Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Being Curious & Open-minded Towards All Phenomena

     In mindfulness training we encourage participants (& ourselves) to be nonjudgmental, have an open mind & be curious towards all arising phenomena, even those we would normally consider unpleasant. 

     "Curiosity is the predisposition to recognize & search for new knowledge and experiences. The psychological urge evoked by curiosity is accompanied by increased engagement with the world, including exploratory behavior, meaning making, and learning. For decades, scientists have narrowly focused on how curiosity is relevant to achievement in school, work, and sports, & an appreciation of art. Curiosity ... is relevant to any context where there is the potential for novelty, uncertainty, complexity, surprise, and conflict between the urges to approach or avoid stimuli. Several scientists have argued that a family of individual difference variables that conceptually overlap with curiosity (ie novelty seeking, uncertainty orientation, need for structure, need for closure, need for cognition, openness to experience) are relevant to healthy social interactions & relationship. The present research extends this work about the relevance of curiosity to social functioning.
Results: A curious personality was linked to a wide range of adaptive behaviors, including tolerance of anxiety & uncertainty, positive emotional expressiveness, initiation of humor & playfulness, unconventional thinking, & a nondefensive, noncritical attitude.  
     Conclusions: This characterization of curious people provides insights into mechanisms underlying associated healthy social outcomes."

     Kashdan TB,
Sherman RA, Yarbro J, Funder DC. How are curious people viewed and how do they behave in social situations? From the perspectives of self, friends, parents, and unacquainted observers. J Pers 2013; 81(2): 142-54. 

     Read "Creativity & The Brain Review":

Jett in deep contemplation - by Amanda Wintink PhD


  1. I did a talk on the neuroscience of curiosity two weeks ago... wasn't entirely from a mindfulness perspective but about how animals approach and avoid things based on a drive to explore. I also talked about how fear/anxiety affects this and that this motivation is a basic assumption used in behavioural neuroscience research to understand many other phenomenon including learning, memory, movement, etc. If interested further have a look:

  2. Thank you Mandy! - I added an active link to your website - interesting article!