Why we do the things we do

I was reading an the transcribed copy from a conversation between Ira Flatow and Dr. Paul Bloom on the NPR show Science Friday.  This show was titled, “Why we like the things we like” and I think it highlights some very interesting insights that we could all learn from.

The following excerpt is a great example of the Drive to Challenge and Comprehend.

FLATOW: Well, you led into a topic I wanted to ask you about, and that is the pleasure of just learning about things. It’s – you know, just knowing more. I mean, I find that extremely pleasurable, and I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, or else they wouldn’t be tuned to this program.

Dr. BLOOM: There’s a pleasure about learning things as individuals. There’s a pleasure of science, of coming to know about the universe. And I think these are profoundly important pleasures.

And I think to some extent they are captured by evolutionary theory. So the starting point for a lot of our pleasures is that they’re biological adaptations. It’s why we like food. It’s why we like sex. It’s why we like the company of other people. And it’s also why we have a curiosity.

It is very beneficial for an animal like we are to be motivated to explore the world and to get a flush of pleasure from discovering new things. And I think this shows up even in very young children, who have this great joy of exploration, this great curiosity. And it shows up in institutions like science, which are sort of social solutions to the problem of how do you maximize this pleasure of learning more.

Drive = Pleasure

I love how they talk about how learning is pleasurable.  This is key to understanding how this drive motivates.  The actual act of learning is pleasurable and something that we as people, seek out and do.   It is also important to note that Dr. Bloom talks about how this drive is based on evolution.  The same concept is brought up by Lawrence and Nohria in their discussion on this.  We have evolved with these drives.

Look to the Children

Finally, Dr. Bloom’s discussion on how this shows up in children made me chuckle – this really is the “4-year old drive.”  I often feel we loose a little bit of this drive as we get older, but maybe it is just redirected.  Maybe our curiosity changes from understanding how bugs fly to how relationships develop or how people work.

Post a comment – let me know what you think?