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Curiosity About People: The Development of a Social Curiosity Measure in Adults

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Curiosity refers to the desire for acquiring new information. The aim of this study was to develop a questionnaire to assess social curiosity, that is, interest in how other people think, feel, and behave. The questionnaire was administered to 312 participants. Factor analyses of the 10-item Social Curiosity Scale (SCS) yielded 2 factors: General Social Curiosity and Covert Social Curiosity. Evidence of convergent validity was provided by moderately high correlations of the SCS with other measures of curiosity and self-perceived curiosity, whereas discriminant validity was demonstrated by low correlations of the SCS with other personality traits, such as neuroticism and agreeableness. Of interest, social interaction anxiety was observed to facilitate covert social curiosity while inhibiting general social curiosity.
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RENNERSOCIAL CURIOSITY IN ADULTS
Curiosity About People: The Development of a Social
Curiosity Measure in Adults
Britta Renner
Jacobs Center for Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development
International University Bremen
Curiosity refers to the desire for acquiring new information. The aim of this study was to de-
velop a questionnaire to assess social curiosity, that is, interest in how other people think, feel,
and behave. The questionnaire was administered to 312 participants. Factor analyses of the 10-
item Social Curiosity Scale (SCS) yielded 2 factors: General Social Curiosity and Covert So-
cial Curiosity. Evidence of convergent validity was provided by moderately high correlations of
the SCS with other measures of curiosity and self-perceived curiosity, whereas discriminant va-
lidity was demonstrated by low correlations of the SCS with other personality traits, such as
neuroticism and agreeableness. Of interest, social interaction anxiety was observed to facilitate
covert social curiosity while inhibiting general social curiosity.
Curiosity has been conceptualized as desire for new informa-
tion and knowledge (e.g., Berlyne, 1954; Kashdan, Rose, &
Fincham, 2004; Litman & Jimerson, 2004; Loewenstein,
1994). Given the importance of curiosity for learning and de-
velopment (Berg & Sternberg, 1985; Trudewind, 2000;
Trudewind, Mackowiak, & Schneider, 1999), personality
theorists developed various measures to assess individual dif-
ferences in curiosity. Most current measures for trait curios-
ity explore the desire to gain knowledge or sensory experi-
ence (e.g., interest in intellectual conundrums or interest in
new sights and sounds), but these instruments do not measure
social curiosity, defined as an interest in how other people be-
have, think, and feel. However, social curiosity is important
for the building and use of social networks and relationships,
which has been suggested as a central human task (Pickett,
Gardner, & Knowles, 2004). Therefore, the aim of the study
presented here was to develop a new scale to measure indi-
vidual differences in social curiosity.
FACETS OF CURIOSITY
It has long been the tradition to distinguish among various
facets of curiosity rather than viewing it as a monolithic con-
struct. For instance, Berlyne (1954) already drew a distinc-
tion between perceptual and epistemic curiosity. Building on
this conception, interest in curiosity has recently gained mo
-
mentum, as shown by the development of new scales to as
-
sess its various facets. For instance, perceptual curiosity re
-
fers to the acquisition of new information by sensory stimu-
lation (e.g., sights, sounds, odors) and is assessed by the re-
cently developed Perceptual Curiosity Scale (Collins,
Litman, & Spielberger, 2004). Another facet of curiosity re-
fers to the tendency to seek out opportunities for acquiring
facts, knowledge, and ideas, which is measured by the
Epistemic Curiosity Inventory (Litman & Spielberger,
2003). Of interest, the correlation of perceptual and
epistemic curiosity is moderate, supporting the notion of dis-
tinct dimensions of curiosity (Byman, 2005; Collins et al.,
2004; Litman & Spielberger, 2003). Furthermore, other
scales focus on the general capacity to experience curiosity
(Melbourne Curiosity Inventory; Naylor, 1981), assess curi-
osity as a function of novelty and absorption (Curiosity and
Exploration Inventory; Kashdan et al., 2004), or consider cu-
riosity as a feeling of deprivation aroused by not having ac-
cess to new information (Curiosity As a Feeling-of-
Deprivation Scale; Litman & Jimerson, 2004). In sum, the
main focus of research has been to explore curiosity in the
realms of perceptual experience and knowledge acquisition
rather than curiosity regarding the social world.
CURIOSITY IN THE SOCIAL WORLD
To function efficiently in a changing and complex social envi
-
ronment, humans require information about those around
them (Foster, 2004). Dunbar (2004) argued that gossip, in the
broad sense of conversation about social and personal topics,
First publ. in: Journal of Personality Assessment 83 (2006), 3, pp. 305-316
Konstanzer Online-Publikations-System (KOPS)
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is “the core of human social relationships, indeed of society it
-
self” (p. 100). Similarly, Baumeister, Zhang, and Vohs (2004)
suggested that the exchange of social information makes an
essential contribution to cultural learning. Thus, interest in
howotherpeoplebehave,think, andfeelappears tobea funda-
mental prerequisite of human relationships. The importance
of social curiosity was shown by a study assessing the content
of conversations in public settings (Dunbar, Marriott, &
Duncan,1997),whichfoundthatfortwothirdsofthetime,and
for both genders, conversations were mainly about “social
topics,” concerning either persons present or third parties. In a
similarvein, most researchers in the fields ofsocialperception
processes (e.g., Swann, Stephenson, & Pittman, 1981) and
evolutionary psychology (Dunbar, 2004) have assumed that
individuals seek knowledge of the social world to satisfy a
need for effective control over the environment.
Various measures have been developed in previous re-
search to assess aspects of social curiosity, such as social ex-
ploration and interpersonal curiosity, and for social
psychology the emphasis has been on contextual factors that
promote social exploratory behaviors. For instance, Swann et
al. (1981) showed that individuals who had recently been de-
prived of control demanded more diagnostic information
about a person they were due to interview than individuals
who had not been deprived of control. Similarly, Green and
Campbell (2000) developed the six-item Social Exploration
Index to assess how likely people are to join new social cir-
cles (“I would enjoy being introduced to new people”) or to
disclose personal information (“I would like to strike up a
conversation with a stranger on a bus or an airplane and open
up to the person.”). Although these measures appear to assess
different aspects of exploratory behavior as statelike or
traitlike individual differences, they do not measure the in-
tensity of the motive that elicits them.
In the field of daydreaming style and imaginal processes,
Singer and Antrobus (1972) developed the 12-item Interper-
sonal Curiosity scale as part of the Imaginal Process Inven-
tory for assessing individual differences in people’s interest
in others. However, reviewing the item content suggests that
the items assess aspects of interest in social information that
are related to daydreaming (e.g., “I often notice a person at a
restaurant or bar and wonder what he does for a living or
what kind of person he is.”) and an interest in the private lives
of others (“I am not interested in the personal lives of promi-
nent persons.”) rather than a general interest in gaining new
social information motivating exploratory behaviors. Con-
sistent with this notion, Litman and Pezzo (2005) found that a
shortened form of the Interpersonal Curiosity scale corre-
lated positively and substantially with attitudes and self-
evaluation for the transmission of gossip.
Current research instruments in perceptual and epistemic
curiosity emphasize the need for new stimuli or information.
In the same vein, social curiosity may be defined as an inter
-
est in gaining new information and knowledge about the so
-
cial world. From this perspective, there is a lack of
instruments for assessing individual differences in social cu
-
riosity. The possibility that various strategies might serve to
satisfy social curiosity must also be considered. For instance,
people may attempt to satisfy their social-related curiosity by
taking active steps to acquire information about other per-
sons, that is, asking them probing questions in the hope of un-
earthing hidden secrets. At other times, people might use less
intrusive methods for acquiring social information about a
person they are curious about, such as talking to their ac-
quaintances or becoming especially attentive when others
describe them (Swann et al., 1981). People might also use co-
vert, even privacy-violating, strategies such as eavesdrop-
ping on conversations or observing people surreptitiously.
The primary goals of this study were therefore to develop an
instrument for measuring social curiosity that focused on the
interest in acquiring new information and knowledge about
the social world and determining how this motivates explor-
atory behaviors.
CURIOSITY, ANXIETY, AND SOCIALIZATION
Curiosity is often discussed in relation to anxiety, which may
impact both the desire for acquiring new knowledge and ex-
ploratory strategies for satisfying curiosity. Curiosity and
anxiety have often been conceptualized as opposing motiva-
tional systems, with the assumption that high levels of anxi-
ety tend to inhibit curiosity (Kashdan, 2002; Kashdan &
Roberts, 2004a, 2004b; Spielberger & Starr, 1994). In sup-
port of this notion, Litman and Spielberger (2003) found a
small negative correlation between trait anxiety and
epistemic curiosity. Other studies have reported similar find-
ings regarding trait anxiety and measures of curiosity (Col-
lins et al., 2004; Kashdan & Roberts, 2004b; Litman &
Jimerson, 2004; Naylor, 1981). Furthermore, higher levels of
state social anxiety were associated with lower levels of state
curiosity (Kashdan & Roberts, 2004a).
An alternative perspective assumes that anxiety impacts
the strategies people use to satisfy their curiosity rather than
the desire for new information or experiences (Trudewind,
2000; Trudewind et al., 1999). For instance, highly anxious
children demonstrated overt exploratory behaviors, such as
asking questions or manipulating new objects, less fre-
quently compared to less anxious children (Lugt-Tappeser &
Schneider, 1987; Trudewind et al., 1999). However, highly
anxious children did not differ from less anxious children
with respect to their nonintrusive, observational behavior
(e.g., perceptual inspection of a new box from a certain dis-
tance). Similarly, Kashdan (2004) found a significant nega-
tive correlation between social interaction anxiety and the
Curiosity and Exploration Inventory, Exploration subscale,
whereas the relationship with the Curiosity and Exploration
Inventory, Absorption subscale was not significant. Accord
-
ingly, high socially anxious individuals might be as curious
as low socially anxious individuals but show less social ex
-
ploration.
306
Interest in social information and social exploratory be
-
haviors may also be modulated by social skills and compe
-
tences (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg, & Reis, 1988;
Mallinckrodt & Wei, 2005). Whereas exploratory strategies
such as asking questions are very effective in acquiring so-
cial information, a lack of social skills may prevent people
from using such overt methods. Similarly, individuals with
poor social relations, as indicated by low levels of social sup-
port and low levels of agreeableness, may be less motivated
and may have fewer opportunities to acquire social informa-
tion. Consistent with this notion, Green and Campbell (2000)
found a substantial negative correlation between an avoidant
attachment style and social exploration. Accordingly, inter-
est in new social information and exploratory behaviors
might be modulated by traits that either inhibit social interac-
tions and socialization (e.g., neuroticism, social anxiety) or
facilitate them (e.g., social competences, extraversion).
THIS STUDY
The aim of the study presented here was to develop a mea-
sure of social curiosity enabling the assessment of individ-
ual differences in the tendency to seek out novel social in-
formation. Furthermore, as information about the social
world can be gained by various behavioral strategies, this
study attempted to determine whether social curiosity is
multifaceted and compartmented into distinct domains of
interest. A further goal of the study was to determine the
convergent and discriminant validity of this scale by exam-
ining its relationship with other measures of curiosity and
other personality traits. In particular, it was predicted that
social curiosity is a distinguishable aspect of curiosity.
Finally, the study examined the relation of social curiosity
and social anxiety. The perspective that social anxiety and
social curiosity represent opposing motivational systems
derives the hypothesis that both variables evince a signifi-
cant negative correlation. Alternatively, based on the find-
ings of Trudewind and colleagues (Trudewind, 2000;
Trudewind et al., 1999), it is predicted that participants with
higher social interaction anxiety are equally motivated and
interested in new social information as participants lower in
social interaction anxiety, but the former rely more on co-
vert strategies to acquire social information.
METHOD
Participants
In total, 312 participants between the ages of 16 and 77 (66%
women) were recruited. There were 151 participants who
came from introductory and upper level undergraduate uni
-
versity courses, and the mean age of this “younger” adult
sample (77% female) was 24 years (SD = 4.2). There were
160 participants who came from the community and were re
-
cruited through advertisements. The average age of this
“older” adult sample (56% female) was 47 years (SD = 15.3).
The older adult sample was on average 23 years older than
the younger adult sample, t(309) = 17.32, p < .001, d = 1.97,
and included a larger proportion of men, χ
2
(1, N = 3) = 16.29,
p < .001, r = .23, d equivalent = .47.
One participant had to be excluded from the data set be-
cause he failed to complete 97% of the questionnaire. Fifty-
three participants (17%) had 3% or less missing values. For
these cases, missing items were imputed prior to forming
scales by averaging the items that remained (cf. Schafer &
Graham, 2002).
Instruments
Each participant received a questionnaire including 12
scales. In responding to each scale, the participants were in-
structed to report how they “generally perceive themselves”
on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree)to4
(strongly agree). Approximately 35 to 45 min were required
to fill in the questionnaire.
The Epistemic Curiosity Inventory and the Curiosity and
Exploration Inventory were translated into German in this
study by three bilingual and bicultural individuals and me us-
ing the parallel blind technique (Behling & Law, 2000).
Analyses indicated that internal consistencies of the German
and English versions were comparable, and exploratory fac-
tor analyses replicated the factorial structures of these scales.
EC.
The Epistemic Curiosity Inventory (EC; Litman &
Spielberger, 2003) consists of 10 items asking about one’s in-
terest in exploring new ideas and figuring out how things
work (e.g., “When I see a complicated piece of machinery, I
like to ask someone how it works.”). The newly translated
German version of the EC scale exhibited good reliability in
this study (α = .84, younger adult sample; α = .87, older adult
sample), which is comparable to previous research using the
English version of the EC scale that ranged between α = .81
and α = .85 (Litman & Spielberger, 2003).
CEI.
The seven-item trait version of the Curiosity and
Exploration Inventory (CEI; Kashdan et al., 2004) assesses
two dimensions of trait curiosity: (a) exploration, which re-
fers to appetitive strivings for novelty and challenge (e.g., “I
would describe myself as someone who actively seeks as
much information as I can in a new situation.”), and (b) ab-
sorption, which refers to flowlike activity engagement
(“When I am actively interested in something, it takes a great
deal to interrupt me.”). The German CEI scale alpha coeffi-
cients were at an acceptable level for both the younger (α =
.69) and older (α = .72) adult samples and were comparable
to the original English version, with alpha coefficients
ranged from .72 to .80 (Kashdan et al., 2004).
MCI.
The Melbourne Curiosity Inventory–Trait Form
(MCI; Naylor, 1981; German version: Saup, 1992) contains
307
20 items that assess individual differences in the general ca
-
pacity to experience curiosity (e.g., “I think learning ‘about
things’ is interesting and exciting.”). The internal consis
-
tency for the MCI was good, with alpha coefficients of .91
(younger adult sample) and .93 (older adult sample), which is
comparable to previous studies that yielded alpha coeffi-
cients of between .90 and .93 in adult samples (Naylor, 1981;
Saup, 1992).
SIAS.
The Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS;
Mattick & Clarke, 1998; German version: Stangier,
Heidenreich, Berardi, Golbs, & Hoyer, 1999) is a 20-item
measure assessing general fears and avoidance behaviors
concerning social interactions (i.e., “I find myself worrying
that I won’t know what to say in social situations.”). The in-
ternal consistency was good, with alpha coefficients of .92
(younger adult sample) and .91 (older adult sample), and was
very similar to alpha coefficients reported in previous re-
search, which ranged from .90 to .94 (Mattick & Clarke,
1998; Stangier et al., 1999).
Social competence measures.
Three different mea-
sures were chosen as indicators of social competence. The
Social Competence (Soziale Kompetenz) subscale of the Ger-
man version of the 16PF Fifth Edition (Schneewind & Graf,
1998) consists of 12 items (e.g., “I consider myself to be so-
ciable and self-confident in other people’s company.”). The
internal consistency of the scale in this study was good
(younger adult and older adult sample α = .92). The Interper-
sonal and Social Skills (Kontakt- und Umgangsfähigkeit)
subscale of the Frankfurter Self-Concept (FSC) Scale
(Deusinger, 1986) includes 6 items assessing sociability and
social interaction skills (e.g., “I have a good way of dealing
with other people.”). However, the internal consistency of the
scale was comparably low (α = .61, younger adult sample; α
= .58, older adult sample). The Perceived Available Social
Support subscale of the Berliner Social Support Scales
(BSSS; Schulz & Schwarzer, 2003) consists of 8 items as-
sessing whether people believe that other people are willing
to support them either emotionally or instrumentally when
necessary (e.g., “I know some people on whom I can always
rely.”). Reliability was good (α = .91, younger adult sample;
α = .86, older adult sample), replicating previous results re-
ported by Schulz and Schwarzer.
Personality traits.
Neuroticism, Extraversion, and
Agreeableness were assessed using the 12-item scales from
the German version of the NEO–Five Factor Inventory
(NEO–FFI; Borkenau & Ostendorf, 1993). Coefficient
alphas for the three traits obtained in the current study were
as follows: Neuroticism (α = .87 and .86 for both the younger
and older adult sample, respectively), Extraversion (α = .81
for the younger and older adult sample), and Agreeableness
(α = .78 and .77 for the younger and older adult sample, re
-
spectively). All alphas were comparable to those reported by
Borkenau and Ostendorf (1993; Neuroticism α = .85,
Extraversion α = .80, and Agreeableness α = .71) except for
the Agreeableness scale, which yielded somewhat higher
alphas in this study.
Self-ratings of curiosity and personality traits.
Self-
ratings are often quite valid measures of trait constructs
(Burisch, 1984). Therefore, participants were asked to rate
themselves on the following six personality traits: curiosity,
sociability, popularity, self-esteem, anxiety, and shyness.
Answers were given on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (def-
initely true)to4(definitely not true). Participants were also
asked to judge themselves on the six personality traits com-
pared to an average peer of the same sex. Answers were
given on a 7-point comparative rating scale ranging from 1
(much below average)to4(average)to7(much above av-
erage). Of interest, participants rated themselves on average
as being more curious than an average peer (M = 4.48, SD
= 1.17), t (311) = 7.21, p < .001, d = 0.82, suggesting that
participants appraised curiosity as a rather desirable trait.
No statistically significant differences emerged between the
younger (M = 4.52, SD = 1.21) and older adult samples (M
= 4.44, SD = 1.14), t (309) < 1, in terms of self-rated com-
parative curiosity. Absolute and comparative ratings corre-
lated highly for all six personality self-ratings (r = .53 to
.78, p < .001). For each personality trait, the absolute and
comparative ratings were collapsed after z transformation
into a single sum score.
RESULTS
The Development and Refinement of the SCS
The Social Curiosity Scale (SCS) was developed in four suc-
cessive steps. First, an initial pool of 45 items was developed
by experts and graduate students to assess a broad interest in
the acquisition of newinformation about howother people be-
have, think, and feel, which then motivates exploratory behav-
iors.The goal wastodevelop items that described a generalin-
terest in learning and acquiring new information about others
and social exploratory behavior. Second, 15 obviously redun-
dant or ambiguously worded items were deleted from this
pool. Third, the remaining 30 items were examined by one in-
dependentexpert,three psychology graduate students,andthe
author to determine whether they referred to an interest in ac-
quiring new interpersonal information. To achieve a concise
scale, any item that was not selected by all of the raters was re-
movedfromthepool.Thisresultedinareducedsetof15items,
which as a fourth step were submitted to statistical analyses.
Because previous research has shown age differences with re
-
spectto trait curiosity(Giambra,Camp, & Grodsky, 1992)and
related constructs such as openness to experience (Staudinger
& Kunzmann, 2005), statistical analyses were conducted sep
-
arately for the younger and older adult samples.
308
To identify the best items for measuring individual differ
-
ences in social curiosity, SCS items having item-total corre
-
lations of at least .30 and average interitem correlations of
.20 or higher were considered for retention (Comrey, 1988).
Separate principal axis factor analyses were computed for
the younger and older adult samples (Thompson, 2004) for
the 14 social curiosity items that met the criteria for retention.
The number of factors to extract was determined by three cri-
teria: Cattell’s scree test, the parallel analysis of the
eigenvalues, and Velicer’s minimum average partial (MAP)
test (cf. O’Connor, 2000). The scree test showed a substantial
drop in the eigenvalues after two factors for both samples.
The parallel analysis of the eigenvalues also suggested the
extraction of two factors. Specifically, within both samples,
the first two eigenvalues from the respective actual data set
(younger adult sample = 5.05, 1.84, 1.23, .90; older adult
sample = 5.27, 2.14, 1.07, .83) were greater than the
eigenvalues derived from the respective random data set
(younger adult sample = 1.55, 1.42, 1.31, 1.22; older adult
sample = 1.53, 1.40, 1.30, 1.22). Furthermore, the MAP test
also indicated the retention of two factors within both sam-
ples. A two-factor principle axis solution oblique (promax)
rotation was therefore examined separately for the younger
and older adult samples.
Factor loadings (pattern coefficients) of the 14 social curi-
osity items in the two-factor solution after oblique (promax)
rotation are reported in Table 1. Factor 1 was defined by 7
items with dominant loadings of .47 or greater for both sam-
ples. Factor 2 comprised 5 items with dominant loading of
.47 or greater for both samples. Two items (Items 13 and 14
in Table 1) had no clear dominant loading for the older or
younger adult samples. The content of the items that defined
Factor 1 described curiosity in other people’s habits, feel-
ings, and thinking (e.g., Item 1, “When I meet a new person, I
am interested in learning more about him/her.”) and is re
-
ferred to as General Social Curiosity. The second factor, Co
-
vert Social Curiosity, included items such as eavesdropping
on conversations or observing people surreptitiously (e.g.,
Item 9, “When on the train, I like listening to other people’s
conversations.”).
The next step was to select items from the two social curi-
osity factors. To create a concise measure, the five best items
of each factor were chosen to represent the corresponding
factor. The five items with strong loadings on Factor 1 were
selected to form the SCS–General (SCS–G) subscale, and the
five items that defined Factor II formed the SCS–Covert
(SCS–C) subscale. A principal axis factor analysis of the 10
SCS items yielded the two social curiosity factors with sim-
ple structure after oblique (promax) rotation (see Table 1).
All SCS–G items had dominant loadings on the first factor
for both groups, whereas the five SCS–C items all had domi-
nant loadings on the second factor. No dual loadings of .21 or
greater were found. An equal number of measured variables
are correlated with each factor, whereby all measured vari-
ables are appreciably correlated with only one factor, which
indicates a simple structure (cf. Thompson, 2004). The corre-
lations between the two factors were .52 for the younger and
.44 for the older adult sample. The two social curiosity
subscales were combined to form a 10-item SCS.
To further secure the two-factorial structure of the SCS,
confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) using maximum likeli-
hood solutions were conducted for both samples. The first
CFA model tested the hypothesized two-factorial model with
the two subscales SCS–G and SCS–C as correlated first-
order factors with paths leading to the 5 items hypothesized
to comprise that factor (cf. Figure 1). The fit statistics of the
309
TABLE 1
Rotated (Promax) Factor Loadings (Pattern Coefficients) for the 14 Items and for the 10 Items Social
Curiosity Scale
14 Item Scale 10 Item Scale
Item
No.
SCS–G SCS–C SCS–G SCS–C
Item Statement OA YA OA YA OA YA OA YA
1 When I meet a new person, I am interested in learning more about him/her. .79
.62 –.10 .12 .79 .63 –.06 .11
2 I’m interested in people. .78
.75 –.09 –.11 .75 .75 –.04 –.11
3 I find it fascinating to get to know new people. .76
.63 –.16 –.11 .74 .63 –.11 –.13
4 I like to learn about the habits of others. .68
.59 –.08 .00 .70 .59 .12 .04
5 I like finding out how others “work.” .68
.54 .04 .07 .67 .52 .09 .14
6 I’m interested in other people’s thoughts and feelings. .54
.47 .05 –.09
7 Other people’s life stories interest me. .47
.59 .16 .20
8 When other people are having a conversation, I like to find out what it’s about. .00 .02 .83
.80 .01 .04 .84 .83
9 When on the train, I like listening to other people’s conversations. .01 –.08 .78 .79 .03 –.02 .79 .76
10 Every so often I like to stand at the window and watch what my neighbors are doing. –.15 –.17 .73 .74 –.13 –.16 .71 .73
11 I like to look into other people’s lit windows. –.04 –.01 .64 .55 –.05 .02 .63 .48
12 When people quarrel, I like to know what’s going on. .22 .23 .58 .47 .17 .20 .59 .48
13 When I see a crowd, I go over to see what’s happening. .36 .16 .26 .34
14 I like to go to public places and watch the people going by. .35 .29 .23 .29
Note. Pattern coefficients > .40 are underlined. SCS–G = Social Curiosity–General subscale; SCS–C = Social Curiosity–Covert subscale; OA = older adult
sample (n = 160), YA = younger adult sample (n = 151).
two-factor model were compared to a more parsimonious
structural model consisting of a single social curiosity factor
with paths to all 10 items. In addition, both structural models
were compared to a null model assuming that there are no
factors present in the data (cf. Thompson, 2004). Structural
equation models were run with AMOS 5 (Arbuckle, 2003)
based on covariance matrices of the total sample and the two
subsamples. The factor variance was fixed to 1.0, and the
model fit was assessed by multiple goodness of fit indexes
(GFIs) based on recommendations by Kline (1998) and by
Hu and Bentler (1999). The chi-squares and other GFIs for
each model are reported in Table 2 for the two samples.
The chi-square statistics for the three models were signifi
-
cant within both samples (p < .01). The difference between
the chi-squares for these models indicated that the two-factor
model had the smallest chi-square, provided a better fit than
the one-factor model: younger adult sample, χ
2
(1, N =5)=
92.34, p < .001, and older adult sample, χ
2
(1, N = 60) =
218.01, p < .001. For both samples, the GFI, the comparative
fit index (CFI), standardized root mean square residual
310
FIGURE 1 Standardized factor loadings and interfactor correlation for the two-factor social curiosity model for younger adults (n = 151) and older
adults (n = 160; in parentheses).
TABLE 2
Goodness-of-Fit Indicators for Models of SC for the Younger Adult and Older Adult Samples, and Models
of Curiosity for the Total Sample
Model and Sample χ
2
df ∆χ
2
GFI CFI SRMR RMSEA 90% CI
Younger adult sample
a
General and covert
Social curiosity
Null model 480.86 45
One-factor SC model 163.05 35 317.81 .78 .71 .12 .16 .13 to .18
Two-factor SC model 70.71 34 92.34 .91 .92 .07 .08 .05 to .10
Older Adult Sample
b
General and covert
Social curiosity
Null model 686.78 45
One-factor SC model 284.77 35 402.01 .65 .61 .16 .21 .19 to .24
Two-factor SC model 66.76 34 218.01 .92 .95 .06 .07 .05 to .09
Total sample
Social and trait curiosity
Null model 736.21 15
One-factor SC model 81.88 9 654.33 .92 .90 .09 .16 .13 to .19
Two-factor SC model 33.69 7 48.19 .97 .96 .05 .10 .06 to .13
Note. N = 311. All χ
2
and all ∆χ
2
are significant at p < .001. SC = social curiosity; GFI = goodness-of-fit index; CFI = comparative fit index; SRMR =
standardized root mean square residual; RMSEA = root mean square error of approximation; CI = confidence interval.
a
n = 151.
b
n = 160.
(SRMR) index, and the root mean square error of approxima
-
tion (RMSEA) index were acceptable for the two-factorial
model but not within the acceptable range for the one-
factorial model. The standardized factor loadings for the
two-factor social curiosity model are presented in Figure 1
separately for both samples. As expected, the standardized
factor loadings were relatively high, ranging in magnitude
from .50 to .87. All factor loadings were significant indicat-
ing convergent validity (p < .001). The interfactor correlation
was moderate in size (younger adult sample, r = .51; older
adult sample, r = .40), which suggests discriminant validity.
Inanextstep,itwastestedwhetherthefactor loadingsofthe
SCS replicate across the two samples. Specifically, the initial
two-group model in which no equality constraints were im-
posed was compared with a two-group model in which facto-
rial loadings were constrained to be equal across both samples
(cf. Thompson, 2004). The goodness of fit of the model for the
two groups in combination and with no equality constraints
imposed were satisfactory (GFI = .91, CFI = .94, RMSEA =
.05, SRMR= .06), χ
2
(68, N = 3) = 137.47, p < .001. The model
with the factor loading constrained to be equal across groups
yielded χ
2
(76, N = 3) = 141.77, p < .001. The two models did
not differ significantly, χ
2
(8, N = 3) = 4.29, ns, indicating that
the factor loadings related to the two-factorial social curiosity
model were invariant. From the perspective of cross-
validation, this illustrated equality serves as support for the
two-factor social curiosity model.
Psychometric Properties of the Measures
The means, standard deviations, and effect sizes (Pearson’s
r) for sample differences for all measures are reported in Ta-
ble 3 separately for the younger adult and the older adult
sample. A number of significant differences was observed
between the younger and older adult samples. As Table 3
shows, the younger adult sample scored significantly higher
than the older adult sample on the total SCS, on the SCS–G,
and the SCS–C, ts(309) > 3.24, p < .01, r = –.18 to –.24. The
younger adult sample also scored higher than the older adult
sample on the Neuroticism scale, t(309) = 3.50, p < .001, and
the SIAS, t(309) = 4.48, p < .001, r = –.19 and –.26, respec-
tively. Moreover, the younger adult sample reported a signifi-
311
TABLE 3
Means, Standard Deviations, Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficients, and Effect Sizes for Sample Differences
(Pearson’s r) for Younger Adults and Older Adults
Total Sample
a
Younger Adults
b
Older Adults
c
Scale M SD α/r
d
MSDα/r
d
MSDα/r
d
r
Social SCS 26.26 5.23 .83 27.55 4.78 .81 25.06 5.37 .84 –.24***
Curiosity SCS–G 14.53 2.79 .82 15.16 2.56 .78 13.94 3.09 .85 –.18**
SCS–C 11.73 3.48 .81 12.39 3.39 .80 11.12 3.48 .83 –.21***
Trait MCI 59.52 8.41 .92 58.62 8.24 .91 60.11 8.53 .93 .09
Curiosity EC 30.12 5.14 .85 29.98 4.98 .84 30.25 5.33 .87 .03
CEI 20.59 3.19 .70 20.69 3.03 .69 20.48 3.35 .72 –.03
Social 16PF–C 31.81 7.97 .93 29.74 7.72 .92 33.67 7.64 .92 .25***
Competence FSC–C 17.76 3.04 .60 17.26 2.97 .61 18.17 2.97 .58 .15**
BSSS–A 27.87 3.69 .88 28.10 3.83 .91 27.50 3.62 .86 –.08
Anxiety SIAS 37.22 10.9 .92 40.34 11.2 .92 34.58 9.82 .91 –.26***
NEO N 25.01 6.90 .87 26.45 6.72 .87 23.83 6.71 .86 –.19***
E 32.39 5.80 .81 32.04 5.69 .81 32.66 5.78 .81 .05
A 37.48 4.91 .77 37.58 5.04 .78 37.27 4.79 .77 –.03
Curiosity
d
Absolute 3.16 0.75 3.24 0.70 3.09 0.80 –.10
Comp. 4.48 1.17 .64 4.52 1.21 .67 4.44 1.14 .62 –.03
Sociability
d
Absolute 3.07 0.76 3.01 0.76 3.12 0.76 .07
Comp. 4.16 1.29 .70 3.92 1.20 .70 4.38 1.35 .70 .18**
Popularity
d
Absolute 2.91 0.55 2.85 0.56 2.96 0.53 .09
Comp. 4.30 0.91 .57 4.21 0.89 .58 4.39 0.91 .54 .10
Self-Esteem
d
Absolute 2.89 0.71 2.79 0.73 2.98 0.67 .13*
Comp. 4.35 1.21 .72 4.16 1.25 .78 4.53 1.43 .63 .15**
Anxiety
d
Absolute 2.01 0.85 2.25 0.87 1.78 0.78 –.27***
Comp. 3.32 1.40 .66 3.70 1.41 .72 2.98 1.29 .58 –.26***
Shyness
d
Absolute 2.17 0.92 2.49 0.89 1.87 0.86 –.34***
Comp. 3.47 1.47 .64 3.85 1.42 .53 3.13 1.49 .68 –.24***
Note. SCS = Social Curiosity Scale; SCS–G = SCS–General subscale; SCS–C = SCS–Covert subscale; MCI = Melbourne Curiosity Inventory–Trait Form; EC
= Epistemic Curiosity Inventory; CEI = Curiosity and Exploration Inventory–Trait Form; 16PF–C = 16PF Social Competence subscale; FSC–C = Frankfurter
Self-Concept Scale–Interpersonal and Social Skills subscale; BSSS–A = Berliner Social Support Scale–Perceived Available Social Support subscale; SIAS =
Social Interaction Anxiety Scale; N = Neuroticism; E = Extraversion; A = Agreeableness; Absolute = absolute self-rating; Comp. = comparative self-rating.
a
n = 311.
b
n = 151.
c
n = 160
d
For self-ratings, correlation coefficients between absolute and comparative ratings are displayed. All correlations are significant at p <
.001.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
cantly higher perceived anxiety and a higher perceived shy
-
ness than the older adult sample (r = –.24 to –.27). On
average, younger adults scored significantly lower for social
competence measures than older adults on both the
16PF–Social Competence subscale, t(309) = –4.51, p < .001,
and the FSC Interpersonal and Social Skills subscale, t(309)
= –2.79, p < .001, r = .25 and .15, respectively. In accordance
with these results, the younger adult sample also reported a
significantly lower self-perceived self-esteem, and a lower
perceived comparative sociability, than the older adult sam-
ple (r = .13 to .18).
Construct Validity of the SCS and Subscales
To examine construct validity, correlations were computed
between (a) the SCS and the SCS–G and SCS–C and (b) trait
curiosity measures, personality measures, and perceived
traits (see Table 4). Because separate analyses of the two
samples yielded highly similar results, only data for the total
sample are subsequently reported. (The results for the two
subsamples are available on request from the author.)
Given the overlap of the items, the high correlations of the
SCS with the SCS–G and SCS–C were expected. The moder-
ate correlation of .41 between the SCS–G and SCS–C is con
-
sistent with the assumption that these two subscales assess
substantially related but meaningfully different components
of an underlying social curiosity dimension.
The significant positive correlations of the SCS with the
other three trait curiosity scales, ranging from r = .30 to .39,
provide evidence of convergent validity. However, these cor-
relations are due primarily to correlations between the
SCS–G and the trait curiosity measures. In particular, the
correlations of the SCS–G with the MCI scale, the EC scale,
and the CEI scale were all equal to or greater than .42. In con-
trast, comparably small albeit significant correlations were
found between the SCS–C and the other curiosity measures,
rs .12. Of interest, a different pattern emerged for the self-
rated curiosity score. The SCS and both subscales showed
comparable positive correlations with self-rated curiosity, all
rs .35. Thus, the SCS–G and SCS–C seem to assess distinct
components of social curiosity.
A significant positive correlation between the
Extraversion scale, the SCS, and both subscales emerged,
consistent with the notion that social curiosity and
extraversion overlap to some extent, rs .23. The correla-
tions of the SCS and the SCS–G with Neuroticism and
Agreeableness were essentially zero, which provides evi-
dence of discriminant validity. Only the subscale SCS–C
shows a significant positive correlation with Neuroticism (r
= .13), suggesting that negative affectivity is associated with
some degree of covert social curiosity.
A similar pattern of results emerged for SIAS. SCS–C cor-
related positively with the social anxiety scale (r = .18) and
self-rated anxiety (r = .13), suggesting that higher levels of
social anxiety are associated with higher levels of covert so-
cial curiosity. Conversely, the subscale SCS–G correlated
negatively with socially interaction anxiety (r = –.15), indi-
cating that social anxious participants tend to be less inter-
ested in acquiring new knowledge that is related to social and
interpersonal topics.
Exploring the relation of social competence and social cu-
riosity revealed that the correlations of the SCS, and particu-
larly the SCS–G, with the three social competence scales
were all higher than the corresponding correlations of the
SCS–C with these measures. Specifically, the SCS–G corre-
lated positively with the Social Competence subscale of the
16PF (r = .26), the Interpersonal and Social Skills subscale of
the FSC (r = .31), and the Perceived Available Social Sup-
port subscale of the BSSS (r = .20). Similarly, positive corre-
lations were found between self-rated sociability, self-rated
popularity, and the SCS–G subscale (r .26). Thus, high
general interest in social information was positively associ-
ated with
a positive evaluation of one’s own social abilities
and skills, especially the initiating and enjoyment of social
interactions, and the degree of perceived social support and
integration. In contrast, the SCS–C subscale only correlated
significantly with the Perceived Available Social Support
subscale and with self-rated popularity (r .16).
312
TABLE 4
Correlations Between Social Curiosity
Scales, Trait Curiosity Scales, and Other
Personality Measures
SCS SCS–G SCS–C
Social Curiosity
SCS–G .80***
SCS–C .87*** .41***
Trait Curiosity
MCI .39*** .52*** .16**
EC .30*** .42*** .12*
CEI .31*** .44*** .12*
NEO
Neuroticism .04 –.09 .13*
Extraversion .37*** .40*** .23***
Agreeableness .05 .10 –.01
Social Anxiety
SIAS .04 –.15** .18**
Social Competence
16PF–Competence .12* .26*** –.03
FSC–Competence .15** .31*** –.03
BSSS–Available Support .20*** .20*** .13*
Self-ratings
Curiosity .42*** .36*** .35***
Sociability .28*** .38*** .12*
Popularity .25*** .26*** .16**
Self-esteem .11 .22*** –.01
Anxiety .02 –.09 .13*
Shyness –.03 –.11 .06
Note. N = 311. SCS = Social Curiosity Scale; SCS–G = SCS–General;
SCS–C = SCS–Covert; MCI = Melbourne Curiosity Inventory–Trait Form;
EC = Epistemic Curiosity Inventory; CEI = Curiosity and Exploration
Inventory–Trait Form; FSC = Frankfurter Self-Concept Scale; BSSS =
Berliner Social Support Scale; SIAS = Social Interaction Anxiety Scale; self-
ratings = sum score of z-standardized absolute and comparative self-ratings.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .01.
Structural Relationship Between Social Curiosity
and Trait Curiosity
CFAs were conducted to examine the structural relationship
between social curiosity, other trait curiosity measures, and
self-perceived curiosity. The first CFA model to be tested
consisted of a correlated two-factor structure composed of a
Trait Curiosity factor measured by the three trait curiosity
scales (MCI, EC, and CEI) and a Social Curiosity factor mea-
sured by the two social curiosity subscales (SCS–G, SCS–C).
Considering the high correlations that were found between
the self-rated curiosity and the social curiosity scales, an ad-
ditional path from the self-rated curiosity to the Social Curi-
osity factor was included. Given the comparable high corre-
lations that were found between the self-perceived curiosity
and the trait curiosity scales (MCI, r = .40; EC, r = .38; CEI, r
= .37; all ps < .001), a path from the self-perceived curiosity
to the Trait Curiosity factor was also added. The second
model consisted of a single curiosity factor with paths to each
of the scales. Both structural models were compared to a null
model.
As Table 2 shows, all three structural models yielded sig-
nificant chi-squares (all ps < .001). However, the two-factor
model was superior to the one-factor model, χ
2
(2, N =3)=
48.19, p < .001, whereas the one-factor model had a signifi-
cantly better fit than the null model, χ
2
(6, N = 3) = 654.33, p <
.001. Only for the two-factor model were GFI and CFI
greater than .90 and SRMR less than or equal to .08. How-
ever, the RMSEA was greater than .08. Therefore, the chi-
square difference test and three out of four GFIs were most
supportive of the two-factor model, providing further evi-
dence that Trait Curiosity and Social Curiosity factors can be
empirically differentiated.
The two factors were positively correlated (r = .58), sug-
gesting that Trait Curiosity and Social Curiosity reflected
substantially related but distinct aspects of an underlying cu-
riosity construct. Factor loadings for the standard model
were as follows: (a) Trait Curiosity factor, MCI (.94), EC
(.82), CEI (.73), and (b) Social Curiosity factor, SCS–G (.92)
and SCS–C (.42). All factor loadings were significant (p <
.05). However, self-reported curiosity shared a significant
portion of variance with Trait Curiosity factor (.32) and So-
cial Curiosity factor (.22). Additional analyses, comparing
the initial two-group model in which no equality constraints
were imposed with a two-group model in which factorial
loadings were constrained to be equal across both samples,
showed that the structure of the two-factorial curiosity model
was invariant across the two samples, providing additional
support for the two-factor curiosity model, χ
2
(5, N =3)=
5.61, ns.
Social Curiosity and Social Anxiety
In a final step the relationship between the two different types
of social curiosity (general vs. covert) and social anxiety was
examined. In particular, it was tested whether high socially
anxious individuals tend to acquire interpersonal information
more frequently through covert behaviors while demonstrat
-
ing a comparable general interest in interpersonal informa
-
tion as low socially anxious individuals (cf. Trudewind et al.,
1999). Accordingly, an interaction between the type of social
curiosity (general vs. covert) and social interaction anxiety
(high vs. low) is expected.
High and low socially anxious individuals were selected
using the SIAS, including the upper and lower quartile of the
SIAS score distribution (cutoff scores SIAS = 53 and 25; n =
77, respectively). To determine the relationship between the
two types of social curiosity with social interaction anxiety,
repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were
conducted, with Type of Social Curiosity (general vs. covert)
as within-subject factor (whereby the levels of this within-
subject factor are viewed as separate dependent variables)
and Social Interaction Anxiety (low vs. high) as a between-
subjects factor. Results indicated a significant main effect,
Type of Social Curiosity, F(1, 152) = 91.57, p < .001, d =
1.55, and a significant Type of Social Curiosity × Social In-
teraction Anxiety interaction, F(1, 152) = 18.79, p < .001, d =
.70. Simple main effects analyses were then conducted to de-
compose the interaction. As Figure 2 depicts, participants
high in social interaction anxiety showed on average a signif-
icantly higher interest in covert interpersonal information ac-
quisition than participants low in social interaction anxiety
(M = 12.5, SD = 3.5 vs. M = 11.3, SD = 3.7), F(1, 152) = 4.59,
p < .05, d = .34. Conversely, high socially anxious partici-
pants reported a significantly lower general interest in new
interpersonal information than low socially anxious partici-
pants (M = 14.0, SD = 2.9 vs. M = 15.2, SD = 3.1), F(1, 152) =
5.83, p < .05, d = .40.
313
FIGURE 2 Mean covert and general social curiosity (and standard
deviation) as a function of social interaction anxiety (n=154). High
and low social interaction anxiety was based on the 25th and 75th
percentiles of the Social Interaction Anxiety scale, respectively.
DISCUSSION
The main goal of the study presented here was to develop an
assessment tool to measure individual differences in social
curiosity as a personality trait. Principal axis factor analyses
yielded two substantially correlated factors suggesting that
social curiosity is a multifaceted construct. The General So-
cial Curiosity factor describes a broad interest in the acquisi-
tion of new information about how other people behave, act
and feel. A second factor entitled Covert Social Curiosity
was composed of items expressing an interest in interper-
sonal information that is obtained primarily by unobtrusive
or covert exploratory behaviors. Overall, this study provided
a measure of social curiosity with an invariant two-factorial
structure across the two samples, good psychometric proper-
ties, and the expected pattern of convergent and discriminant
validity.
Social Curiosity and Trait Curiosity
Preliminary evidence of scale validity is encouraging. In par-
ticular, moderate positive correlations were found between
the SCS and measures assessing curiosity in the realms of
general knowledge and information acquisition (MCI, EC,
and CEI). Furthermore, both social curiosity subscales and
the three trait curiosity measures correlated significantly, and
to a comparable degree with self-perceived curiosity. A will-
ingness to label oneself as curious therefore appears to be
substantially related to the different facets of curiosity. The
pattern of results suggests considering social curiosity as a
related but distinct aspect of curiosity.
It is of interest that the relationship of social curiosity to
trait curiosity measures varied for the two subscales of the
SCS. Assessing general interest in others, the SCS–G
subscale revealed high positive correlations with other trait
curiosity measures compared to the SCS–C subscale. Ac-
cordingly, it appears that the SCS–C in particular measures
aspects of curiosity that are not assessed by other curiosity
scales.
The study included a younger and older adult sample,
and interesting differences with regard to social and trait
curiosity were observed. Specifically, the younger adult
sample reported higher scores on the social curiosity scales
than the older adult sample, whereas no differences were
found regarding epistemic and general curiosity. In con-
trast, Giambra et al. (1992) found that interpersonal and im-
personal–mechanical curiosity was unabated by aging.
These discriminant findings clearly need to be interpreted
cautiously, as they may reflect differences in the applied
measures and item content. Conceptualizing curiosity as a
gap between existing knowledge and the anticipated infor
-
mation gain (Loewenstein, 1994), differences across the
life span in social curiosity may reflect differences in social
norm and area of knowledge and expertise. Overall, more
research is needed to determine the generalizability of these
findings to samples not represented in the study presented
here.
Social Curiosity and Social Anxiety
A further interest of this study was to consider the relation-
ship between social curiosity and social anxiety. Previous
studies showed that high levels of social anxiety tend to in-
hibit trait curiosity (Kashdan, 2002; see also Mikulincer,
1997). Considering the SCS–G, the findings here appeared
similar to the results observed for these trait curiosity mea-
sures. Specifically, the SCS–G showed negative correlations
with the SIAS. However, analyzing the relationship between
social curiosity and social anxiety with respect to the SCS–C
suggested a somewhat different perspective. The negative
correlation of social curiosity and social anxiety was specifi-
cally related to the subscale SCS–G, whereas the subscale
SCS–C revealed a positive relationship with both the SIAS
and Neuroticism. Additional ANOVAs revealed an interac-
tion of social anxiety and social curiosity subscales, suggest-
ing that in comparison to lower socially anxious individuals,
higher socially anxious people report a higher level of inter-
est in acquiring interpersonal information through covert ex-
ploratory behavior such as eavesdropping conversations.
Conversely, an inverse pattern was found for the SCS–G
subscale.
Taken together, depending on the type of analysis, exist-
ing theoretical conceptions on the relationship between so-
cial anxiety and social curiosity were also observed in this
study. Considering the subscale SCS–G, a negative relation-
ship with social anxiety emerged, consistent with the notion
of opposing motivational systems of curiosity and anxiety
(Kashdan & Roberts, 2004a, 2004b; Spielberger & Starr,
1994). However, focusing on the subscale SCS–C, results
suggest that social anxiety modulates the means of satisfying
social curiosity rather than generally inhibiting the motiva-
tion for social curiosity (Trudewind, 2000; Trudewind et al.,
1999). More research is needed to delineate the differential
relationships between social anxiety and the various facets of
social curiosity.
Social Curiosity and Social Functioning
Considered from a broader theoretical perspective, social
curiosity may reflect different motives for acquiring infor-
mation about the social world. One important function of
social curiosity may be a reflection of the need to live in a
predictable and controllable social world (Swann et al.,
1981). Socially anxious individuals might therefore depend
more on covert curiosity because they are more in need of
(re)gaining control of their environment. Furthermore, so
-
cial curiosity might serve as a device for controlling social
cheats and free riders, as Dunbar (2004) proposed in the
realm of gossip (cf. also Litmann & Pezzo, 2005). Another
important function of social curiosity might be related to
314
cultural learning (Baumeister et al., 2004) and the need to
form a coherent map of the social environment (Foster,
2004). For instance, in many cases people perceive the ex
-
change of gossip as providing useful information for their
own lives (Baumeister et al., 2004). An interest in social
and interpersonal information is therefore a central prereq-
uisite for learning and development (Dunbar, 2004) and
may serve interpersonal attachments and feelings of be-
longing (cf. Baumeister et al., 2004; Baumeister & Leary,
1995). Thus, social curiosity might serve multiple motives
related to social functioning.
Consistent with this notion, the findings presented here re-
vealed positive correlations between the SCS and measures
related to social functioning, such as extraversion and social
competence. People who are interpersonally curious seem to
be more likely to be socially competent, sociable, and able to
build networks of relationships that provide support in the
face of stressful life events. However, this study was not de-
signed to specifically examine the relation of social curiosity
and social functioning, and these results therefore need to be
extended by future research. For instance, individual differ-
ences in responding to and processing new social and inter-
personal information might influence interpersonal
sensitivity (i.e., attention to and accuracy in decoding inter-
personal social cues). Findings from research on interper-
sonal perception have already demonstrated that social
experience facilitates the making and refining of social judg-
ments (e.g., Funder, 1999; Vogt & Colvin, 2003) and in-
creases empathic accuracy over time (e.g., Marangoni,
Garcia, Ickes, & Teng, 1995). Thus, socially curious individ-
uals might be proficient in adjusting their own behavior to
successfully form new relationships and maintain existing
ones (Kashdan & Roberts, 2004a, 2004b).
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I thank Katja Haese, Freda-Marie Hartung, Fay Geisler,
Felicitas Mander, Andries Oeberst, Anton Opholzer, Martina
Panzer, Youlia Spivak, and Matthias Stamm for their assis-
tance in conducting this study, and Tony Arthur, Almut
Weike, and Ute Kunzmann for their critical reading of the
manuscript. I am especially grateful to Harald Schupp for his
valuable suggestions for this article.
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... Curiosity has been considered a driving force in human development and learning (e.g., Baumeister, 2005;Berg & Sternberg, 1985;Kidd & Hayden, 2015;Oudeyer et al., 2016;Schneider & Schmalt, 2009). In psychology, it has been conceptualized as a desire for new information and experience that motivates people to explore their physical and social environment (Berlyne, 1954(Berlyne, , 1966Litman & Spielberger, 2003;Renner, 2006). However, although all humans have a desire for new information and knowledge, people differ in the strength of that desire and the resulting exploratory behavior (e.g., Loewenstein, 1994;Schneider & Schmalt, 2009;Spielberger & Starr, 1994). ...
... The concept of curiosity has been refined by considering the stimuli that elicit curiosity (e.g., Berlyne, 1954Berlyne, , 1966Berlyne, , 1978Collins et al., 2004;Litman & Pezzo, 2007;Litman & Spielberger, 2003;Renner, 2006). Accordingly, Berlyne (1954Berlyne ( , 1966Berlyne ( , 1978) drew a distinction between perceptual and epistemic curiosity. ...
... and α = .85 (Litman & Spielberger, 2003;Renner, 2006). On average, participants reported an epistemic curiosity of M = 2.96 (SD = 0.45). ...
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... Traditionally, research has conceptualized curiosity as a narrow construct with one or two highly correlated factors (e.g., Berlyne, 1954;Haugtvedt, 1992;Litman, 2008;Mussel et al., 2012). However, Kashdan et al. (2018), drawing from different lines of curiosity research (e.g., Renner, 2006;Roth & Hammelstein, 2012), argued that different conceptualizations of curiosity have tended to highlight different aspects and that curiosity is, hence, better conceived as a multifaceted construct. Distinguishing facets of curiosity aligns with a larger trend in personality psychology to study not only global traits but also more narrow facets in order to attain a more fine-grained description of individual differences, maximize predictive power for life outcomes, and gain a deeper understanding of psychological mechanisms (Danner et al., 2019). ...
... The resulting revised inventory (5DCR) theorizes a six-dimensional, still nonhierarchical, curiosity structure. The authors' intention in differentiating General from Covert Social Curiosity was to pay heed to findings suggesting that social curiosity comprises multiple dimensions (Litman & Pezzo, 2007;Renner, 2006). Furthermore, they surmised that this missing differentiation in the original 5DC (Kashdan et al., 2018) was responsible for the low criterion validity of the social curiosity facet compared to the other four facets. ...
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... The final atom questionnaire contained 12 items (Table S1 in Additional file 1 in the supplemental material). The second questionnaire comprised the 12 items of the Social Curiosity Scale (Renner, 2006) and the four extraversion and neuroticism items of the German version of the Big Five Inventory (Rammstedt & John, 2007). This questionnaire was used as part of a different study and scores will not be reported here. ...
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Neugier und Interesse im (frühen) Alter. - In: Zeitschrift für Gerontopsychologie und -psychiatrie. 5. 1992. S. 1-10
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We examined the roles of curiosity, social anxiety, and positive affect (PA) and neg- ative affect (NA) in the development of interpersonal closeness. A reciprocal self-disclosure task was used wherein participants and trained confederates asked and answered questions escalating in personal and emotional depth (mimicking closeness-development). Relationships between curiosity and relationship out- comes were examined using regression analyses. Controlling for trait measures of social anxiety, PA, and NA, trait curiosity predicted greater partner ratings of attrac- tion and closeness. Social anxiety moderated the relationship between trait curios- ity and self-ratings of attraction such that curiosity was associated with greater attraction among those low in social anxiety compared to those high in social anxi- ety. In contrast, trait PA was related to greater self-ratings of attraction but had no relationship with partners' ratings. Trait curiosity predicted positive relationship outcomes as a function of state curiosity generated during the interaction, even after controlling for state PA.