Thinking about Curiosity

Today, I want to mention about the concept of curiosity in my perspective. I remember in 1999 when I was a 4th grader, waiting for my mom to come home from work, I was experimenting in our kitchen, my materials were vegetables, fruits, grains, sugar, salt, water and my equipments were pans, bowls, oven, spoons, whisks.

Again in 2000s I was reading AnaBrittanica encyclopedia (even some volumes were missing because my family was not so good at keeping all the coupons in one place), I still remember myself appreciating the picture of David statue of Michelangelo. I was in letter D section. Yaay!

I can define my previous self as curious, hungry for answers, not only answers but information. So what is being curious? Oxford English Dictionary defines curious as being eager to know or learn something*. Which something? Do I need to specify what I am eager to know or learn before I search for it? If it is the case, I may be identified as curious when I conducted experiments in the kitchen, because I wanted to learn what would happen afterwards. On the other side, I have absolutely no idea when I went through encyclopedia pages (only the first letter the term begins with), so I should not have been categorized as curious.

Then I came across with Dewey’s three categories of curiosity: physical, social and intellectual.* Physical curiosity is just like the instincts of animals, humans naturally have the urge to explore the world, without any particular goal. Social curiosity is the attempts to acquire more knowledge even it is not rationally connected, like asking why questions all the time. The last one, intellectual curiosity is realizing that there are more information or facts that are to be found, it requires accumulation of knowledge. So we can say that there is a natural hierarchy. According to Berlyne (1954), curiosity might be multidimensional*. These dimensions can be a topic of another post, but I feel a step closer to understand the different stages of curiousness. For me, the physical curiosity is mostly the more joyful one and as it shifts from physical to intellectual eventually, one can feel frustrated and not want to pursue it anymore, that may be why we question ourselves about losing the curious spirit. Let’s not get upset this easily, keep calm and keep asking questions.



*curious, adj. (2017). Oxford English Dictionary Online. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved online 17 September 2017.

*Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath

*Berlyne, D. E. (1954). A theory of human curiosity. British Journal of Psychology, 45, 180–191.


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