State of Curiosity

State of Curiosity

Survey and Findings

In 2015, we worked with curiosity experts to develop definitions and launch a curiosity survey among U.S. workers. This survey measures employee levels of curiosity and the level of curiosity supported by their employers. For 2016, workers in China and Germany were also surveyed to begin to understand global curiosity levels (n=3,015). The State of Curiosity Report captures the findings from the survey research as well as insights from focus groups and curiosity and innovation experts. Continue to see highlights from the State of Curiosity Report.

Employer Curiosity Index Score of Total Sample (Mean Score from 0 to 100)

Everyone
China
Germany
USA

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employer Curiosity Index

Employer Inquisitiveness

Employer Creativity

Employer Openness

Employer Distress Tolerance

Breaking Curiosity Down

Breaking Curiosity Down

Overview

Curiosity involves recognizing, seeking out, and even preferring things that are new, unusual, and outside of one’s normal experience. Curiosity has been broken down into measurable units, or dimensions: 

  • inquisitiveness - asking questions and exploring ideas
  • creativity in problem solving - a willingness to try new solutions
  • openness to other ideas - preferring a variety of experiences and perspectives and 
  • distress tolerance - the ability to meet the unfamiliar with bravery rather than anxiety. 

These categories help us understand curiosity as a concept and measure levels.

Key Findings

The survey yielded both Employee (how individual respondents score across the four dimensions) and Employer (how individual respondents score their employer's support for curiosity across the same dimensions) Indexes.

There is less variability in the Employer Curiosity Index scores by dimension than there is in the Employee Curiosity Index scores by dimension.

Among curiosity dimensions, employees rank lowest on distress tolerance.

Among curiosity dimensions, employees rank the places they work lowest in support for inquisitiveness and highest in distress tolerance.

Distress Tolerance Index Scores of Total Sample (Mean Score from 0 to 100)

Employee Distress Tolerance

Employer Distress Tolerance

Employee Distress Tolerance

Employer Distress Tolerance

Our research reveals a quantifiable measure of curiosity. A key ingredient to curiosity is distress tolerance.

We need tools that fully address what makes a person curious. A multidimensional measure can do this.
– Dr. Todd Kashdan on the value of curiosity dimensions
62 This piqued my curiosity

Curious Employees

Curious Employees

Overview

Here we look at the most curious employees and explore the traits they exhibit. We explore age, motivations, and attributes which all have an impact on curiosity levels.

A Highly Curious Employee is More Likely to:

... recognize that his or her organization provides time to explore new ideas.

… recognize employers allow employees to choose their own means to accomplish tasks (autonomy).

Self-identify as organized, collaborative, and energetic

Though it is only the third-most-often cited characteristic, there appears to be a significant association between being “energetic” and scoring HIGH on the Curiosity Index.

Work at an organization that is very or extremely encouraging of curiosity

For HIGH Curiosity Index workers who rate their organization as “very encouraging” or “extremely encouraging,” we note that 56% of these employees received a HIGH inquisitiveness score and are the most likely to have high openness and creativity.

Be highly satisfied at work

Over half of job-satisfied workers received a HIGH creativity score.

Have final decision-making authority

Workers with final decision-making influence and lower distress tolerance may tend to prefer safer decisions, promoting an environment less conducive to colleague curiosity and company innovation.

Recognize organization's encouragement of curiosity

83% of workers feel their organization is at least somewhat encouraging of curiosity.

Hold a management-level position

Workers in leadership roles, such as a manager or higher, have the highest Curiosity Index scores; and these scores can be considered HIGH.

Key Findings

More than eight in ten (84%) respondents said that it is a curious person who is most likely to bring an idea to life at work, but the majority of these employees do not consider themselves to be curious workers (over two thirds).

There is a relationship between curiosity and job satisfaction. Workers who are “extremely satisfied” with their jobs are most likely to be highly curious.

In China and the United States, millennial workers have the largest percentages of HIGH Employee Curiosity Index scores.

In Germany, baby boomers have the largest percentages of HIGH Employee Curiosity Index scores.

Job-Satisfied Employees by Curiosity Dimension (in %)

HIGH Inqui­sitive­ness

HIGH Creativity

HIGH Openness

HIGH Distress Tolerance

HIGH Inqui­sitive­ness

HIGH Creativity

HIGH Openness

HIGH Distress Tolerance

Hiring for intellectual curiosity means that candidates are not only qualified and thoughtful, but they are capable of thinking beyond the role they are interviewing for.
– Tony Vartanian, cofounder of Lucktastic, in a recent interview on CIO.com

To foster curiosity in employees, employers need to create a happy work environment.

Workers with final decision-making influence and lower distress tolerance may tend to prefer safer decisions, promoting an environment less conducive to colleague curiosity and company innovation.

Curious employees bring ideas to life at work. They feel energized and satisfied by the work they do and they tend to have a significant role in the decision-making process.

More than half of highly curious employees work for organizations that actively nurture curiosity on the job; and they may be any age, although younger employees tend to express their curiosity more often.

Curiosity Index Scores of Decision-Makers

No Decision-Making Influence

Some Decision-Making Influence

Final Decision-Making Influence

No Decision-Making Influence

Some Decision-Making Influence

Final Decision-Making Influence

To be curious, you need an open mind, you need a willingness to take risks, to go to places you don’t know, and the ability to act with other people and other cultures.
– Dr. Jaap Boonstra, Professor of Management of Organizational Change at the University of Amsterdam
61 This piqued my curiosity

Culture of Ideas

Culture of Ideas

Overview

Here we examine curiosity at the organizational level, analyzing the effects that leadership and company culture can have on workplace curiosity. We dive into the relationship between HIGH curiosity scores and job title. Additionally, we investigate the tactics that organizations can implement in order to foster workplace curiosity.

Key Findings

Workers in leadership roles, managers or higher, have the highest Curiosity Index scores.

Allowing employees to choose their own means of accomplishing tasks is the most commonly identified curiosity enhancer in all three markets.

Time to explore new ideas at work is one of the top three enhancers of curiosity in the workplace.

Curiosity Index Score by Job Title (Mean Score from 0 to 100)

Entry/ Administrative/ Clerical

Professional

Manager and Higher

Entry/ Administrative/ Clerical

Professional

Manager and Higher

Curiosity Enhancers

Survey participants were asked, “Which of the following, if any, does your organization do to successfully support your ability to practice curiosity in your workplace? Please select all that apply.”

Provides me with financial recognition for ideas and projects

Employs creative and innovative individuals and fosters my collaboration with those employees

Provides me with public recognition for ideas and projects

Offers me personal ownership of my projects and ideas

Provides the resources necessary for me to explore my ideas

Provides me with time to explore new ideas

Offers me educational and/or training opportunities

Allows me to choose my own means to accomplish assigned tasks

Offers at least one support to curiosity

Provides me with financial recognition for ideas and projects

Employs creative and innovative individuals and fosters my collaboration with those employees

Provides me with public recognition for ideas and projects

Offers me personal ownership of my projects and ideas

Provides the resources necessary for me to explore my ideas

Provides me with time to explore new ideas

Offers me educational and/or training opportunities

Allows me to choose my own means to accomplish assigned tasks

Offers at least one support to curiosity

Employees are able to recognize organizational efforts to support curiosity.

It’s not just an invitation for each individual to explore, but it allows each individual the time to look around and see what others are coming up with; it allows the time for teams to develop and emerge around projects, to get excited about something, and work together.
– Dr. Jeffrey Loewenstein
60 This piqued my curiosity

Industry Sectors

Industry Sectors

Overview

Here we explore curiosity in four industry sectors.

Three industry sectors are based on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Survey respondents were asked which of 25 industries they worked in and, as appropriate, these were combined into Consumer Discretionary (automotive, apparel, entertainment, etc.), Consumer Staples (food and beverage, household and personal products, etc.), and Financials. A fourth sector, Education, was added due to large numbers of respondents working in this field.

Key Findings

Compared to the overall Employee Curiosity Index score of 60.0, the sectors of Consumer Discretionary and Education have employees with higher curiosity while Consumer Staples and Financials show somewhat lower curiosity levels.

The Employer Curiosity Index score is 56.6 and Consumer Discretionary, Financials, and Education all score higher as workplaces supporting curiosity.

Curiosity Index and Dimension Scores (Mean Score from 0 to 100)

Index
CONSUMER DISCRETIONARY
CONSUMER STAPLES
FINANCIALS
EDUCATION
Employee
Employer

Consumer Discretionary

Consumer Staples

Financials

Education

Consumer Discretionary

Consumer Staples

Financials

Education

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Inquisitiveness

Creativity

Openness

Distress Tolerance

Employees rate their curiosity higher than they rate their employers’ support for curiosity.

Organizations are claiming to value curiosity, but are still discouraging its expression. They promote innovation, yet punish failure. They cling to legacy structures and systems that emphasize authority over inquiry and routine over resourcefulness.
– Dr. Todd Kashdan at a 2015 conference
61 This piqued my curiosity

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