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Curiosity (from Latin cūriōsitās , from cūriōsus “careful, diligent , curious”, akin to cura “care”) is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration , investigation, and learning , evident by observation in humans and other animals . [1] [2] Curiosity is strongly associated with all aspects of human development, in which the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill. [3]

The term curiosity can also be used to denote the behavior or emotion of being curious, in view of the desire to gain knowledge or information. Curiosity as a driving force behind the world, but developments in science, language, and industry. [4]


Children peer over shoulders to see what their friends are reading.

Curiosity can be seen as an innate quality of many different species. It is common to human Beings at all ages from infancy [5] through adulthood , [1] and is easy to observe in Many other animal species; these include apes , cats , and rodents . [2] Early definitions quotes curiosity as a motivated desire for information. [6] This motivational desire has stemmed from a passion or an appetite for knowledge, information, and understanding.

These traditional ideas of curiosity-have recently expanded to look at the différence entre curiosity got the innate exploratory behavior That Is present in all animals and curiosity got the desire for knowledge That Is Attributed To SPECIFICALLY humans.


Like other desires and need states, the curiosity is linked with exploratory behaviors and experiences of reward. Curiosity can be described as positive emotions and acquiring knowledge; when one’s curiosity has been aroused and is considered inherently rewarding and pleasurable. Discovering new information can also be rewarding because it can help reduce undesirable states of uncertainty rather than stimulating interest. Theories have arisen in attempts to further understand the need for rectify states of uncertainty and the desire to participate in pleasurable experiences of exploratory behaviors.

Curiosity-drive theory

Curiosity-drive theory relates to the undesirable experiences of “uncertainty”. The reduction of these unpleasant feelings, in turn, is rewarding. This theory suggests that people desire coherence and understanding in their thought processes. When this coherence is disrupted by something that is unfamiliar, uncertain, or ambiguous, it is curiosity-drive theory that attempts to gather information and knowledge of the unfamiliar to restore coherent thought processes once again. Through this theory, general concept dictates that curiosity is developed strictly from the desire to make sense of unfamiliar aspects of one’s environment through interaction of exploratory behaviors. Once understanding of unfamiliar has been achieved and coherence has been restored, these behaviors and desires will subside.

Subsets of curiosity-drive theory is one of these curiosity-drives, and it is necessary to make sense of their environment. [7] Causes can range from basic needs to be satisfied (eg hunger, thirst) [7]Each of these subset theories state, whether or not the need is primary or secondary curiosity is created from a sensation of uncertainty or perceived unpleasantness. Curiosity then acts as a means to dispel this uncertainty. By exhibiting curious and exploratory behavior, one is able to gain knowledge of the unfamiliar and thus reduce the state of uncertainty or unpleasantness. This theory, however, does not address the idea that curiosity can be encountered in the absence of new or unfamiliar situations. [8]This type of exploratory behavior is common in many species. Take the example of a human toddler who, if bored in his current situation, of the arousing stimuli, will be interesting. The observation of curiosity in the absence of novel stimuli pinpoints on the shortcomings in the curiosity-drive model.

Optimal-arousal theory

Optimal-arousal theory developed out of the need to explain the desire for some to seek out opportunities to engage in exploratory behaviors without the presence of uncertain or ambiguous situations. Optimal-arousal theory attempts to explain this aspect of curiosity by suggesting that it is able to maintain a plausible sense of arousal through these exploratory behaviors.

The concept of optimal-arousal of curiosity suggests that the desire is to maintain an optimal level of arousal. If the stimulus is too intensely arousing, a “back-away” type behavior is engaged In contrast, if the environment is boring and lacks excitement, exploratory behavior will be used. In essence, there is an intrinsic motivation to search for a perfect balance of arousal states. [8]This idea attempts to address the observed behaviors of curiosity even in the absence of uncertain or unfamiliar situations. While optimal-arousal theory addresses some discrepancy within curiosity-drive theory, there seems to be a distinctive counter-intuitiveness about their designs. For example, if there is an ideal state of curiosity that should be maintained, then gaining new knowledge would be counter-productive. [7] [8]

Integration of the reward pathway into the theory

Taking into account the Shortcomings of Both curiosity-drive and best-arousal theories, Attempts-have-been made to integrate neurobiological aspects of reward , wanting, and pleasure into a more comprehensive theory for curiosity. Research suggests that mesolimbic pathways of the brain are directly responsible for dopamine activation. The use of these pathways and dopamine activation [7] [9] [10] This aspect of neurobiology can accompany curiosity-theory in motivating exploratory behavior.

Role of neurological aspects and structures

Although the phenomenon of curiosity is widely considered, its root causes are relatively unknown beyond theory. HOWEVER, recent studies-have Provided Some insight into the neurological Mechanisms That make up what is Known as the reward pathway [11] qui May impact characteristics associated with curiosity, Such As learning , memory , and motivation . Due to the complex nature of curiosity, research that focuses on specific neural processes. The following are characteristics of curiosity and their links to neural aspects.

Motivation and reward

The drive to learn new information or perform some action is often initiated by the anticipation of reward . In this way, the concepts of motivation and reward are naturally linked to the notion of curiosity. [9]

This idea of reward is a positive reinforcement of an action that encourages a particular behavior by the emotional sensations of relief, pleasure, and satisfaction that correlates with happiness . Many areas in the brain are used to be rewarding and rewarding. In this pathway many neurotransmitters play a role in the activation of the sensation-including dopamine reward , serotoninand opioid chemicals. [9]

Dopamine is linked to the process of curiosity, as it is responsible for assigning and retaining rewarding values ​​of information gained. Published by the Canadian Institute of Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc. (PDFa) [9]

Nucleus accumbens

The nucleus accumbens is a formation of neurons and is important in reward pathway activation. As previously mentioned, the reward pathway is an integral part of the induction of curiosity. The release of dopamine in investigating response to novel or exciting stimuli. The fast dopamine release observed during childhood and adolescence is important in development, as curiosity and exploratory behavior are the greatest facilitators of learning during early years.

In addition, the sensation pleasure of “liking” can occur when opioids are released by nucleus accumbens . This helps someone evaluate the situation or the environment. These processes of both wanting and liking play a role in activating the reward system of the brain, and perhaps in the stimulation of curiosity or information-seeking tendencies as well. [8] [10] [12]

Caudate nucleus

The caudate nucleus is a region of the brain that is highly responsive to dopamine. The caudate nucleus is another component of the reward pathway. Research has suggested the role of the caudate nucleus anticipates the possibility of and anticipation of rewarding exploratory behavior and gathered information, thus contributing to factors of curiosity. [12] [13]

Anterior cortices

Regions of the anterior cortices correspond to both and arousal, and as such seem to reinforce certain exploratory models of curiosity. [14]


Cortisol is a chemical known for its role in stress regulation. However, cortisol may also be associated with curious or exploratory behavior. Findings in recent studies suggesting the role of cortisol with curiosity support the idea of ​​optimal arousal theory. It is suggested the release of a small amount of cortisol cause stress encourages curious behavior, while too much stress can initiate a “back away” response. [13] [15]


Warningis important to the understanding of curiosity because it directly correlates with one’s ability to selectively focus and concentrate on particular stimuli in the surrounding environment. As there are many cognitive and sensory resources to understand and test various stimuli, attention can be drawn to the most important aspects of these stimuli. Individuals tend to focus their energies on stimuli that are particularly stimulating or engaging. Indicating that the most attention to stimulus garners, the more frequent one’s energy and focus will be directed towards that stimulus. This idea suggests an individual will focus their attention on new or unfamiliar stimuli in an effort to better understand or make sense of the familiar or repetitive stimuli.[16]


The striatum is a part of the brain which coordinates motivation with body movement. It would seem natural that the stratum plays a role in attention and reward anticipation, both of which are important in the provocation of curiosity. [14]


The precursor is a region of the brain that is involved in attention, episodic memory, and visuospatial processing. There has been a correlation of the amount of gray matter in the precuneus and levels of curious and exploratory behaviors; suggesting that the precuneus has an influence on levels of curiosity. [17]

Memory and learning

Memory plays an important role in the understanding of curiosity. If curiosity is the desire to seek out and understand unfamiliar or novel stimuli, one’s memory is important in determining whether the stimuli is indeed unfamiliar.

Memory is the process by which the brain can store and access information. In order to determine if the stimulus is novel, an individual must remember if the stimulus has been encountered before. Thus, memory plays an integral role in dictating the level of novelty or unfamiliarity, and the level of need for curiosity.

It can also be suggested that curiosity can affect memory. As already mentioned, stimuli that are novel tend to capture more of our attention. Additionally, novel stimuli usually have a reward value associated with them, the future reward of what learning that new information may bring. With stronger organizations and more careful Devoted to a stimulus, it is probable que la FORMED from memory That stimulus will be lasting and along Easier To recall, both, of qui Facilitate better learning .

Hippocampus and the parahippocampal gyrus

The hippocampus is important in memory formation and recall and therefore instrumental in determining the novelty of various stimuli. [18] Research suggests the hippocampus is involved in the underlying motivation to explore for the purpose of learning. [2] [19] [20]

The parahippocampal gyrus (PHG), the area of ​​gray matter surrounding the hippocampus, has been implicated in the process of curiosity. This finding suggests that PHG may be involved in the amplification of curiosity more than the primary induction of curiosity. [12]


The amygdala , often is associated with emotional processing, especially for the emotion of fear, as well as memory. It is suggested that amygdala is important in the treatment of reactions to novel or unexpected stimuli and the induction of exploratory behavior. This implies a connection between curiosity and the amygdala. However, more research is needed on direct correlation. [21]

Early development

Piaget is considered to be the most influential child researcher. He argued that they are constantly trying to make sense of their reality and that they are contributing to their intellectual development. According to Piaget, children develop hypotheses, conductive experiments and then reassess their hypotheses depending on what they observe. Piaget was the first to closely document children’s actions and interpretations of them, calculated effort to test and learn about their environment. [22]

There is no universally accepted definition for curiosity in children. Most research on curiosity has been focused on adults and children. Curiosity is mainly thought of as attributable to a mature person and is characterized by a child with a fledgling feature of their outlook on the world. [23]

Exploratory behavior is commonly observed in children and is associated with their curiosity development. Several studies look at children’s curiosity by simply observing their interaction with novel and familiar toys. [23]

There is evidence of a relationship between the children and their curiosity. One study found that object curiosity in 11-year-olds was negatively related to psychological maladjusted so children who exhibit more anxiety in the classroom. It has been suggested that certain aspects of classroom learning are dependent on curiosity that can be affected by students’ anxiety. [23]

Other measures of childhood curiosity have been used as a basis for differentiating behaviors. Some studies have been reviewed by the child’s curiosity measure; others have relied on novelty preference as their basis. [23]

Researchers also looked at the relationship between a child’s reaction to surprise and curiosity. It has been suggested that children are further motivated to learn when dealing with uncertainty. It is argued that their reactions to their expectations would make their curiosity more than the introduction of a novel or complex object would. [23]


There is a widespread held belief that children’s curiosity becomes discourse throughout the process of formal education: “Children are born scientists.” From the first ball they send flying to the watch they carry a crumb, children use science tools-enthusiasm, hypotheses, tests , goals-to-uncover the world’s mysteries. [23]

Sir Ken Robinson discusses a similar phenomenon in his TED Talk titled “Do schools kill creativity?” When curiosity in young people leads to knowledge-gathering is a positive. [24] However, it is also a question of dangerous behavior, for instance when one is concerned about opposite-sex siblings sharing a room , etc. [25]

Impact from disease

Left: normal brain. Right: AD afflicted brain. Severe degeneration of areas implicated in curiosity

Different neurodegenerative diseases or other psychological disorders can affect various characteristics of curiosity, for instance Alzheimer ‘s disease ‘ s effects on memory or depression on motivation and reward. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that directly affects the ability and capacity for memory. Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by a lack of interest in one’s environment and feelings of sadness or hopelessness. A lack of curiosity for novel stimuli could also be used as a predictor for these and other illnesses. [16]

Morbid curiosity

morbid curiosity exemplifies an aspect of curiosity that can be seen as focused on objects of death , violence , or any other event that may cause harm physically or emotionally.

The idea of ​​morbid curiosity is typically described as having an addictive quality. This addictive appearance of the need to Understand gold make sense of topics That Surround harm, violence or death Can Be Attributed To the idea of one’s need to recounts unusual and Often difficulty Circumstances to a primary emotion or experience of Their Own, Described as meta- emotions . [26]

Understanding these difficulties dates back to Aristotle in his Poetics , stating “enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things which is painful to us”. quote needed ]

“Morbid curiosity” redirects here. For the magazine, see Morbid Curiosity (magazine) .

State and trait curiosity

There are two distinct classifications of types of curiosity: state and trait curiosity . Both of these types determine whether curiosity comes from within or outside a person. Curios State State State State State State State State for for for for for for for for for for for most most most most most most most most stores stores stores curiosity relates to high levels of reward. Curiosity focuses on people who are interested in learning. Generally, it could be trying out a new sport or food, or traveling to a new unknown place. One can look at curiosity the urge that draws us who? ]out of our comfort zones and fears the agent keeps them within its boundaries. [27]

See also

  • Broaden-and-build
  • Interest (emotion)
  • Inquiry
  • Play (activity)


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