Process Account of Curiosity and Interest: A Reward-Learning Perspective



Murayama K, FitzGibbon L & Sakaki M (2019) Process Account of Curiosity and Interest: A Reward-Learning Perspective. Educational Psychology Review, 31 (4), pp. 875-895.

Previous studies suggested roles for curiosity and interest in knowledge acquisition and exploration, but there has been a long-standing debate about how to define these concepts and whether they are related or different. In this paper, we address the definition issue by arguing that there is inherent difficulty in defining curiosity and interest, because both curiosity and interest are naïve concepts, which are not supposed to have a priori scientific definitions. We present a reward-learning framework of autonomous knowledge acquisition and use this framework to illustrate the importance of process account as an alternative to advance our understanding of curiosity and interest without being troubled by their definitions. The framework centers on the role of rewarding experience associated with knowledge acquisition and learning and posits that the acquisition of new knowledge strengthens the value of further information. Critically, we argue that curiosity and interest are the concepts that they subjectively construe through this knowledge-acquisition process. Finally, we discuss the implications of the reward-learning framework for education and empirical research in educational psychology.

Intrinsic motivation; Intrinsic rewards; Reinforcement learning; Information seeking; Incentive learning; Folk psychology

Educational Psychology Review: Volume 31, Issue 4

FundersLeverhulme Trust, JSPS Kakenhi and JSPS Kakenhi
Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online13/08/2019
Date accepted by journal17/07/2019
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

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Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology