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Poster A71

Drivers of epistemic curiosity in younger and older adults: The role of knowledge confidence and future value

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Megan Vaziri1 (, Liyana T. Swirsky1, Julia Spaniol1; 1Toronto Metropolitan University

Epistemic curiosity – the drive to acquire new information – benefits cognitive engagement, subjective well-being, and physical health across the lifespan, but little is known about adult age differences in factors that drive curiosity. This pre-registered study examined the role of prior knowledge and future utility in epistemic curiosity. Younger and older participants (total N = 100) viewed a series of trivia questions and rated their curiosity as well as their knowledge confidence for each question. Participants then had the opportunity to reveal answers at the cost of waiting 10 seconds per answer, before completing an exit quiz. Some participants were told that all items were equally likely to appear on the quiz, so that the future value of each item was unpredictable (uniform condition). Other participants were told that high-confidence items were more likely to be on the quiz, so that the future value of each item was predictable (confidence condition). In the uniform condition, curiosity (operationalized as answer reveal probability) was maximal for low-confidence items. In contrast, in the confidence condition, curiosity was maximal for moderate-confidence items. Although overall curiosity was higher in older adults, the effects of knowledge confidence and future value on information seeking were similar in both age groups. These findings are consistent with the rational model of curiosity (Dubey et al., 2020, Psych Rev), according to which curiosity serves to maximize cumulative knowledge value. Implications for theories of motivation-cognition interactions in aging are discussed.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024