Human beings are very curious beings. We want to know everything and about any situation, person or object, and that is why we keep collecting all kinds of knowledge that presents itself around us.
However, just as there are people of all kinds, there are also different types of curiosity. These can depend on both the purpose and the context in which the person finds himself.
Let’s take a closer look at the number of types of curiosityWhy is this 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 an inquisitive animal by nature. Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, enjoys discovering new things. It is true that some people are more conducive to discovering things that are out of their routine than others, because this in itself is a personality trait in the dimension of openness to experience. But no matter how open we are to the experience, the truth is, we can’t help but be curious at some point in our lives.
If we had to make a list of types of curiosity, we would surely think of several types, each dependent on factors such as background, motivation, personality traits of the person showing it, and a large list of aspects. For example, we could talk about joyful curiosity, need, stress, experiences, social categories and the like, many of which are based more on general culture than scientifically grounded research.
So, in a very general sense, you could say that there are as many types of curiosity as there are contexts and people. however, many psychologists wanted to establish a taxonomy of curiosity, A system for classifying the types that are supposed to exist, which we will see in detail in a few paragraphs below. For now, it is agreed that strictly speaking there would be 5 types of curiosity and these would relate to two interesting curious styles or patterns of behavior.
The 5 types of curiosity: a classification
Todd B. Kashdan of George Mason University, along with his collaborators conducted a study in 2017 that helped him create a taxonomy of types of curiosity. These types would be the following 5:
1. Joyful exploration
Joyful exploration coincides with the classic and clean idea of popular culture of curiosity. It would be the one 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. That would be the curiosity that we would show when we want to know who knows a new brand of yogurt, who has built a building, or what the mating model of sea lions is.
2. Sensitivity to lack
The sensitivity of the lack is a type of curiosity the emotional stimulus is negative, such as tension or anxiety.
It is this desire that we feel when we want to know how a historical event went that enters the history exam, how a mathematical problem is solved by which they are going to evaluate us or want to know what is going to happen. in the next chapter of our soap opera · The favorite after learning 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, complex and mysterious events.
This type of curiosity, in one way or another, helps reduce resistance to changes that may arise when receiving new information. It is the kind of curiosity that motivates us to ask ourselves what can be beyond fear, for example when there is a change in government of our country or there is a change in trade policy.
4. Social curiosity
Social curiosity would be that it’s about wanting to know what others think and do when they observe, speak or chat. This curiosity is synonymous with the desire to know the lives of others through different media, such as social networks, choir programs, TV news, newspapers …
5. Look for emotions
The search for emotions is what it leads us to seek new experiences to the detriment of taking physical, social and financial risks. An example of this kind of curiosity would be how we feel when we want to explore risky sports, travel to an exotic country, try drugs, or invest in the stock market.
Hunters and gossip
As we have just seen, Kashdan proposed a taxonomy of five types of curiosity, which would manifest in different contexts. However, other studies have attempted to see how curiosity relates to our mood and what role it plays in our emotional well-being. Since curiosity has a nature with such unclear limits trying to measure – objectively has been a real challenge.
One of the most common methods of measuring curiosity has been see to what extent participants felt ‘stuck’ with a series of activities, how many questions and how they discussed with the researcher the topic or purpose of the task what they were asked to do.
However, this methodology presents several problems, including the fact that it only serves to measure the curiosity explicitly shown by the participant and does not serve to make typologies of it. In addition, it should be kept in mind that the dimension of extraversion can lead to believe that a curious person, for the simple fact of being introverted and not very assertive, is less interested in the activity which is for him. proposed.
With all of this in mind and knowing how complicated it is to clearly define types of curiosity, David M. Lydon-Staley’s group delved into the field of philosophy to study two styles of inquisitive behavior and see how they manifest themselves differently. or gossip.
His method of seeing these two styles of curious behavior is quite innovative. His experience consisted of using WikipediaThe biggest shortcuts on the whole Internet which among its many advantages is the ad-free one 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 of pages organized into articles, which makes searching for a topic very easy.
The study was conducted with a sample of 149 participants who were asked to browse Wikipedia freely during the 15 minutes that each daily session lasted for a period of 21 days, or a total of 5 hours during which each of the subjects was. spent to navigate. this online encyclopedia. To study their behavior, the researchers used a branch of mathematics called graph theory.
Graph theory is a method that allowed researchers to see where their participants were navigating. Without going into the details of this complex theory, what we can point out is that thanks to it, the researchers could see if the participants were looking for Wikipedia articles with a thematic relation or if they were jumping from topic to topic. ‘other, thus showing their curiosity, their interest in the things they read, but in different ways.
It was through this study that they were able to conceptualize a new dimension of curious behavior, in which one end corresponds to hunters and the other to gossip. The hunter style is characterized by finding information that is soon linked to a subject, delving into the same subject and without going too far into the subject.. On the other hand, the gossip style is one in which we jump from subject to subject, collecting a wide variety of information and without delving into it.
By using Wikipedia and leaving participants free to satisfy their curiosity, the researchers were able to overcome the limitation of extroversion because, through this method, introverts and extroverts had the same opportunities to chat. Regardless of how assertive they were, participants clicked on links and used the browser completely freely, without feeling embarrassed to do so.
The styles of curiosity we have just seen and the 5 types of curiosity above are related. It should be noted that the curiosity styles, represented as navigation patterns in Wikipedia, are not fixed styles, that is, a person is not just a hunter or just a gossip, but may change her curious behavior style depending on how she is feeling and the type of curiosity she is showing. That is to say that the hunter-gatherer dimension is a very variable continuum, which depends more on the context than on the personality itself.
In that same study, researchers administered a questionnaire before conducting each encyclopedia browsing session with the intention of understand which factors influence the emergence of one style of curiosity or another. Among these indicators were curiosity-type curiosity and the search for emotions. As we mentioned, the former would be a curiosity to fill knowledge gaps that seem stressful, while the latter would be related to feeling new sensations, experiencing exciting experiences.
These same researchers saw, by measuring the search for sensations before doing the browsing session on Wikipedia, that people tended to take longer steps, that is, to jump from subject to subject when this guy of dimension was high. The same was true if the participants indicated a lower sensitivity to lack, not feeling the need to delve into what they were reading, typical traits of a gossip style.
Seeing this, they hypothesized that the type of curiosity of the moment influences the style of curious behavior that manifests itself. If you have to study for an exam or dive into a certain subject that we will be assessed, absence sensitivity is presented and a hunter style style is applied. On the other hand, if you are reading or researching for fun, want to discover something new, a gossip style is applied, showing that we can be one thing and another depending on our purpose.
- David M. Lydon-Staley et al. (2020). Hunters, Busy, and Building Knowledge Networks Associated with Curiosity About Deprivation, Nature Human Behavior DOI: 10.1038 / s41562-020-00985-7
- Kashdan, Todd and Stiksma, Mel and Disabato, David and Mcknight, Patrick and Bekier, John and Kaji, Joel and Lazarus, Rachel. (2017). The Five-Dimensional Curiosity Scale: Capturing the Bandwidth of Curiosity and Identifying Four Unique Subgroups of Curious People. Personality Research Journal. 73. 10.1016 / j.jrp.2017.11.011.