Why do we ask less as we age?

I had the good fortune of listening to Andrew Sobel recently about ‘Clients for Life’ and one of the good traits to have was to be ‘curious’ and ‘ask a lot of questions’. He also joked about how a small kid will have around 100+ questions a day and by the time we are 50, the number of questions is down to 1 or 2 and it is usually – ‘Whats for dinner?’ or something routine. Well, we are all aware of that very well – so I didnt really think about it then. Couple of days back, my daughter (4 yrs) asked me ‘How does the right hand automatically know that it is itching in my left hand and it does the job by itself?’ I was literally thrown off my chair. So, I realized that not only our quantity, but the quality of questions also goes down as we age. Its been ages since I was asked such a great question by someone around my age. Any clues on why/how this happens? More importantly, how can we conciously reverse the same? Can we teach a person to be more curious? I’ll try to do some research myself, but in blogosphere spirit, thought I’ll post it here first. PS: Of Course, I am a super-dad now having answered that tough question.


  1. Anonymous said May 15, 2007, 11:28 pm:

    Good post Mr. Super Daddy. I attended Andrew’s session and I remember that observation as well I’m not sure why this happens. One clue that I can think of is this -as we grow older is there anything we are curious about? (Leaving aside the dinner menu :)) In my case, curiosity decreased for a time say from age 15 to 23 or so. Then my curiosity started in creasing and I should say now my curiosity is at a personal high. I don’t why and how this happened.


  2. Anonymous said May 16, 2007, 2:26 am:


    Very good post. I do think the secret to staying young forever is to be intersted and curious and the sure sign of aging is losing interest.

    Is there a transcript of Andrew Sobel session available anywhere.

  3. Anonymous said May 16, 2007, 8:42 am:

    Great Post. I do think about this a lot. My curiosity was actually very low until 30. Then it increased so much now that i am always looking out with questions. The reasons which has triggered me are the resources available – internet is one big reason,Stress free life where i think something other than what’s for dinner and what’s my deliverable at work tomorrow and definitely trying to answer my son’s questions and trying to be a super mom to my kids.

    I googled a little to research on this topic and found that there are two different

    curiosities -spontaneous and guided curiosity,as we age the spontaneous curiosity goes lower guided curiosity grows up.This is mainly because we do have questions, but on specific topics as we grow up and focus on one thing at a time.

    I found this interesting study by Kirk Daffner on the connection between brain activity and aging. “To age well live like a child ” where it suggests lifelong curiousity is a key to brian health.


    This study by Jason Piccone gives more insight on how a parent or a caregiver would play a role in a child’s curiousity and exploratory behavior.The page also contains lots of interesting links.




  4. Anonymous said May 16, 2007, 12:26 pm:

    Wow Sujatha. Very insightful comment. You have provided some excellent links as well. Spurred on by your comment, i figured how my curiosity started increasing from around age 22/23 – i started reading non-fiction like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance (and books like that) + thought provoking fiction like Ayn Rand. These types of books change your perspective on life and force you to think. They generate a lot more questions in your mind that sort of force you to find the answers. Once my curiosity got piqued this way, i never looked back. In my case, my wife Priya Raju is also very curious so that further fueled my curiosity.

    You sort of alluded to this by saying you have the Internet. You can say blogging has fueled my curiosity as well.

    Just from your comments i can see how much you have changed since you were with us in Florida. Way to go Sujatha.

  5. Anonymous said May 17, 2007, 8:54 am:

    Thanks Sukumar. As you had mentioned the different forums like search engines, bulletin boards, wikis and blogs really help people find answers to their questions at a click of a button. I do think ours and the future generations have a greater opportunity to educate themselves and be aware of the world around them with all these forums of knowledge.


  6. Anonymous said May 18, 2007, 12:08 pm:

    Archana, I dont think a transcript is available. Let me see if I can find something.

    Everyone else, Thanks for the comments – encouraging and definitely makes me more curious. So let us see if we can find something more.

    Am going through a classic Knowledge Transfer Phase here with a team – wish I had a way to make the team more curious 🙂


  7. Anonymous said May 18, 2007, 8:31 pm:


    This is interesting. Does that mean that our curiosity increases as the probability of finding an answer to a question increases? Why is that so?

    I would have thought the opposite to be true – atleast to some extent. Leaving aside personality traits such as folks who get easily frustrated and give up easily, I would have thought the more difficult it is for one to an find an answer to a question, the more curious one gets and the itch to resolve the question gets stronger.

    Comparing generation to generation, does that mean that the internet generation in general will be more curious than the pre-internet generation? And more importantly, will it benefit the society in any significant way? Besides the flattened world, I believe that the increased awareness of the internet generation about issues that affect society in general is a huge benefit.


  8. Anonymous said May 18, 2007, 10:40 pm:


    Good point but the probability of finding answers with related information brings in new questions and keeps the curious mind dig deep for more details. Whether a person is really curious or not, everyone across the board has some answers whereas the pre-internet generation it was’t easier. My point is internet has made even the easily frustrated group of people look out with curiousity. This generation definitely has more answers than the previous generations.

    I do think it benefits the society in a significant way when we see people across the globe talk about issues like Global warming,energy conservation medical breakthroughs etc.


  9. Anonymous said May 19, 2007, 8:27 pm:

    Things I searched for today (being Saturday)
    1) Why Qatar did not join UAE?
    2) African Tourism
    3) Iceland vacation
    4) Al-Saud family details and their relationship with Wahhabism
    5) South Indian Temples
    Curious minds have no bounds with the resources available today.
    I can relate to what Sujatha commented.

  10. Anonymous said May 19, 2007, 10:47 pm:

    Excellent discussion Ganesh, Sujatha, Vamsi and Sibu.

    I agree with Sujatha and Vamsi. When you find answers to what you’re looking for your curiosity increases further. I had a written an article about why google is addictive and this is one of the reasons. Even if you look at it from a neuroscience point of view (see my article on ABC theory and the brain), when a behavior is rewarded, it gets further reinforced. On the contrary if you don’t find what you’re looking for it may frustrate the person. This is what was happening in the pre-google days with old search engines.


  11. Anonymous said May 22, 2007, 2:36 am:

    I wanted to leave a comment, but it has turned out to be a post in itself. Head over to my blog.

  12. Anonymous said May 22, 2007, 10:07 am:

    Excellent post Raj. I left a comment but it went into the moderation queue.

  13. Anonymous said May 22, 2007, 10:22 am:

    Sibu – Good question. I think curiousity is like playing. The young of most advanced species indulge in them, since playing & curiousity serve useful purposes.

    For e.g.: Lion cubs playfully bite their parents, to learn how to use their teeth as adults. Likewise, young children are curious about many things, since they need to learn a lot of things that they’ll need in their adulthood.

    Most adults know enough (at least they think) to survive in their respective environments. So, questioning & learning stop.

  14. Anonymous said May 22, 2007, 10:23 am:

    Oops. The previous comment is by me.

    – Priya

  15. Anonymous said June 29, 2007, 4:26 am:

    The answer may lie in fear of ridicule. We are worried more about our public image as we age, since it affects our personal and professional lives. I wish there could be a study on the number of questions that get lost between the brain and the mouth, that would show us whether it us our curiosity that is killed or our lack of trepidation.

  16. Anonymous said July 17, 2007, 3:20 pm:

    Very interesting article. It reminds of something i read a little while back (i dont exactly remember the name of the book, but i guess it was by John Maxwell), where the author mentions the curiosity indicates whether the person is growing or not.
    While most people stop growing physically when they are in 20s, the sad part is they also stop growing mentally around the same age and that is when you see people stop asking questions

  17. Anonymous said July 18, 2007, 10:12 am:

    Good point Rohan. Fear of ridicule is definitely a big inhibitor.

  18. Anonymous said July 18, 2007, 10:14 am:

    Thanks for stopping by Rakesh. I haven’t read that book. Curiosity is probably the secret of staying young. I wish more people realized that.