How do Curiosity, Meaning in Life, and Search for Meaning Predict College Students' Daily Emotional Exhaustion and Engagement?

College students face numerous academic demands on a daily basis. The resources of the University and of the students to cope with these demands are essential to explain students' levels of well-being. The purpose of this investigation is to explore the role of day-level curiosity and meaning in life in the explanation of students' levels of engagement and emotional exhaustion at night. Two-hundred and nine college students participated in a daily study of five consecutive academic days, completing measures of curiosity and meaning in life in the afternoon and measures of engagement and emotional exhaustion at night. Data were analyzed using MLwiN software from a hierarchical linear modeling and daily approach. Curiosity in the afternoon showed a positive relationship with levels of engagement at night, and a negative relationship with levels of emotional exhaustion at night. Moreover, the interaction of curiosity and search for meaning and emotional exhaustion was positive. Although curiosity drives to exploring opportunities and challenges, decreases exhaustion and promotes daily engagement, when curiosity interacts with other emotional loads (such as search for meaning), it can become an emotional overload favoring exhaustion. From this perspective, it is necessary to continue investigating the mechanisms that predict students' well-being and to create academic environments that stimulate curiosity and support students in their search for meaning in life.

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