The 5 Types Of Curiosity And Their Characteristics

The types of curiosity

Human beings are very curious beings. We want to know everything and about any situation, person or object, and that is why we do not stop collecting all types of knowledge that appear around us.

However, just as there are all types of people, there are also different types of curiosity. These can depend on both the objective and the context in which the person finds themselves.

Let’s see a little more in depth how many types of curiosity there are why it is a somewhat difficult concept to define and some proposals that have been made.

How to classify the forms that curiosity takes?

The human being is a curious animal by nature. All people, to a greater or lesser extent, like to discover new things It is true that there are people who are more inclined to discover things that are out of their routine than others, since this in itself is a personality trait within the dimension of openness to experience. But, regardless of how open to experience we are, the truth is that we cannot help but be curious at some point in our lives.

If we had to make a list of types of curiosity, we would surely come up with many types, each depending on factors such as context, motivation, the personality traits of the person displaying it, and a long list of aspects. For example, we could talk about joyful curiosity, need, stress, experiences, social and other categories, many of them based more on general culture than on scientifically based research.

So, in a very general sense, we could say that there are as many types of curiosity as there are contexts and people. However, Many psychologists have wanted to establish a taxonomy of curiosity, a classification system for the types that are believed to exist, something that we will see in extensive detail a few paragraphs below. At the moment it is agreed that, strictly speaking, there would be 5 types of curiosity and these would be related to two interesting styles or patterns of curious behavior.

The 5 types of curiosity: a classification

Todd B. Kashdan, from George Mason University, together with his collaborators, carried out a study in 2017 that helped them create a taxonomy of types of curiosity. These types would be the following 5:

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1. Joyful exploration

Joyful exploration coincides with the classic, popular culture idea of ​​curiosity. It would be the one It manifests itself when we are looking for something related to new knowledge or information motivated by joy, by the desire to learn something that we did not know It would be the curiosity we show when we want to know what a new brand of yogurt tastes like, who built a building or what the mating pattern of sea lions is.

2. Sensitivity to lack

Sensitivity to lack is a type of curiosity whose emotional stimulus is negative, such as tension or anxiety

It is that desire that we feel when we want to know how a historical event that is included in the history exam developed, how a mathematical problem that we are going to be evaluated on is solved, or we want to know what will happen in the next chapter of our favorite soap opera after knowing that one of the characters has been unfaithful to the protagonist.

3. Stress tolerance

Stress tolerance is activated when doubt or anxiety is accepted in the face of new events that are complex and mysterious

This type of curiosity, in one way or another, helps reduce resistance to changes that may occur when receiving new information. It is the type of curiosity that motivates us to ask ourselves what could lie beyond fear, like when there is a change in the government of our country or there is a change in company policy.

4. Social curiosity

Social curiosity would be that which involves wanting to know what other people think and do by observing, talking, or gossiping This curiosity is synonymous with the desire to know the lives of others through different media, such as social networks, gossip programs, news programs, newspapers…

5. Thrill Seeking

The search for emotions is what It leads us to seek new experiences at the cost of taking physical, social and financial risks An example of this type of curiosity would be what we feel when we want to explore risky sports, travel to an exotic country, try drugs or invest in the stock market.

Hunters and meddlers

As we have just seen, Kashdan proposed a taxonomy of five types of curiosity, which would manifest themselves in different contexts. However, other studies have tried to see to what extent curiosity is related to our mood and what role it plays with our emotional well-being. Given that curiosity has a nature with such unclear limits, trying to measure it objectively has been a real challenge.

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One of the most recurrent methods to measure curiosity has been see to what extent the participants felt “hooked” with a series of activities, how many questions they asked and how they gossiped with the researcher about the topic or objective of the task what they had been asked to do.

However, this methodology has several problems, among them that they only serve to measure the curiosity explicitly shown by the participant and do not serve to make typologies of it. Furthermore, it must be taken into account that the dimension of extraversion can lead to the belief that a curious person, simply because he or she is introverted and unassertive, is less interested in the activity that has been proposed.

Taking all this into account and knowing how complicated it is to clearly define types of curiosity, David M. Lydon-Staley’s group entered the field of philosophy to study two styles of curious behavior and see how they manifested different curious behaviors. : the hunters or “hunters” and the busybodies or “busybody”.

His method of looking at these two styles of curious behavior is quite innovative. His experiment was to use Wikipedia, the largest free encyclopedia on the entire Internet that, among its many advantages, is that it does not have ads and its pages allow you to jump to others by clicking on words highlighted in blue. In addition, the page has its own classic browser with pages organized into articles, which allows you to search for a topic very easily.

The study was carried out with a sample of 149 participants who were asked to freely browse Wikipedia during the 15 minutes that each daily session lasted for a period of 21 days, adding up to a total of 5 hours in which each of the subjects was spent browsing this online encyclopedia. To study its behavior, researchers used a branch of mathematics called graph theory.

Graph theory is a method that helped researchers see where their participants were navigating Without going into details about this complex theory, what we can highlight is that through it the researchers were able to see if the participants were looking for Wikipedia articles that were thematically related or if they jumped from topic to topic, thus showing curiosity, interest in things. that they read, but in different ways.

It was thanks to this study that they were able to conceptualize a new dimension of curious behavior, in which one extreme corresponds to hunters and the other to meddlers. The hunter style is characterized by searching for information closely related to a topic, delving into that same topic and without going too far into the topic On the other hand, the busybody style is one in which one jumps from topic to topic, collecting a wide variety of information and without delving into it.

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By using Wikipedia and leaving the participants complete freedom to satisfy their curiosity, the researchers were able to overcome the limitation of extraversion since, thanks to this method, both introverts and extraverts had the same opportunities to browse. Regardless of how assertive they were, participants clicked links and used the browser completely freely, without feeling inhibited by doing so.

Curiosity styles

The curiosity styles we just looked at and the 5 types of curiosity above are related. It should be noted that curiosity styles, shown in the form of navigation patterns within Wikipedia, are not fixed styles, that is, a person is not just a hunter or just a nosy, but can change the style of curious behavior depending on how you sit down and what kind of curiosity you show. That is to say, the hunter-meddler dimension is a very variable continuum, which depends more on the context than on one’s own personality.

In that same study, the researchers administered a questionnaire before each browsing session through the encyclopedia with the intention of understand what factors influence the appearance of one style of curiosity or another Among these indicators were curiosity, sensitivity to lack, and the search for emotions. As we have mentioned, the first would be a curiosity to fill gaps in knowledge that feel stressful, while the second would be related to feeling new sensations, feeling exciting experiences.

These same researchers saw, when measuring sensation seeking before doing the Wikipedia browsing session, that people tended to take longer steps, that is, jump from topic to topic when this type of dimension was high. The same thing happened if the participants indicated having less sensitivity to lack, not feeling the need to delve too deeply into what they read, traits typical of an intrusive style.

Seeing this, have hypothesized that the type of curiosity at the moment influences the style of curious behavior that is manifested If you have to study for an exam or delve deeper into a certain topic on which we are going to be evaluated, sensitivity to absence occurs and a hunter-type style is applied. On the other hand, if you are reading or researching for pleasure, wanting to discover something new, a busybody style is applied, showing that we can be one or the other depending on our objective.