Inquisitive but Not Discerning: Deprivation Curiosity is Associated with Excessive Openness to Inaccurate Information
Epistemic curiosity (the desire for knowledge) is considered a catalyst for learning and innovation. The current research reveals another, darker side of curiosity, which emerges when we examine the independent contributions of the two facets that make up epistemic curiosity—interest and deprivation curiosity. In four preregistered studies (collective N = 2020), we show that interest curiosity, a facet of curiosity motivated by the joy of exploration, is associated with traits and abilities
... benefit learning. These include general knowledge (Studies 1-4), intellectual humility (Studies 1-4), responsiveness to new information (Studies 1, 3 & 4), and accuracy in distinguishing real and made-up concepts (Studies 1-4). In contrast, deprivation curiosity, which is motivated by the desire to reduce uncertainty, is associated with mistakes and confusion. Individuals high in deprivation curiosity claim familiarity with novel information (Studies 1 & 3) and made-up concepts (Studies 1-4). They find meaning in pseudo-profound and pseudo-scientific "bullshit" (Studies 3 & 4) and are prone to believing and sharing disinformation or "fake news" (Study 4). To make matters worse, they lack intellectually humility (Studies 1-4), and are thus unlikely to recognize their mistakes. We find that these difficulties are not explained by narcissistic self-enhancement (Study 2) or lack of analytic thinking (Study 4), and only partially accounted for by need for closure (Study 3). We theorize that deprivation curiosity is characterized by an indiscriminate openness to information.