TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Curiosity may be dangerous for cats but it's great if you're a student, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from some 50,000 students who took part in about 200 studies and found that curiosity was as strong as conscientiousness in influencing academic performance.

Together, curiosity and conscientiousness are as important as intelligence in getting good grades, the researchers concluded.

The study appears in the journal Perspectives in Psychological Science.

The finding that curiosity is so important for students didn't surprise study co-author Sophie von Stumm of the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland.

"Curiosity is basically a hunger for exploration," she said in a journal news release. "If you're intellectually curious, you'll go home, you'll read the books. If you're perceptually curious, you might go traveling to foreign countries and try different foods."

Both types of curiosity can benefit students.

"Teachers have a great opportunity to inspire curiosity in their students, to make them engaged and independent learners. That is very important," von Stumm said.

She added that employers should be aware that people with a strong sense of curiosity may enjoy and be eager for new learning tasks on the job.

"It's easy to hire someone who has the done the job before and hence, knows how to work the role," von Stumm said. "But it's far more interesting to identify those people who have the greatest potential for development, i.e., the curious ones."

More information

Early Childhood Australia has more about curiosity.