Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1986

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Kenneth Olson


The relationships between induced uncertainty and curiosity and between induced uncertainty and learning were investigated in young, middle-, and older-age adults. Participants were asked to select the most frequently occurring words in the English language form words lists. Uncertainty was induced by varying the difficulty of this task. Participants gave confidence ratings about their performance and curiosity ratings about the answers to the tasks. Learning was measured by an incidental recognition test of the correct task words. Results indicated that distinct levels of uncertainty were induced by these tasks. While performance decreased with increasing task difficulty for all age groups, confidence ratings followed this declining trend for young adults only. Decreased performance trends were not reflected in the confidence ratings of older adults. While curiosity ratings about the task were high for all groups, a linear relationship was found between increasing uncertainty and increasing curiosity for young adults only. Results also indicated an inverted U relationship between uncertainty and learning for all age groups. Finally, no age differences were found on state and trait curiosity measures given to all participants.


Copyright 1986 Mary S. Dietrich


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