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Intellectual Curiosity – How To Make It Better, Its More Than Just Pointless Browsing

Many of us endlessly browse the internet watching cute cat videos or funny YouTube  “fail” videos. We do this because it is part of our human nature to be curious. However, this type of curiosity is not what “put a man on the moon” or painted the Mona Lisa. This is because the curiosity that is the source of creativity and innovation is intellectual curiosity. With this in mind, I’ll explain in this article the three types of curiosity, why intellectual curiosity is important, and how to improve your intellectual curiosity.

Types Of Curiosity.

 Ian Leslie, the acclaimed author, in his book Curious, breaks down curiosity into three types to include epistemic curiosity or otherwise known as intellectual curiosity. To describe these curiosity types, see below.

  • Diversive Curiosity. Everyone is born with this type of curiosity. Specifically, this is where you are curious about anything new. Moreover, you have an innate desire to explore new places, people, and things. For example, many of us who spend hours a day scrolling through social media are using diversive curiosity.
  • Epistemic Curiosity. This is the curiosity where we are driven to answer the why of any question we pose. In particular, intellectual curiosity is conscious, hard work to learn something and increases our understanding of a given subject. Lastly, this is the curiosity that drives, that invents new stuff and creates innovative solutions to problems.
  • Empathic Curiosity. This is a curiosity that focuses on people and relationships. Specifically with this type of curiosity, you want to understand the real person, their feelings, and their thoughts.
A Curious Mind - Pointless Or The Source Of Creativity? - intellectual curiosity
A Curious Mind – Pointless Or The Source Of Creativity?

These three types of curiosity are a great way to breakdown what curiosity is rather than just relying on its base definition “a desire to know”.  Further, these types of curiosity very well describe the human condition. First, we will mindlessly work on puzzles or scroll through cat videos when we exercise our diversive curiosity. Second, humans are creative and innovative when we put our mind to it in the form of intellectual curiosity. Lastly, we are social animals where we build and discover new relationships with our empathic curiosity.

For more on types of curiosity, see Axborn’s The Three Types Of Curiosity and PerceptualEdge’s Curiosity Trumps All: A Review of “Curious” by Ian Leslie.

Why Is Intellectual Curiosity Important?

Between the ages of two and five, kids will ask about 40,000 questions a day. During these ages kids are learning a lot of new things and are naturally intellectually curious. Moreover, the questions they ask are about learning something new. In contrast, they are not questions such as “how long to snack time?” or “can I go to the bathroom?”. Also, intellectual curiosity is not just critical for childhood development, but also for all of us. Namely, it is important for all of us to be life-long learners and develop our intellectual curiosity. Below are reasons that intellectual curiosity is important.

  • Your Knowledge Increases. Intellectual curiosity drives you to learn new things and accumulate knowlege.
  • You Become More Creative and Innovative. Intellectual curiosity enables you to create new ideas and for you to express yourself. Moreover, you become more solution oriented by being capable of developing innovative solutions to problems
  • You Become More Aware Of Your Environment. When you exercise your intellectual curiosity, you notice new things. Moreover, you have greater situational awareness to address issues and take advantage of opportunities.
  • You Become More Interesting In Your Personal and Professional Relationships. People are more attracted to you because you are interesting.
  • Mentally You Become More Active. Intellectual curiosity benefits you in all your normal activities because your mind is active, not passive. Your life is more interesting and exciting.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie

For more details on the importance of intellectual curiosity, see Indeed’s What Is Intellectual Curiosity, and Pebblego’s Supporting Children’s Intellectual Curiosity.

5 Ways To Improve Your Intellectual Curiosity.

Below are some ideas to improve your intellectual curiosity. With intellectual curiosity, you have to be an active participant. Also it is a lot of hard work, but makes life interesting and fun.

1. Ask Questions.

Look at situations with fresh eyes. For example if you are working on a solution, ask questions like “where does this work?; “why doesn’t it work”; “Who will this work for?”; “What if …?”; and so on. 

2. Learn More About What Interests You.

Read, listen, and watch content that piques your interest and where you learn something. For example, this can be books, podcasts, or videos. Also, documentaries are a good way to dig deeper into topics. Additionally, sign up for academic programs either online or in your local area that inspires and inform you.

3. View Others As Resources.

If you are s student, get an internship in your field of interest. Also, get to know your teachers and engage with them. Additionally, seek out mentors to help you learn. Lastly, seek out and converse with people who have experience in the topics that you are exploring.

4. Actively Curate Your Thinking and Communications Skills.

Write an opinion and post it on social media or your local newspaper. Additionally, spend time reflecting on what you are doing and taking notes. For example, this can be in the form of mind-maps or writing it down to make connections and learn. Also, always challenge or confirm your assumptions and continue to build your knowledge base.

5. Measure and Self-Evaluate Your Intellectual Curiosity.

Anytime you are attempting to improve something, it is good to measure your progress. There is a test for measuring intellectual curiosity for children. It not only measure intellectual interest (I-type), but also undesirable conditions of informational deprivations (D-type). For more information, click here.

For more ideas on how to improve your intellectual curiousity, see Newayscenter’s Rediscover Your Intellectual Curiosity and EmergingConsulting’s What Will Get Me Into College? Why Intellectual Curiosity Matters

For more information from Unvarnished Facts, see articles on creativity and innovation 

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