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Meta-Interested? An Exploration of Interest from a Positive Psychology PerspectiveBy: Joe Tinkham
State and Trait Interest● Physiological Changes ○ Orientation, activation, concentration, approach action● Facial and Vocal Expressions ○ Forehead and eye muscle movements ○ Head tilt ○ Speak faster rate and with a greater vocal range
State and Trait Interest● Serves Adaptive role ○ serves no immediate adaptive function ■ broaden-and-build -> skills and knowledge ○ interest enhances learning motivation and performance and attention to novel and unfamiliar things● High Trait Interest is characterized by more frequent, intense, and longer curiosity
Intrinsic Approach Motivation● Motivation or desire to develop diverse knowledge and skills ○ basically for their own sake● BIS orients people away from possible harmful stimuli ○ positive correlations between BIS and anxiety● BAS orients people toward possible enjoyable stimuli ○ curiosity may be similar with BAS● Interest possibly acts against avoid motives (failure and anxiety)
Biobehavioral Systems - Reticular Arousal System (RAS)● 4 types of conflict that increase arousal in RAS: ○ novelty, complexity, uncertainty, conflict● Novel and challenging stimuli co-activate both anxiety and curiosity ○ low novel intensity -> low curiosity ○ mid novel intensity -> low anxiety and high curiosity ○ high novel intensity -> high anxiety● Uncertainty Intensification Hypothesis ○ uncertainty amplifies positive response to positive events and negative response to negative events
Curiosity and Anxiety● Individual differences in reticular arousal system (RAS) sensitivity, cognitive attributions, approach-avoidance orientations play a key role in interest, but they are also involved in the expressed of psychopathology● Kashdan, Elhai, and Breen (2008) wanted to examine how individuals with varying levels of social anxiety and trait curiosity related with approach-avoidance conflicts and risk- taking behaviors in social situations. ○ The approach-avoidance conflict increased internal conflict and dysfunction in participants with high levels of both social anxiety and curiosity
Curiosity and HealthPeople with high trait curiosity--people that experience curiositylonger, stronger, and more frequently--had greater life meaning,satisfaction, and engaged in more growth behaviors thanpeople with low trait curiosity.● High curiosity strongly correlates with ○ decreased hypertension ○ longer life ○ less likely to develop degenerative diseases of CNS ○ anxiety was also shown to had moderate negative correlations with hope and curiosity.
Conclusions● Research in positive psychology and interest still growing and still improving methods ○ State/trait characteristics, RAS, BAS● There is a need to further research on how state and trait curiosity develops across a persons lifetime ○ further research into application ■ education, vocation psychology● May offer protective effects, but it is still unclear and may be context dependent ○ e.g. social situations, old age
ReferencesBar-Anan, Y., Wilson, T.D., & Gilbert, D.T. (2009). The feeling of uncertainty intensifiesaffective reactions. Emotion, 9 (1), 123-127.Kashdan, T. B. & Roberts, J. E. (2006). Affective outcomes in superficial and intimateinteractions: Roles of social anxiety and curiosity. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 140-167.Kashdan, T. B , & Steger, M. F. (2007). Curiosity and pathways to well-being and meaning inlife: Traits, states, and everyday behaviors. Motivation and Emotion., 31, 159-173.Kashdan, T.B., Elhai, J.D., & Breen, W.E. (2008). Social anxiety and disinhibition: An analysisof curiosity and social rank appraisals, approach-avoidance conflicts, and disruptiverisk- taking behavior. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 22, 925-939.Michalak, J., Puschel, O., Joormann, J., & Schulte, D. (2006). Implicit motives and explicitgoals: Two distinctive modes of motivational functioning and their relations topsychopathology. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 13, 81-96.Richman, L.S., Kubzansky, L., Maseiko, J., Kawachi, I., Choo, P., & Bauer, M. (2005).Positive emotion and health: Going beyond the negative. Health Psychology, 24(4), 422-429.Silvia, P.J. (2001). Interest and interests: The psychology of constructive capriciousness. Reviewof General Psychology, 5 (3), 270-290.Silva, P. J. (2008). Interest--The curious emotion. Current Directions in Psychology, 17(1), 57-60.