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Curiosity and Exploration

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Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning


Cognitive curiosity; Diversive exploration; Intrinsic motivation; Sensory curiosity; Specific exploration


Curiosity is a state of increased arousal response promoted by a stimulus high in uncertainty and lacking in information. When compared to existing knowledge, the novel, uncertain, conflicting, or complex properties of external stimuli create a conceptual conflict that arouses the internal state of arousal called curiosity (Berlyne 1966). Once curiosity has been aroused, the organism engages in a process of exploration to reduce the state of arousal. There are two basic types of curiosity: cognitive and sensory. Cognitive curiosity is the desire for new information, while sensory curiosity is the desire for new sensations and thrills. Exploration entails seeking new information to solve a problem through observation, consultation, and directed thinking (specific exploration) and new sensory experiences and thrills to extend one’s knowledge into the unknown...

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Correspondence to Thomas G. Reio Jr. .

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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Reio, T.G. (2012). Curiosity and Exploration. In: Seel, N.M. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Springer, Boston, MA.

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