Research shows that interests powerfully influence our academic and professional choices. When we’re interested in a task, we work harder and persist longer, bringing more of our self-regulatory skills into play.
So what is interest? Interest is a psychological state of engagement, experienced in the moment, and also a predisposition to engage repeatedly with particular ideas, events, or objects over time. Why do we have it? Interest acts as an “approach urge” that pushes back against the “avoid urges” that would keep us in the realm of the safe and familiar. Interest pulls us toward the new, the edgy, the exotic. Interest “diversifies experience.” But interest also focuses experience. In a world too full of information, interests usefully narrow our choices.