The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation

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Research on curiosity has undergone 2 waves of intense activity. The 1st, in the 1960s, focused mainly on curiosity's psychological underpinnings. The 2nd, in the 1970s and 1980s, was characterized by attempts to measure curiosity and assess its dimensionality. This article reviews these contributions with a concentration on the 1st wave. It is argued that theoretical accounts of curiosity proposed during the 1st period fell short in 2 areas: They did not offer an adequate explanation for why people voluntarily seek out curiosity, and they failed to delineate situational determinants of curiosity. Furthermore, these accounts did not draw attention to, and thus did not explain, certain salient characteristics of curiosity: its intensity, transience, association with impulsivity, and tendency to disappoint when satisfied. A new account of curiosity is offered that attempts to address these shortcomings. The new account interprets curiosity as a form of cognitively induced deprivation that arises from the perception of a gap in knowledge or understanding.




Loewenstein, G. (1994). The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation. Psychological Bulletin, 116(1), 75–98.

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