People who show strong curiosity traits on personality tests perform better on creative tasks, according to a new study.
This is especially true for those with a strong diversive curiosity trait, or curiosity associated with the interest in exploring unfamiliar topics and learning something new, the study said.
The findings contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that testing for curiosity traits may be useful for employers, especially those seeking to fill complex jobs, said lead author of the study Jay Hardy, Assistant Professor College of Business, the Oregon State University, US.
“This research suggests it may be useful for employers to measure curiosity, and, in particular, diversive curiosity, when hiring new employees,” Hardy said.
Diversive curiosity is a trait well-suited to early stage problem-solving because it leads to gathering a large amount of information relevant to the problem. That information can be used to generate and evaluate new ideas in later stages of creative problem-solving.
On the other hand, people with strong specific curiosity traits, or the curiosity that reduces anxiety and fills gaps in understanding, tend to be more problem-focused.
While diversive curiosity tends to be a more positive force, specific curiosity tends to be a negative force.
For the study, researchers asked 122 undergraduate college students, to take personality tests that measured their diversive and specific curiosity traits.
They then asked the students to complete an experimental task involving the development of a marketing plan for a retailer.
Researchers evaluated the students’ early-stage and late-stage creative problem-solving processes, including the number of ideas generated.
The students’ ideas were also evaluated based on their quality and originality.
The findings, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, indicated that the participants’ diversive curiosity scores related strongly to their performance scores.
Those with stronger diversive curiosity traits spent more time and developed more ideas in the early stages of the task.
Stronger specific curiosity traits did not significantly relate to the participants’ idea generation and did not affect their creative performance.