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Curiosity and Creativity

Young Curiosity #2 by Josh ClaytonDirector Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) was asked why he has such a good voice for writing women characters, and he replied:

“One, I write well about things that I’m most curious. Two, I’ve had two long relationships with older women in my life.” [From interview by Rebecca Murray.]

Probably most writers and other artists share his perspective that curiosity fuels creativity in some ways.

Psychologist Todd Kashdan says, “Curiosity has been neglected, even though there are few things in our arsenal that are so consistently and highly related to every facet of well-being — to needs for belonging, for meaning, for confidence, for autonomy, for spirituality, for achievement, for creativity.”

From article Curiosity, an Engine of Well-being: An Interview with Todd Kashdan.

Kashdan also thinks curiosity “appears to be a fundamental motive in facilitating industry and creativity. Writers, artists, inventors, scientists, and others engaged in the creative process often refer to curiosity to describe the compelling psychological need to work at their craft.”

Without curiosity, he adds, “the act of pursuing success, eminence, and creativity is not enough to motivate an individual to consistently maintain 10-, 12-, or even 16-hour workdays at the expense of developing balance between work and other life roles…”

From the post Curiosity may help you find your true potential.

He is author of the book Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life.

Neuropsychologist David Weeks lists a number of characteristics of eccentric people in his book Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness, including: “nonconforming; creative; strongly motivated by curiosity; idealistic (wanting to make the world a better place and the people in it happier).”

[From my article Eccentricity and Creativity.]

Part of what makes curiosity so valuable for our creativity is that it is a kind of “throwback” to childhood, before we had everything figured out and compartmentalized.

Educational psychologist David Palmer, Ph.D. notes, “All children are curious about the world and how it works. But for most, their curiosity is satisfied by simple, concrete answers that allow them to move on to other thoughts and emotions.”

But gifted children, he adds, “may not be satisfied with simple answers. These children often have a need to delve deeper to satisfy their advanced awareness and heightened curiosity.”

From his article Is It Good to Be Gifted?

What gets in the way of our curiosity?

Restricting what we experience may be useful and necessary to a degree, but it can also limit our thinking and willingness to explore.

The old saying “Curiosity killed the cat” was delivered a number of times in my childhood by my mother, with other aphorisms like “Don’t poke your nose where it doesn’t belong.”

Like most moms, she probably meant them as warnings to be careful. But we may carry those cautions into our adult lives as brakes on curiosity and self-exploration.

Fear and curiosity

Gail McMeekin of Creative Success includes on one of her Creativity Cards: “It takes courage to follow your fascinations, wherever they may lead. Creativity demands that you trust and stay on the path, despite any obstacles. The good news is that you can.”

Leonardo da Vinci

“By nature children are curious, but as we grow up much of our inquisitiveness ebbs. Almost all children in their natural state ask lots of questions. That’s how they learn so much in the first five years of life.

“But then we send them to school where they learn that answers are more important than questions. Geniuses like da Vinci, however, maintain a passionate curiosity throughout life.”

– From description of online class by creativity author Michael Gelb: “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.”



Curiosity and Creativity

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). Curiosity and Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Nov 2013
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