Are we there yet?

If you have ever been in the car with a child for more than 45 minutes you know too well that kids are prone to boredom. I was no exception. Every summer my family would pack the van up to our necks in camping gear, food, luggage and items to entertain me and my brother, Andrew. My father was ready to go a good 2 hours before everyone else, so the rest of us would rush through the usual morning routine to the sound of dad turned coxswain. Eventually we’d pile into the van and the brothers would tune into some game or puzzle. Eventually we’d reach that point, with 5 hours of road behind us and at least six more ahead, when Andrew and I would without fail squirm with restless boredom. And without fail my mother would harp on the virtues of interest and curiosity. Not the kind of transitory curiosity, that peaks in jubilation say after solving that Zelda puzzle on our gameboys, but rather the slow simmer of resilient interest in things, in anything. As we continue to whine in the back seat, “are we there yet?” My mother would again say, “try to embrace interest, and find curiosity in things, just for its own sake. Remember, the fun is in the going not the arriving.” Try as I might, my nine year old self couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. But, over time, I’d come to recognize its power. And, in 2010 decided to write a paper on the matter. Now, I’ll share it with you.

References (with links)

  1. Bar-Anan, Y., Wilson, T.D. & Gilbert, D.T. (2009). The Feeling of uncertainty intensifies affective reactions. Emotion, 9 123-127.
  2. Berlyne, D.E. (1960). Conflict, arousal, and curiosity. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Duckworth, A.L. & Seligman M.E.P. (2005). Self-discipline out does IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescence. Psychological Science, 16, 939-944.
  4. Dweck, C.S. (2007, December). The Secret to raising smart kids.  Scientific American Mind, 69-75
  5. Hebb, D.O. (1955). Drives and the C.N.S. (conceptual nervous system). Psychological Review, 62, 243-254.
  6. Heslin, P.A., Latham, G.P. & VandeWalle, D. (2005). The Effect of implicit person theory on performance appraisals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 842-856.
  7. Kammrath, L.K. & Dweck, C. (2006). Voicing conflict: Preferred conflict strategies among incremental and entity theorist. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1497-1508.
  8. Kashdan, T.B., Gallagher, M.W., Silvia, P.J., Winterstein, B.P., Breen, W.E., Terhar, D., Steger, M.F. (2009). The Curiosity and exploration inventory-II: Development, factor structure, and psychometrics. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 987-998.
  9. Kashdan, T.B. & Roberts J.E. (2004). Trait and state curiosity in the genesis of intimacy: Differentiation from related constructs. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 792-816.
  10. Kashdan, T.B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F.D. (2004). Curiosity and exploration: Facilitated positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82, 291-305.
  11. Kashdan, T.B. & Silvia, P.J. (2009). Curiosity and interest: The Benefits of thriving on novelty and challenge. In Nathan, P.E., Snyder, C.D., & Lopez, S.J. (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (pp. 367-374). New York: Oxford University Press.
  12. Kashdan, T.B. & Steger, M.F. (2007). Curiosity and pathways to well-being an meaning in life: Traits, states and everyday behaviors. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 159-173.
  13. Kruger, J. & Evans, M. (2009). The paradox of Alypius and the pursuit of unwanted information. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1173-1179.
  14. Loewenstein, G. (1994). The Psychology of curiosity: a Review and reinterpretation. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 75-98.
  15. Litman, J.A. (2005). Curiosity and the pleasures of learning: Wanting and linking new information. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 793-814.
  16. Litman, J.A, & Silvia, P.J. (2006). The latent structure of trait curiosity: Evidence for interest and deprivation curiosity dimensions. Journal of Personality Assessment, 86, 75-86.
  17. Mueller, C.M. & Dweck, C.S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 33-52.
  18. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 603-619.
  19. Raine, A., Reynold, C., Venable, P.H., & Mednick, S.A. (2002). Stimulation-seeking and intelligence: A prospective longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 663-674.
  20. Richman, L.S., Kubzansky, L., Maselko, J., Kawachi, I., Choo, P. & Bauer, M. (2005). Positive emotion and health: Going beyond the negative. Health Psychology, 24, 422-429.
  21. Silvia, P.J. (2008). Interest—The curious emotion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 57-60.
  22. Silvia, P.J. & Kashdan, T.B. (2009). Interesting things and curious people: Exploration and engagement as transient states and enduring strengths. Social and Personality Compass, 785-789.
  23. Swan, G.E. & Carmelli, D. (1996). Curiosity and mortality in aging adults: A 5-year follow-up of the Western Collaborative Group study. Psychology and Aging, 11, 449-453.
  24. Wilson, T.D., Centerbar, D.B., Kermer, D.A & Gilber, D.T. (2005). The Pleasures of uncertainty: Prolonging positive moods in ways people do not anticipate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 5-21.

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