Our study-methodology

The Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany State of Curiosity Report builds on research first initiated in the United States in 2015. That initial work involved an online survey that engaged 2,606 employees in the United States who shared opinions about the role of curiosity in the places where they worked; however, only 1,013 responses were weighted to represent the population. Participants were also asked to identify barriers and enhancers of curiosity in the workplace setting. Their discrete answers were collected and analyzed using the statistical software packages SPSS and STATA. Survey elements, including the Curiosity Index, were rigorously tested and validated with U.S. respondents through factor and reliability analyses prior to implementation in the United States.

The survey questions were linked to one of four curiosity categories, or ‟dimensions”:

  • inquisitiveness
  • creativity in problem solving
  • openness to other ideas and 
  • distress tolerance

Cumulative scores helped to generate a final Curiosity Index, or overall curiosity measurement, for both individual employees and their respective employers.

In 2016, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany expanded the curiosity study to include two additional online surveys, engaging 1,002 workers in China and 1,000 in Germany. Data from these two later studies were analyzed using STATA. The sample for this report includes 1,002 workers in China, 1,000 in Germany, and 1,013 in the United States. Data is weighted for age, education, location, and other variables as appropriate to represent the larger populations.

In addition to the surveys, focus groups were conducted with two-dozen workers in China and Germany. Participants were involved with innovation in their companies and shared more about the relationship between innovation and curiosity. The focus groups encouraged participants to build on each other’s ideas and develop a more in-depth understanding of the link between curiosity and innovation. Their thoughts helped us more fully understand and contextualize our survey data, and we’ve highlighted some of their insights throughout this report.


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