Disentangling Curiosity: Dimensionality, Definitions, and Distinctions from Interest in Educational Contexts
Curiosity has received increasing attention in the educational literature, yet empirical investigations have been limited by inconsistent conceptualizations and the use of curiosity synonymously with other constructs, particularly interest. The purpose of this review is to critically examine the dimensionality, definitions, and measures of curiosity within educational settings, and address the boundaries between curiosity and interest. A systematic review of 39 articles from 2003 to 2013 revealed a reliance on self-report measures, a focus on curiosity as a personality trait, and definitions characterized by four themes, the most common of which were curiosity as a need for knowledge or information, and curiosity as a motivator of exploratory behavior. The overlap and relations between curiosity and interest are discussed, and it is proposed that an examination of (a) the role of knowledge, (b) goals and outcomes, and (c) stability and malleability provide a basis for differentiating curiosity and interest according to their essential characteristics.
KeywordsCuriosity Interest Motivation
References marked with an asterisk (*) are included in the systematic portion of this review
- Ainley, M., & Hidi, S. (2014). Interest and enjoyment. In R. Pekrun & L. Linnenbrink-Garcia (Eds.), International handbook of emotions in education (pp. 205–227). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Alexander, P. A. (1997). Mapping the multidimensional nature of domain learning: The interplay of cognitive, motivational, and strategic forces. In M. L. Maehr & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 10, pp. 213–250). Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
- Arnone, M. P., Reynolds, R., & Marshall, T. (2009). The effect of early adolescents’ psychological needs satisfaction upon their perceived competence in information skills and intrinsic motivation for research. School Libraries Worldwide, 15, 115–134.Google Scholar
- Berlyne, D. E. (1949). “Interest” as a psychological concept. British Journal of Psychology, 45, 184–195.Google Scholar
- Berlyne, D. E. (1974). Studies in the new experimental aesthetics: Steps toward and objective psychology of aesthetic appreciation. Washington: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
- Bleidorn, W., Kandler, C., Reimann, R., Angleitner, A., & Spinath, F. M. (2009). Patterns and sources of adult personality development: growth curve analyses of the NEO PI-R scales in a longitudinal twin study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 142–155. doi:10.1037/a0015434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bloom, B. S., Englehart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objects, handbook I: cognitive domain. Reading: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
- *Byman, R. (2005). Curiosity and sensation seeking: a conceptual and empirical investigation. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1365–1379. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2004.09.004.
- *Čavojová, V., & Sollár, T. (2007). The curiosity and exploration inventory: structure and reliability. Studia Psychologica, 49(1), 89–100.Google Scholar
- Day, H. I. (1971). The measurement of specific curiosity. In H. I. Day, D. E. Berlyne, & D. E. Hunt (Eds.), Intrinsic motivation: a new direction in education. New York: Hold, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
- Fink, A. (2005). Conducting research literature reviews: from the Internet to paper. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Garnier-Dykstra, L. M., Caldeira, K. M., Vincent, K. B., O’Grady, K. E., & Arria, A. (2012). Nonmedical use of prescription stimulants during college: four-year trends in exposure opportunity, use, motives, and sources. Journal of American College Health, 60, 226–234. doi:10.1080/07448481.2011.589876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Giambra, L. M., Camp, C. J., & Grodinsky, A. (1992). Curiosity and stimulation seeking across the adult life span: Cross-sectional and 6- to 8-year longitudinal findings. Psychology and Aging, 7(1), 150–157. do:10.1037/0882-79188.8.131.52.
- Ginsburg, H., & Opper, S. (1988). Piaget’s theory of intellectual development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Gold, S. R., & Henderson, B. B. (1990). Daydreaming and curiosity: stability and change in gifted children and adolescents. Adolescence, 25, 701–708.Google Scholar
- Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
- Iran-Nejad, A., & Cecil, C. (1992). Interest and learning: a biofunctional perspective. In K. A. Renninger, S. Hidi, & A. Krapp (Eds.), The role of interest in learning and development (pp. 297–332). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- James, W. (1890/1950). The principles of psychology (vol. 2). New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
- Kashdan, T. B. (2004). Curiosity. In C. Peterson & M. E. P. Seligman (Eds.), Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification (pp. 125–141). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kashdan, T. B., Gallagher, M. W., Silvia, P. J., Winterstein, B. P., Breen, W. E., Terhar, D., & Steger, M. F. (2009). The curiosity and exploration inventory—II: development, factor structure, and psychometrics. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 987–998. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2009.04.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- *Kashdan, T. B., & Yuen, M. (2007). Whether highly curious students thrive academically depends on perceptions about the school learning environment: a study of Hong Kong students. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 260–270. doi: 10.1007/s11031-007-9074-9.
- Levitt, H. M., Williams, D. C., Uruk, A. C., Kannan, D., Obana, M., Smith, B. L., & Biss, W. J. (2009). The experience of depth curiosity: the pursuit of congruence despite the danger of engulfment. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 22, 187–212. doi:10.1080/10720530902915093.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- *Lin, D., Wong, K. K., & McBridge-Chang, C. (2012). Reading motivation and reading comprehension in Chinese and English among bilingual students. Reading and Writing, 25, 717–737. doi: 10.1007/s11145-011-9297-8.
- *Litman, J. A., Crowson, H. M., & Kolinski, K. (2010). Validity of the interest- and deprivation type epistemic curiosity distinction in non-students. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 531–536. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.021
- *Litman, J. A., Hutchins, T. L., Russon, R. K. (2005). Epistemic curiosity, feeling-of-knowing and exploratory behaviour. Cognition and Emotion, 19(4), 559–582. doi: 10.1080/0269993044100042.
- Maw, W. H., & Maw, E. W. (1961). Information recognition by children of high and low curiosity. Educational Research Bulletin, 40(80), 197–201.Google Scholar
- McCrea, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1997). Conceptions and correlates to openness to experience. In R. Hogan, J. A. Johnson, & S. R. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality psychology (pp. 826–848). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
- Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). (2012). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K. (1998). Toward a multifaceted model of persuasion: exploring textual and learning interactions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Maryland, College Park, MD.Google Scholar
- Neblett, E. W., Jr., Philip, C. L., Cogburn, C. D., & Sellers, R. M. (2006). African-American adolescents’ discrimination experiences and academic achievement: racial socialization as a cultural compensatory and protective factor. Journal of Black Psychology, 32, 199–218. doi:10.1177/0095798406287072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Assessment and applications. In C. Peterson & M. E. P. Seligman (Eds.), Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification (pp. 625–644). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Reio, T. G., Jr., & Wiswell, A. (2000). Field investigation of the relationship among adult curiosity, workplace learning, and job performance. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 11, 5–30. doi:10.1002/1532-1096(200021)11:1<5::AID-HRDQ2>3.0.CO;2-A.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schiefele, U. (2009). Situational and individual interest. In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 197–222). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Schiefele, U., Krapp, A., Wild, K.-P., & Winteler, A. (1993). Der “Fragebogen zum Studieninteresse” (FSI) [The Study Interest Questionnaire]. Diagnustica, 39, 335–351.Google Scholar
- Spielberger, C. D. (1979). Preliminary manual for the State–Trait Personality Inventory. Unpublished manual, University of South Florida.Google Scholar
- Spielberger, C. D., & Starr, L. M. (1994). Curiosity and exploratory behavior. In H. F. O’Neil Jr. & M. Drillings (Eds.), Motivation theory and research (pp. 221–243). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- White, H. D. (2009). Scientific communication and literature retrieval. In H. M. Cooper, L. V. Hedges, and J. C. Valentine (Eds.), The Handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis (2nd ed., pp. 51–72). New York: Russell Sage Publications. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books.
- Zuckerman, M. (1979). Sensation seeking: beyond the optimal level of arousal. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar