We will ask how children and adults from different religious backgrounds respond to people who demonstrate religious curiosity, i.e., an internally motivated desire to learn new information about religion. We will unite approaches from social, cognitive, and developmental psychology and the cognitive science of religion to answer 2 Big Questions: How do people respond to curiosity? What is the role of religion and spirituality in human experience? The 6 studies will address 3 specific questions: 1) What is the relation between views of curiosity in different domains? Prior work has emphasized people’s own scientific curiosity; we will discover how people evaluate others’ curiosity regarding science and religion. 2) How do perceptions of religious curiosity change across development? 3) What are the consequences of perceptions regarding curiosity? This project is needed to clarify how perceptions of religious curiosity are similar to or different from perceptions of scientific curiosity, to determine how social input guides responses to curiosity, and to investigate how cultivating appreciation for one virtue (curiosity) may increase other virtues (e.g., generosity). By accomplishing these goals, the project will contribute to theorizing regarding curiosity, religion, and development. This work will also offer insights that may increase virtues such as generosity.
Results will be shared with scientists and laypeople. Deliverables include 4 peer-reviewed articles, 14 conference abstracts, and 6 outreach pieces (e.g., op-eds). This research will lead to enduring impacts in 3 areas: 1) increasing scientific knowledge of religious curiosity; 2) promoting interdisciplinary research; 3) increasing laypeople’s scientific understanding and engagement. These impacts will promote new discoveries and collaborations among scientists. They will also lead to knowledge that can help people cultivate virtue and involve children and adults in scientific discovery.