Want to be Smarter? Here are 12 Ways Curiosity Helps


Curiosity makes you smarter; but how you may ask, let’s look into the answer.

Curious people are more likely to ask questions and question assumptions; they are also open to new ideas and different ways of thinking and looking at problems. For these reasons, they are great decision-makers because they do not get caught up in the typical patterns of thinking.

There are two different ways of looking at intelligence; the first is based on the assumption that our brains are fixed, and we can’t change how smart we are. The other suggests that our brains aren’t fixed and growth is possible.

Keep reading and we will look into some of the ways that curiosity makes you smarter.

1) Curious People Seek Knowledge

Curious people are driven to know more about the world around them; this desire drives them to explore and learn more about what they experience. Curiosity and knowledge go hand in hand, as without curiosity, you are unlikely to seek out knowledge and will only learn what comes to you.

One way of looking at learning is to consider the school model; at school, we sit in class, and someone tells us what is essential to know. This method is alright if you want to get a general sense of topics. As you get older and more specialized, education gets more focus, but this also tends to happen when you have already chosen a focus or have a career in mind. The problem with this model is that it values structure over discovery.

Another way of looking at learning, which is more relevant for curious people, is the self-learning discovery model.

In this method, the student chooses the topic and learns about it, but then they use what they have learnt to discover more and guide further learning. While this method doesn’t provide a teacher to tell learners what to learn, students have an opportunity to dive deeper and focus on what interests them over what will be on the test.

With either method, curiosity makes you smarter because being driven to learn and discover means you seek out the answers you need and then some more. Part of being intelligent means having access to large quantities of information, the best way to gain that is through curiosity.

2) Curious People Want To Solve Problems

Recently the tap in our shower broke; but rather than call a plumber, I decided I would take apart the faucet and see if I could figure out what was wrong. In 15 minutes, the whole thing was taken apart, and I had already figured out what was broken and what needed replacing. A quick google search revealed that the broken part would be replaced for free if I brought it to a hardware store. The next morning, I got the replacement piece and put the tap back together.

Over the next few days, I asked my friends what they would have done in the same situation, and they all said they would have called a plumber.

In this situation, curiosity motivated me to solve the problem, but it also saved me a couple of hundred dollars.

When faced with a challenge, most people will opt to pay someone else to fix it for them, but then they miss out on a valuable learning experience and ensure they will need to pay again next time as well.

Curiosity makes you smarter because it enables you to solve problems rather than always having to ask for help. Curiosity also allows you to make better choices and ensure that you know how to act properly in the future.

3) Curious People Have a Desire to Understand

Related to the idea of solving problems, curious people have a desire to understand. Sometimes solving problems is a matter of saving money or fixing something, but understanding is about taking a step back and making sense of the process or situation. For myself and my story about the tap, I took it apart because I wanted to understand how it worked; the fact that I solved the problem was more of a happy coincidence.

A desire to understand things is the first step towards solving problems and working things out.

Curious people are smarter because they know the value of understanding and seek out knowledge rather than trying to avoid it. It is impossible to know everything, but we can always try to better understand what we see, and that will invariably lead to better outcomes. On top of this, understanding is the basis of explanation and knowledge.

4) Curious People Create Opportunities

As I mentioned above, a desire to understand led me to take apart the faucet, which enabled me to solve a problem. That whole process created an opportunity for me to save money and gain confidence when it came to fixing things in the future.

Generally, curious people like to dig around and find new opportunities, that said, they aren’t necessarily seeking them out. Instead, they tend to find opportunities in the process of understanding. 

Being willing to look into a problem and sort out what is going on creates solutions and opportunities for progress.

Curious people are smarter because of their willingness to look where others tend to avoid. In other worse, curiosity people can find treasures where others see trash, as a willingness to explore increases the odds of finding something that hasn’t been found before.

Smart people seek opportunities, while curious people create them through discovery and the willingness to metaphorically get their hands dirty while looking at things with an open mind.

5) Curious People Seek New and Unconventional Connections

One of the ways that curious people are smarter is that they have been exposed to lots of different ideas that may not be directly connected. The more ideas someone is exposed to, the more divergent or non-linearly they can think; for this reason, curious people are able to connect new and unrelated ideas in useful ways.

Research suggestsOpens in a new tab. that socially distinct outsiders can bring different ideas and change a groups’ dynamic to enable unconventional thinking and better decision making. The idea here is that being an outsider helps you challenge the group and encourage innovations that might not have been possible otherwise.

People who are curious have exposure to more ideas, so they can think as an outsider in any group.

Curiosity makes you smarter because it exposes you to more ideas than you’d typically have, which enables you to better contribute to groups and create the potential for connecting unconventional ideas.

6) Curious People are Open To New Ideas

A few people I know who consider themselves smart are incredibly closed-minded. It isn’t so much that they don’t like new ideas; instead, they aren’t all that curious and dedicate more energy to developing and strengthening the ideas they already have. Another way of looking at this is that the more specialized you get, the smaller your world view about it becomes, but this is where curious people are different.

Curious people are always exploring new and different ideas; in some ways, this might serve as a disadvantage as they may not make the best specialists. But this willingness and experience with novel ideas broaden their horizons and makes it easier for them to see the value of distinct or unrelated concepts.

The benefit here is that there is usually value in connecting seemingly unrelated ideas.

As a word of caution, it isn’t beneficial to be too open-minded as being open to everything means there are also bad ideas that get accepted. But generally speaking, curious people are smarter because they are willing to at least humour or investigate ideas that other people in their field may ignore or write-off before being given a fair chance.

Another point to clarify here is that the world needs specialists, but it also needs people who can see the connections between specializations and bring those connections the attention they deserve.

7) Curious People are Active and Engaged Thinkers

One of the benefits of curiosity is that it requires an active and engaged mind. We can make this assumption because to be curious, one needs to continually be willing to ask questions, if those questions aren’t externally focused, then they require internal computation. Being curious also requires that someone is interested in what they are curious about; this often means that they took the time to think about the topic and discover what parts of it interest them.

This is a little difficult to break down as an obvious question is, are active thinkers curious, or does curiosity lead to being a dynamic thinker? I can’t say for sure, but it does seem like the two are tightly related. As a person who is always thinking, I need to do something to keep myself occupied; for this reason, I’ve always been interested in lots of different topics and have been spent years of my life researching the things that interest me.

Being curious makes you smart because it means that your brain is usually active and doesn’t want to be lazy.

This is true because if someone has a lazy mind, they won’t be very interested in learning new things or even digging into new topics.

8) Curious People Ask Lots of Questions

One of the most prominent traits of a curious person is the relentless question asking. As a parent of a young child, I’m privy to the sorts of questions that children ask, and as young learners, kids are infinitely curious about everything cause almost everything is new to them.

One thing that tends to happen as we get older is that we stop asking questions; this is either because we lose our curiosity or we are more confident in what we know and believe about the world. Of course, the problem is that if we let ourselves go down the path of not asking questions, then we will have trouble learning new things because asking a question is the first step in learning something new.

Curiosity makes you smarter because it means you haven’t stopped asking questions, which means you are still open to the possibility that you don’t know something.

If you can realize that you don’t know something, then you can learn about it, and knowledge leads to better decisions making and that is what we tend to consider intelligence.

9) Curious People Don’t Limit Themselves to Orthodoxy

One of the biggest obstacles to a deeper understanding of the world around us is an unwillingness to step outside the confines of traditional or acceptable thoughts. Many of us would like to pretend that we are intellectually honest and looking for the truth, but we often get caught up in accepting the orthodoxy (traditions) of our culture without question.

Curious people aren’t limited to the socially acceptable answers; instead, they are interested in the truth, even if that truth may hurt some people’s feelings. For this reason, when a curious person looks into something, they don’t stop where most people will; instead, they dig till they find the truth.

Most of the information that we take for granted are simple answers rather than perfect ones; for that reason, there is always more to the story if someone is willing to seek it out.

Curiosity makes you smarter because being willing to seek out the truth helps you gain a better understanding of ideas that most people would give up or stop before truly understanding. Sometimes the truth hurts, but if you aren’t worried about that, you can get past the comfortable truth and move onto the actual truth that lies beneath.

10) Curious People are Open To Understanding Different People

With an openness to new ideas and different ways of thinking, it is inevitable that curious people will also be open to different sorts of people with different sorts of ideas. From my own experience as a curious person, I’ve never had a problem with being friends with people who were considered weird or outsiders. Don’t get me wrong; these people weren’t criminals or anything, just strange to more ordinary people.

The advantage of being friendly with different people is that they tend to have different ideas that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Orthodoxy is perpetuated because most people want to fit in and get along with the people around them; for this reason, they often aren’t willing to question the ideas that most people take for granted. Thus, outsiders tend to be attracted to different views as they are outside of the group and not confined to its group thinking.

Being curious makes you smarter because when you are open to new ideas and different people, you can get exposed to ideas that most people are too afraid to confront. With these distinct ideas, you can be more open to the truth than most other people who don’t want to be exposed to outsiders.

11) Curious People Are Motivated

Motivation is a subjective quality; some people may believe themselves to be motivated, whereas others will disagree. But when it comes to curiosity, motivation is an apparent driving factor, as, without motivation, one doesn’t have the ability to be curious. Now that said, the type of motivation that drives someone to seek answers and asks questions isn’t always the same as the motivation to get a better job.

We can say that people who are curious are by necessity motivated because they wish to find the truth or the best answers to the questions they ask.

Curious people also keep digging for truth even if it doesn’t pay off as quickly as they would like; for this reason, motivation and curiosity go hand in hand.

For myself, I can say that curiosity has motivated me to stay up way too late researching topics or do things that I would otherwise be afraid to do. When one seeks out difficult answers, they have to have the motivation to keep looking even after most people would have given up.

Curiosity makes you smarter because it keeps you motivated and enables you to keep looking for the answers you seek, even when they don’t come easy.

12) Curious People Question Assumptions and Avoid Confirmation Bias

I have talked about how curious people ask questions and are willing to clash with orthodox; for this reason, they are also able to question their assumptions, which will help them avoid confirmation bias. So many of our beliefs are based on assumptions that we have often not tested or confirmed for ourselves. On top of this, usually, if we hold strong convictions, we are anchored to them and look to prove them further rather than actually seek the truth.

Confirmation bias is destructive to learning because it is anti-curiousness, whereas a curious person looks for the answer no matter what, someone suffering from confirmation bias will seek confirmation of what they already believe no matter what.

Being open-minded and curious allows us to look at what we believe and questions whether or not that is the right interpretation.

If we fail to do this, we can never move forward with our learning or our concept of truth.

Curiosity makes you smarter cause you don’t get hung up on believing what you already think; instead, you desire the truth and are willing to seek it even if it doesn’t match what you already believe.

There are a lot of reasons why curiosity is essential; the most important reason relates to open-mindedness and the willingness to question assumptions. People who aren’t curious are more willing to accept what they already know and aren’t open to new or potentially contradictory ideas. However, as long as we are open to the possibility that we can get smarter through learning then curiosity will always work to our benefit.

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Robert Carr

Over the years, I've learnt to see things in a different light. This website is my place to share those insights and give my unique perspective on living a meaningful life.

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