Excessive Curiosity

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Day’s Zone Model of Curiosity includes zones where curiosity and willingness to explore are overwhelmed by too much.
Excessive curiosity can lead to too much uncertainty, too much complexity, too much unfamiliarity[1]. Reisman confirms this point by stating that “Curiosity is a good thing, like onion soup. But too much onion soup makes your breath smell terrible. And too much curiosity can make your whole body smell terrible, if it causes you to be dead” [2]. So what comes as a result from this observation is that exploring the unfamiliar can lead to danger and anxiety.
In the following paragraph we provide you with an example of excessive curiosity and its negative results within an organization.

Icarus Paradox

Icarus of Greek mythology is said to have flown so high, so close to the sun, that his artificial wax wings melted and he plunged to his death in the Aegean Sea. The power of Icarus's wings gave rise to the abandon that so doomed him[3]. The paradox of course is that his greatest asset ,and his unreasonable and excessive curiosity led to his destruction.

Likewise, companies’ exaggeration may lead to failure. When companies taken to excess the same things that drive their success, this also cause decline[3]. Their success leads them to specialization and exaggeration, to confidence and complacency[3].

We focus on an example that Miller refers to in his article: “the inventing trajectory”. The inventing trajectory takes” Pioneers” with unexcelled R&D departments, flexible think tank operations, and state-of-the-art products, and transforms them into utopian “Escapists” run by a cult of chaos-loving scientists who squander resources in the pursuit of hopelessly grand and futuristic inventions[3]. The Pioneers are innovators that think creatively and they promote change within the organization. Their main concern is to invent new products and new technology and in order to achieve that they use their scientific and technological capacities that they acquire. In addition they promote collaboration and willingness to exchange ideas with their design teams. But eventually their curiosity becomes excessive and they focus more on one specific task in order to excel in it and in the end this becomes their obsession. Thus, they become Escapists who are obsessed with their projects and they desire to satisfy their overwhelming curiosity by introducing impractical products that are too expensive to develop and too costly to buy.

For further information regarding the role of Curiosity in the Adaptive Cycle go back to Group 2 Student Lecture.


  1. Borowske, Kate., Curiosity and Motivation-to-Learn. Paper presented at ACRL 12th National Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota. April 07-10, 2005
  2. Michael Reisman,(2008). Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Danny Miller, (1992). The Icarus Paradox:How Exceptional Companies Bring About Their Own Downfall.