The seductive lure of curiosity: information as a motivationally salient reward



FitzGibbon L, Lau JKL & Murayama K (2020) The seductive lure of curiosity: information as a motivationally salient reward. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 35, pp. 21-27.

Humans are known to seek non-instrumental information, sometimes expending considerable effort or taking risks to receive it, for example, ‘curiosity killed the cat’. This suggests that information is highly motivationally salient. In the current article, we first review recent empirical studies that demonstrated the strong motivational lure of curiosity – people will pay and risk electric shocks for non-instrumental information; and request information that has negative emotional consequences. Then we suggest that this seductive lure of curiosity may reflect a motivational mechanism that has been discussed in the literature of reward learning: incentive salience. We present behavioral and neuroscientific evidence in support of this idea and propose two areas requiring further investigation – how incentive salience for information is instigated; and individual differences in motivational vigor.

Behavioral Neuroscience; Psychiatry and Mental health; Cognitive Neuroscience

Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences: Volume 35

FundersJacobs Foundation and The Leverhulme Trust
Publication date31/10/2020
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology