CBBM Lecture "Curiosity under uncertainty in younger and older adults" by

Michiko Sakaki, PhD,

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences,

University of Reading


will take place on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 from 15:00 to 16:00 hours in CBBM, Ground Floor, Seminar Room B1/B2.

Host: Prof. Dr. Nico Bunzeck
Institute of Psychology I
University of Lübeck


Curiosity is a fundamental part of human motivation that supports a variety of human intellectual behaviors. But as illustrated in the story of Pandora’s box, curiosity can lead individuals to be exposed even to aversive stimuli. To date, most research on curiosity concerns children or young adults and there has been little attention paid to the role of curiosity in aging populations. In the present study, we tested how age affects curiosity under uncertainty. According to the socioemotional selectivity theory (Carstensen et al., 2011), older adults should prioritize emotion regulation goals over information seeking goals and therefore they would avoid aversive stimuli even when they face uncertainty. Contrary to this prediction, we found that uncertainty has similar impacts on one’s choice across younger and older adults. Specifically, uncertainty increased participants’ choice to be exposed to unpleasant outcomes similarly both in younger and older adults. These results suggest that across younger and older adults, uncertainty drives their choice and behavior even if they understand the possible harms.


Michiko Sakaki recieved her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Tokyo and did her postdoctoral stays in Japan (AIST) and the USA (University of Southern California). In 2013 she joined the University of Reading as Senior Research Fellow with the Marie-Curie Career Integration Grant. Since 2018 she is Associate Professor at the University of Reading and leads the Affect & Cognition Lab.

Sakaki's lab aims to understand how emotion affects cognitive processing, such as memory, attention and decision making, by combining behavioural, psychophysiological and brain imaging techniques (such as functional and structural MRI). We are also interested in how human cognition and emotion change across the adult lifespan.