Student Research Projects

The Effects of Trait and State Curiosity on Pursuit of Difficult Tasks

Student Amber Grader
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course Independent Research in Psychology


Research has defined curiosity as comprising (a) novelty-seeking behavior, (b) an intense interest toward some type of stimuli, and (c) a desire or motivation to find and explore these novel stimuli. In the present research, a scrambled sentence task was used to prime state curiosity (curiosity at a particular moment) to examine the independent and joint effects of state and trait curiosity (a person’s general tendency to be curious) on task pursuit. Participants were randomly assigned to receive the curiosity prime or a neutral prime. After the prime, participants indicated whether they would like to pursue a second task and the preferred level of task difficulty, and then completed a measure of trait curiosity. Results indicated that participants higher in state curiosity were more willing to participate in a second, unrelated study and participants higher in trait curiosity as well as participants higher in state curiosity were more likely to select a more novel, complex, and difficult task. The future implications of this study include the manipulation of state curiosity in future research and the potential for activating and harnessing state curiosity in the classroom and elderly people.


Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists - Fall 2011