Curiosity
Overview
 
Curiosity is an emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 related to natural inquisitive behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 such as exploration
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

, investigation, and learning
Learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

, evident by observation in human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 and many animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 species. The term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity. As this emotion represents a drive to know new things, curiosity is the fuel of science and all other disciplines of human study.
Although many living beings have an innate capability of curiosity, it should not be categorized as an instinct
Instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

 because it is not a fixed action pattern
Fixed action pattern
In ethology, a fixed action pattern , or modal action pattern, is an instinctive behavioral sequence that is indivisible and runs to completion...

; rather it is an innate basic emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 because while curiosity can be expressed in many ways, the expression of an instinct is typically more fixed and less flexible.
Quotations

"Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures." ~ Lovelle Drachman

"Curiosity is only vanity. Most frequently we wish not to know, but to talk. We would not take a sea voyage for the sole pleasure of seeing without hope of ever telling." ~ Blaise Pascal(Pensées)

“To be curious about that which is not one's concern while still in ignorance of oneself is ridiculous.” ~ Plato

"Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect." ~ Steven Wright

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." ~ Albert Einstein

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” ~ Albert Einstein

"Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not." ~ Isaiah Berlin

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality." ~ Albert Einstein

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney

“When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” ~ Walt Disney

Encyclopedia
Curiosity is an emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 related to natural inquisitive behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 such as exploration
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

, investigation, and learning
Learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

, evident by observation in human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 and many animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 species. The term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity. As this emotion represents a drive to know new things, curiosity is the fuel of science and all other disciplines of human study.

Causes

Although many living beings have an innate capability of curiosity, it should not be categorized as an instinct
Instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

 because it is not a fixed action pattern
Fixed action pattern
In ethology, a fixed action pattern , or modal action pattern, is an instinctive behavioral sequence that is indivisible and runs to completion...

; rather it is an innate basic emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

 because while curiosity can be expressed in many ways, the expression of an instinct is typically more fixed and less flexible. Curiosity is common to human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 beings at all ages from infancy to old age
Old age
Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle...

, and is easy to observe in many other animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 species. These include ape
Ape
Apes are Old World anthropoid mammals, more specifically a clade of tailless catarrhine primates, belonging to the biological superfamily Hominoidea. The apes are native to Africa and South-east Asia, although in relatively recent times humans have spread all over the world...

s, cat
Cat
The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...

s, fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, and insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s; as well as many others. Many aspects of exploration are shared among all beings, as all known terrestrial beings share similar aspects: limited size and a need to seek out food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 sources.

In fact, in its development as wonder
Wonder (emotion)
Wonder is an emotion comparable to surprise that people feel when perceiving something very rare or unexpected . It has historically been seen as an important aspect of human nature, specifically being linked with curiosity and the drive behind intellectual exploration...

 or admiration, it is generally curiosity that makes a human being want to become an expert in a field of knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

. Though humans are sometimes considered particularly curious, they sometimes seem to miss the obvious when compared to other animals. What seems to happen is that human curiosity about curiosity itself (i.e. meta-curiosity or meta-interest
Interest (emotion)
Interest is a feeling or emotion that causes attention to focus on an object or an event or a process. In contemporary psychology of interest, the term is used as a general concept that may encompass other more specific psychological terms, such as curiosity and to a much lesser degree surprise.The...

), combined with the ability to think in an abstract way, lead to mimesis
Mimesis
Mimesis , from μιμεῖσθαι , "to imitate," from μῖμος , "imitator, actor") is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the...

, fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 and imagination
Imagination
Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses...

 - eventually leading to an especially human way of thinking ("human reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

"), which is abstract and self-aware, or conscious. Readers of this page who are curious about meta-curiosity are experiencing meta-meta-curiosity.

Brain

The degree to which a person says that they have curiosity about trivia question
Trivia
The trivia are the three lower Artes Liberales, i.e. grammar, rhetoric and logic. These were the topics of basic education, foundational to the quadrivia of higher education, and hence the material of basic education, of interest only to undergraduates...

s links to activity in both in the Broca's area
Broca's area
Broca's area is a region of the hominid brain with functions linked to speech production.The production of language has been linked to the Broca’s area since Pierre Paul Broca reported impairments in two patients. They had lost the ability to speak after injury to the posterior inferior frontal...

 in their left inferior frontal gyrus
Inferior frontal gyrus
The inferior frontal gyrus is a gyrus of the frontal lobe . It is labelled gyrus frontalis inferior, its Latin name...

, and the putamen
Putamen
The putamen is a round structure located at the base of the forebrain . The putamen and caudate nucleus together form the dorsal striatum. It is also one of the structures that comprises the basal ganglia. Through various pathways, the putamen is connected to the substantia nigra and globus pallidus...

 in their basal ganglia
Basal ganglia
The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei of varied origin in the brains of vertebrates that act as a cohesive functional unit. They are situated at the base of the forebrain and are strongly connected with the cerebral cortex, thalamus and other brain areas...

. This suggests people that are curious activate both parts of their brain that comprehend and anticipate information, and those in which such information acts as a secondary reinforcer
Reinforcement
Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior in the form of a "response" by the delivery or emergence of a stimulus Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for the process of...

 or reward
Reward system
In neuroscience, the reward system is a collection of brain structures which attempts to regulate and control behavior by inducing pleasurable effects...

. Curiosity also increased activity in memory areas such as the hippocampus
Hippocampus
The hippocampus is a major component of the brains of humans and other vertebrates. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in...

 when subjects guessed trivia questions incorrectly and this suggests that it might act to enhance a person's long term memory for surprising new information. Such activation linked to curiosity predicted better recall of surprising answers one or two weeks later. Dopamine receptors in part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus
Dentate gyrus
The dentate gyrus is part of the hippocampal formation. It is thought to contribute to new memories as well as other functional roles. It is notable as being one of a select few brain structures currently known to have high rates of neurogenesis in adult rats, .The dentate gyrus cells receive...

 contribute to the generation of curiosity in mice. These receptors are also important for plasticity
Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is a non-specific neuroscience term referring to the ability of the brain and nervous system in all species to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment. Plasticity occurs on a variety of levels, ranging from cellular changes involved in...

 and learning and therefore are proposed to represent a molecular link between intelligence and curiosity.

Morbid curiosity

A morbid curiosity is an example of addictive curiosity the object of which is death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

, violence
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

, or any other event that may hurt you physically or emotionally (see also: snuff film
Snuff film
A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual death or murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation. For-profit snuff films are generally regarded as an urban legend, whose...

), the addictive emotion being explainable by meta-emotions exercising pressure on the spontaneous curiosity itself. According to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, in his Poetics we even "enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us." (This aspect of our nature is often referred to as the 'Car Crash Syndrome' or 'Trainwreck Syndrome', derived from the notorious supposed inability of passersby to ignore such accidents
Rubbernecking
Rubbernecking describes the act of gawking at something of interest. It is often used to refer to drivers trying to view the carnage resulting from a traffic accident. The term refers to the craning of a person's neck in order to get a better view....

.)

See also

  • Emotion
    Emotion
    Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

  • Interest (emotion)
    Interest (emotion)
    Interest is a feeling or emotion that causes attention to focus on an object or an event or a process. In contemporary psychology of interest, the term is used as a general concept that may encompass other more specific psychological terms, such as curiosity and to a much lesser degree surprise.The...

  • Play (activity)
    Play (activity)
    Play is a term employed in ethology and psychology to describe to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment...

  • Broaden-and-build
    Broaden-and-build
    The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions suggests that positive emotions broaden one's awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, this broadened behavioral repertoire builds skills and resources...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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