Curiosity. EN

Carmen López

Psicóloga. Master en Recursos Humanos.



Para buscar talento no hay que leer currículos uno tras otro, sino seguir el rastro que deja: Un trabajo excelente. Porque lo importante no es lo que aprendes, o las empresas en las que trabajas. Lo importante es lo que haces. 

Para realizar un trabajo de forma excepcional hacen falta cinco cosas: Energía, enfoque, tiempo, creatividad y un compromiso absoluto con la calidad. 

Detrás de estos cinco pilares solo hay una cosa: la motivación. La motivación es lo que diferencia al campeón mundial del segundo clasificado. La motivación hace correr a un corredor de maratón hacia la meta cuando ya no tiene fuerzas, a un escalador alcanzar una cumbre imposible, a un creador luchar consigo mismo hasta que su obra está perfecta. Con motivación sacas tiempo de donde no hay, mantiene tu nivel de energía y concentración al máximo, ves las cosas de forma diferente. Con motivación eres capaz de tirar un trabajo casi perfecto a la papelera y empezar de cero hasta que sea excelente. 

La motivación se genera por la necesidad. Está claro: si alquilen tiene hambre, no hay duda de que pondrá todos sus recursos mentales, físicos, financieros y su tiempo en satisfacer esa necesidad. La necesidad es el motivo, la necesidad dispara la motivación. Esto no es nuevo. En los años 30 del pasado siglo, Abraham Maslow propuso una teoría sobre las necesidades humanas. Según ella, la gente que moviliza sus recursos lo hace por causa de una necesidad: comer, sexo, dinero, pertenencia a un grupo, reconocimiento o autorealización… 

Pero para encontrar la fuente del talento aún tenemos que buscar más allá de la necesidad. No hay duda de que las necesidades físicas anulan al resto: El hambre, la sed, evitar el dolor… pero en el ámbito que nos movemos, en economías desarrolladas, estas necesidades suelen estar cubiertas. La mayoría de las personas están motivadas por las llamadas necesidades superiores, las que nos distinguen del resto del reino animal: Dinero, aceptación o pertenencia a un grupo, reconocimiento o autorealización. Y como muy bien saben los expertos en marketing y los buenos vendedores, las necesidades se pueden crear, cambiar o matizar. Solo hace falta controlar una cosa: Las convicciones. Si alguien está realmente convencido de algo se convierte en imparable.


Las convicciones son el origen de todo lo demás.


Curiosity is a primary characteristic of talented people. Curiosity makes you look forward to learning, improves the memory process and turns learning into a pleasant activity.

Curiosity is a hunger for learning

When hunger strikes it turns on the
brain reward circuit. Our body detects the shortage of nutrients and initiates the hungry feeling. In that moment, it is necessary to satisfy it. When we eat, the brain reward circuit secretes dopamin and we feel good. So next time we feel hunger we will now exactly what to do to restore our well-beign: eat.

The brain reward circuit was made to ensure our existence not just as individuals but also as species, because along with hunger and thirst our BRC is liable for the sexual response. When we have a vital need the circuit "kidnaps" us and distract our atention to food, water or sex.

Dopamine is very important in this system. It triggers desire and a craving for reward, setting off our motivation.

Dr. Matthias Gruber from the University of California has discovered thar curiosity , like hunger, triggers the brain reward circuit. When we are curious, learning becomes pleasant, something that our brain will try to repeat. It´s not uncommon that we speak about a "hunger for knowledge", because that´s precisely what curiosity provokes.

Our brain has placed the learning mechanism exactly in the same exact place where we find the control of the activities upon which our survival depends. Nature´s message is clear: Learning guarantees our survival as individuals and species.

Dr. Gruber discovered that when we experience curiosity the BRC secretes dopamine... and the activity in the hippocampus is increased. That part of our brain is related to memory, so it improves our capacity to remember what we are learning in that moment. That is why we learn so fast when we learn somethig interesting.

But the most unnexpected result of that experiment was the demostration that curiosity not only enhances our capacity to learn what you are interested in, but everything in that very moment that surrounds you: sound, faces, environment and everything that comes through our senses. Curiosity is more of a state than simply a drive; a state that makes us more aware about the world that surround us.

Curiosity generates profit

In the actual economic environment, all life-long learning has become a competitive advantage. Having a barchelor and master´s degree and speaking different languages when you are twenty-five years old can open many doors in the job market, but to keep on and grow you have to adapt and expand your knowledge and skills. Otherwise you will be out of date. The most competitive companies know the relationship between life-long learning and productivity. Tom Peters, the famous guru of management, devotes 80% of his time to investigation and learning and 20% to writing, speaking at conferences and management. And he has not done badly!

Life long learning is fundamental to companies and people. Curiosity is the key to expanding your learning skill. Growing curiosity among our staff will therefore increase our learning and competitiviveness. 

But, can we make curiosity grow in a person or a team? How? The answer to the first question is yes. For the second question there are different solutions.

How to awaken curiosity

1. The new and the unexpected. In the sixties, Daniel Berlyne developed the concept of perceptual curiosity. There are perceptual stimulus that suddenly grans our attention. The new, like the first iPhone, or the unexpected, like an elephant in the middle of the city, turns our curiosity on.

Showing the learning material from a brand new perspective or with unexpected media produces fantastic outcomes. 

2. Information gap. Lowenstein developed this theory in 1994. You can instigate curiosity when you give incomplete information. Naturaly, human beigns try to fill the gaps until we have a complete picture or idea. That´s why puzzles or word searces are so addictive. Lowenstein also proved that the closer the answer is, the bigger the curiosity.

When we want to remember the name of a person and we have it on the tip of the tongue it´s nearly impossible to give up. We try until we got it! Curiosity wins.

3. Information´s Significance. When companies ask their employees to learn a skill or knowledge, or a school or university demand their students to do so, the best practice is to tell the people why it is important. Curiosity grows when something is important, specially when it´s important for us. That´s why kids are not interested about interest rate or mortgages. It´s not a direct concern for them. But the parents pay attention, because it´s important for their finances.

4. Information´s usefulness. Can I apply this knowledge or skill to something valuable? An aeronautical engineer will read a book about aerodynamics with more atention than a Latin book. (At least in a majority of the cases). He can apply the first book to his work, but not the second.

5. A story. We are social animals and all information about others inmediatly awakens our curiosity. We love tales, real or imaginary. That´s why we have movies, books, theater and gossip. Learning is more effective when instead of data, there are people, their motivations and the relationships between them. When we remember the concept of gravity, we can imagine Newton sitting under the tree and the apple falling. But only a few can write the formula.

If you want somebody to learn something, don´t give him a 500-page book. Wake up his curiosity.