A love for thinking brings benefits way beyond school and work

A love for thinking brings benefits way beyond school and work

Josephine Zerna writes:

What is it that draws you to an article about a topic like psychology? Why not just mindlessly scroll through the feeds on your phone instead, or stare out the window? Perhaps it’s because you enjoy cognitive effort – which means you would likely score high on a trait called ‘need for cognition’.

In everyday life, people can often choose how hard they want to flex their mental muscles. You might make that choice without even knowing what, exactly, motivates it. If you want to watch some Netflix after work, you could opt for a lighthearted sitcom – or you could pick a mystery with several timelines. If it’s game night, you might vote for playing Twister, or instead for a complex strategy game like Twilight Imperium. And if you’re taking a trip somewhere, you might stick to the basic level of planning needed to get you there, or you might think it through further, researching interesting stops and favourable routes, and mapping out a more detailed plan. All of these involve choices between different degrees of cognitive effort, and you might vary from hour to hour in terms of how much effort you are motivated to put in.

Still, some people tend to be more inclined toward cognitive effort overall than others are. Need for cognition is a way of describing this more stable difference between people. You can think of it as a spectrum, ranging from someone who usually does the bare minimum of thinking needed to get through life to someone who finds flexing their mental muscles as delightful as a bodybuilder finds flexing their physical muscles. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.