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The Need to Learn


Explanations > Needs > The Need to Learn

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?




We have a deep need to learn, to make sense of new things in the world around us, to discover how things work and how they fit in with all our other knowledge. Children in particular are driven to learn about their environment and consequently how to survive and thrive.


A person spends a lot of their life deliberately taking different courses, sometimes going deeper on specialist topics and sometimes trying something completely new. Some helps their career, some they just find interesting.

A teacher works by stimulating curiosity and providing opportunity for their students to explore. They are far more successful than another teacher who stands at the front of the class and dictates facts.

Related to


Part of Related to
Control, Arousal Novelty, Stimulation



Learning is critical for evolution, where not understanding the world around you can be fatal. As a result, our brains give us a shot of natural opiates when we learn. This is the buzz of 'aha' and, can quite literally, be addictive, as can be seen in academics, scientists and other inveterate learners.

We do not always want to learn. This can be because:

  • We just do not have the time.
  • The issue is too trivial to be worth the effort.
  • We think we should already know and others will look down on us for not knowing.
  • We fear that what we will learn will cause us difficulties.
  • We fear that we will not be able to learn and so appear foolish.

As a result, when we are faced with something we do not understand, we have several choices:

  • Ignore it and hope it will not recur.
  • Reinterpret it as something we do understand.
  • Learn a bit about it so we can cope with it.
  • Learn more about it so we really understand it.

The extra effort of learning may also mean that we will put off learning until we have time and the mental energy for the task.

So what?

Beware of ignoring the things that you should know or otherwise avoiding learning. It is better to be a 'learning junkie' than a dodo.

Use learning carefully as a reward when persuading people. If you want to teach, make it fun. Also tailor your message and training to your audience, going slow or fast, using theory or practice, depending on their natural learning styles.

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