December 8, 2021

Curiosity is the natural and innate capacity for inquisitiveness, evident in the observation of many animal species, and in the aspect of living beings that engenders exploration, investigation and learning. Curiosity is part of the human instinct, as it makes a being explore the universe around him, compiling new information that he already has. Any picturesque information is also called that way. In particular, many observers think that curiosity is a special kind of the larger category: information seeking.

Classic Descriptions

Philosopher and psychologist William James called curiosity "the drive for better cognition," which means it's the desire to understand what you know you don't know. He noted that, in children, it leads them to objects of romance, sensational qualities - which is "bright, vivid, surprising". This first definition of curiosity, he said, later gives way to a "higher and more intellectual form" - an impulse towards more complete scientific and philosophical knowledge. Psychologist-educators G. Stanley Hall and Theodate L. Smith (1903) pioneered some of the early experimental work on the development of curiosity, collecting questionnaires and child biographies of mothers on the development of interest and curiosity. The history of animal curiosity studies is almost as long as the history of the study of human curiosity. Ivan Pavlov, for example, wrote about the behavior of spontaneous orientation in dogs to new stimuli (which he called the "What is it?" reflex) as a form of curiosity. In the mid-twentieth century, exploratory behavior in animals began to fascinate psychologists, in part because of the challenge of integrating it into rigorous behaviorist approaches. Some behaviorists counted curiosity as a basic drive, effectively forgoing providing a direct cause. This ploy proved useful even as behaviorism declined in popularity. For example, this vision was realized by Harry Harlow, the psychologist known for demonstrating that infantile rhesus monkeys prefer the company of a soft surrogate mother over a bare wire mother. Harlow referred to curiosity as a basic drive in its own right - a "manipulative motive" - ​​that drives organisms to engage in puzzle-solving behavior that did not involve tangible reward.

The evolution of curiosity

Information allows for better choices, more efficient searching, and more sophisticated comparisons. The acquisition of information is the main evolutionary objective of the sense organs. In this way, it is possible to affirm that curiosity was and continues to be one of the main drivers of human evolution throughout history. Research indicates that our society only reached the current levels in relation to the organization as a result of the joint action of collective curiosity.


There are several different types of curiosity. Psychologist Daniel Berlyne distinguished between the types of curiosity most commonly exhibited by humans and non-humans along two dimensions: perceptual versus epistemic, and specific versus diverse. Perceptive curiosity refers to the driving force that motivates organisms to seek new stimuli, which decreases with continuous exposure. It is the main driver of exploratory behavior in non-human animals and potentially also human children, as well as a possible driving force in the exploitation of human adults. The opposite perceptual curiosity was epistemic curiosity, it can be described as an impulse aiming "not only to gain access to stimulation with information, capable of dispelling the uncertainties of the moment, but also to acquire knowledge". Epistemic curiosity can be said to apply predominantly to human beings,

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