The relation between individual interest and knowledge acquisition

Jerome I. Rotgans*, Henk G. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to examine how individual interest and knowledge acquisition are causally related. Three hypotheses were tested using a cross-lagged panel analysis (N = 186) and two quasi-experimental studies (N = 68 and N = 108) involving students from schools in Singapore. The first hypothesis is the broadly shared standard assumption on the relation between individual interest and knowledge: the more an individual is interested in a topic, the more (s)he is willing to engage in learning. An alternative hypothesis assumes that individual interest is not the cause but the consequence of the process of learning: individual interest as an affective by-product of learning. Finally, a third possibility is that interest and knowledge influence each other reciprocally. The results supported the affective-by-product hypothesis. Our findings seem at variance with commonly held conceptions that being interested guides knowledge attainment. The implications of these findings for interest research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-371
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 British Educational Research Association


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