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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For The Jets' song, see Curiosity (song).
For the upcoming NASA rover known as Curiosity, see Mars Science Laboratory
A curious kitten

Curiosity is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal 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 curiosity is an innate capability of many living beings, it should not be categorized as an instinct because it is not a fixed action pattern; rather it is an innate basic emotion 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 beings at all ages from infancy to old age, and is easy to observe in many other animal species. These include apes, cats, fish, reptiles, and insects; 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 sources.

Strong curiosity is the main motivation of many scientists. In fact, in its development as wonder or admiration, it is generally curiosity that makes a human being want to become an expert in a field of knowledge. 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), combined with the ability to think in an abstract way, lead to mimesis, fantasy and imagination - eventually leading to an especially human way of thinking ("human reason"), which is abstract and self-aware, or conscious. Some people have the feeling of curiosity to know what is after death.


The degree to which a person says that they have curiosity about trivia questions links to activity in both in the Broca's area in their left inferior frontal gyrus, and the putamen in their basal ganglia. This suggests people that are curious activate both parts of their brain that comprehend and anticipates information, and those in which such information acts as a secondary reinforcer or reward. Curiosity also increased activity in memory areas such as the hippocampus 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.[1] Dopamine receptors in part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus contribute to the generation of curiosity in mice.[2] These receptors are also important for plasticity and learning and therefore are proposed to represent a molecular link between intelligence and curiosity.[3]

Morbid curiosity

A morbid curiosity is an example of addictive curiosity the object of which is death, violence, or any other event that may hurt you physically or emotionally (see also: snuff film), the addictive emotion being explainable by meta-emotions exercising pressure on the spontaneous curiosity itself. According to Aristotle, 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.)


  1. ^ Kang MJ, Hsu M, Krajbich IM, Loewenstein G, McClure SM, Wang JT, Camerer CF. (2009).The wick in the candle of learning: epistemic curiosity activates reward circuitry and enhances memory.Psychol Sci. 20(8):963-73. PMID 19619181
  2. ^ Saab BJ, Georgiou J, Nath A, Lee FJ, Wang M, Michalon A, Liu F, Mansuy IM, Roder JC. (2009). "NCS-1 in the dentate gyrus promotes exploration, synaptic plasticity, and rapid acquisition of spatial memory.". Neuron 63 (5): 643-56. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.08.014. PMID 19755107. 
  3. ^

See also


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes regarding curiousity:


  • 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.
  • Curiosity killed the cat [1]


  • "Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures." ~ Lovelle Drachman
  • “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
  • "Curiosity is not a sin.... But we should exercise caution with our curiosity... yes, indeed." Albus Dumbledore
  • "Curiousity is one of Satan's favorite paths, to lead man to sin." ~ Tinel
  • "Curiousity killed the cat, yet the cat had nine lives.. thus.. curiousity killed it eight times more." ~ John Albert Halili
  • "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." ~ Eugene O'Neill
  • "Curiosity killed the cat, but I'm much bigger than a cat." ~ Kedd Burmeister
  • "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." ~ Dorothy Parker

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up curiosity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Curiosity may refer to:

  • Curiosity by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Curiosity by Charles Sprague

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