; (2) it serves as a counterweight to anxiety, which motivates avoiding new things; and (3) it serves as a counterweight to enjoyment, which motivates sticking with tried-and-true sources of reward. The chapter ends by considering some definitional issues (such as whether “interest” and “curiosity” are different states), exploring relationships between curiosity and other emotional states (e.g., surprise, confusion, and awe), and examining individual differences related to curiosity.


Curiosity Interest Motivation Knowledge seeking Competence Functionalism Awe 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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