pandoras box The Pandora Effect: Why curiosity beats common sense

Curiosity is often a positive thing: it is at the heart of scientific progress, for example. But it also has a negative side.

“Rubbernecking” – gawping at car crashes when we drive past – is one such example. A government-sponsored study of accidents on the M6 motorway attributed 29 per cent of them during the study period to drivers rubbernecking in the opposite carriageway. The issue was eventually tackled by the UK Highways Agency,  who reduced accidents by erecting giant screens at crash sites.

The problem is we just can’t help ourselves. In a recent study, researchers have found that we’re still curious even if we know the outcome will be negative.

Christopher Hsee of the University of Chicago and colleagues dubbed the tendency to opt for an uncertain outcome even when we know it might have unpleasant consequences,  the Pandora Effect.

Read the rest of this article at New Scientist – the home of Brain Scanner, my weekly column.  Image: Marcelo

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