Hunters, busybodies and the knowledge network building associated with deprivation curiosity

Nat Hum Behav. 2021 Mar;5(3):327-336. doi: 10.1038/s41562-020-00985-7. Epub 2020 Nov 30.


The open-ended and internally driven nature of curiosity makes characterizing the information seeking that accompanies it a daunting endeavour. We use a historico-philosophical taxonomy of information seeking coupled with a knowledge network building framework to capture styles of information-seeking in 149 participants as they explore Wikipedia for over 5 hours spanning 21 days. We create knowledge networks in which nodes represent distinct concepts and edges represent the similarity between concepts. We quantify the tightness of knowledge networks using graph theoretical indices and use a generative model of network growth to explore mechanisms underlying information-seeking. Deprivation curiosity (the tendency to seek information that eliminates knowledge gaps) is associated with the creation of relatively tight networks and a relatively greater tendency to return to previously visited concepts. With this framework in hand, future research can readily quantify the information seeking associated with curiosity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Knowledge*
  • Models, Theoretical*