Curiosity sent Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole and killed Fluffy the cat. It might have dragged you to web pages far, far away from the EPPP study tips you intended on reading. Curiosity compels us to act without regard outcome. This is either bad or good depending on what curiosity is leading you towards.
Author Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today in an article titled “Curiosity: The Good, the Bad, and the Double-Edged Sword” explains:
“From the day we’re born, curiosity becomes a prime driving force that motivates us to explore unknown ideas and territories in search of answers and stimulation. Human beings have an innate desire to close the ‘curiosity gap’ and solve riddles every day.”
Our human desire to close the gap between curiosity and finding the answer (which is the state which Bergland refers to as the “curiosity gap”) can threaten our productivity by distraction or it can peak our productivity by intrigue.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you own a computer and you are probably gearing up to sit the EPPP. Therefore you have likely fallen victim to clickbait that distracts you from EPPP studies.
“Even when being actively curious is not in your best interest, the quest to discover something new can be like an itch that must be scratched. As an example, we all know the feeling of being snagged by a ‘clickbait’ title that coaxes you down a rabbit hole by clicking on a vapid website link that threatens to turn your brain to mush.”
In the case of clickbait, curiosity is not in the best interest of the EPPP studier. In a different scenario, however, curiosity could be in your best interest and peak your productivity. Bergland cited a study that “found that curiosity can be a highly effective way to entice people into making smarter and healthier lifestyle choices.” In the study, students were enticed to make healthier choices such as choosing the stairs rather than the elevator, eating fruit, or watching an educational video.
“In one field study, the researchers created a 10 percent increase in the use of stairs in a university building by posting trivia questions near the elevators and posting the answers in the stairwell. In another, they increased the purchase of fresh produce by placing a joke on the the [sic] placard describing the fruit or vegetable and printing the punchline on the bag’s closures.”
In such an age where social media and clickbait are prevalent distractions from studying, how can curiosity be used to your advantage when studying for the EPPP like it had the students of the research study?
“[…] understanding that curiosity has a dark side could help you modify your behavior and curb potentially self-destructive pursuits driven by the innate urge to close the curiosity gap. This research suggests that you can make better decisions if you stop and consider whether your decision making is being driven by curiosity. And, if closing the curiosity gap will have positive or negative outcomes.”
Overcoming the distracting effects of curiosity or taking advantage of curiosity is all about knowing curiosity when you see it. For instance, the next time you are exploring the internet and come across an intriguing title, ask yourself if you really need to know the information or if it’s just the curiosity gap threatening to distract you. In addition, use the curiosity gap to your advantage while studying by creating a pathway of intrigue through your study schedule. This could look similar the ideas presented in the research study cited by Bergland.
- Preserving Focus in an Age of Distractions
- How Boredom Stands in the Way of EPPP Test Prep Success
- When You’re Not Studying Guard Yourself from Digital Distractions