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How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

If this title made you read the column, I already like you! That’s because, according to How Stuff Works,  curiosity is a big bonding trait. People make relationships based on it, and it’s even more important than whether you choose a partner or friend based on positive or negative traits. (The assumption in these studies is that you choose a cheerful, positive person, but eh, low-key has its attractions, too.)

I don’t think doing crossword puzzles has much to do with being curious. People like to learn, or play games, period. But the writer connects them.

The drive theory helps explain curiosity-seeking behavior. It shows us why we actively look for and engage in crossword puzzles or take up a musical instrument. Not only are these activities inherently superfluous, they also contain the risk of failure.

In the case of this cartoon, the man runs the risk of being slapped by the woman, or having the maitre’d throw him out, but with her, he’s met his match. 🙂

curiosity photo
Photo by Georgie Pauwels

One thing the study doesn’t bring up is the element of surprise. It’s a very strong titillation. For instance, some people want to know how the movie ends,, and others can’t stand any hint about it. I’ve written before about my hobby of buying subscription boxes (usually of beauty samples, often a surprise.) The risk is fairly low for inexpensive boxes, like Birchbox or Ipsy, which are only $10 a month, and can be cancelled at any time, but still – no one likes to be disappointed!

And just like buying lottery tickets, everyone hopes the next box will have a winner. (Though to be fair, there are usually at least a couple of goodies, if not more, in these boxes.)

I always think of birds when I think of curiosity, and sure enough, the last page of the article talks about this.

While this behavior may not fit the definition of human trait curiosity, the fact that the “curiosity gene” found in great tit birds related to dopamine is significant.

Couple things here: why would it not fit the definition of human curiosity? That’s silly. And it’s not just great tit birds — It’s most birds, I’ve observed. And since birds are the most delicate and vulnerable animal, the risk is far higher for them…and yet they can’t resist taking a chance to learn more!

Curious to learn more about me? Please share this column!

Check out my first book (chocolate) and my second book (love, sweet love). And Like my Facebook page to get notified of new cartoons. All rights reserved, and content including cartoon is ©Donna Barstow 2019. Thanks!

And I’m holding up 3 fingers. Maybe.

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

Donna Barstow

Cartoonist for LA Times, Parade, WSJ, Glamour, PsychCentral, Barron's, Weight Watchers, and textbooks & Chicken Soup books. Author and editor of 2 cartoon books and a Barnes & Noble calendar.

I both write and draw all my cartoons. You are warmly invited to share the link to this cartoon. The full-size cartoons are all copyrighted, so please email me at pen.drawing AT g mail (squish it) for rates for use in textbooks, prints, presentations, publications, or websites. Email me AT pen.drawing @ gmail. com. (Squish the address.)

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APA Reference
, . (2019). How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 9 Apr 2019
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