Measuring Epistemic Curiosity and Its Diversive and Specific Components

Jordan A. Litman, Charles D. Spielberger
2003 Journal of Personality Assessment  
A questionnaire constructed to assess epistemic curiosity (EC) and perceptual curiosity (PC) curiosity was administered to 739 undergraduates (546 women, 193 men) ranging in age from 18 to 65. The study participants also responded to the trait anxiety, anger, depression, and curiosity scales of the State-Trait Personality Inventory (STPI; Spielberger et al., 1979) and selected subscales of the Sensation Seeking (SSS) and Novelty Experiencing (NES) scales. Factor analyses of the curiosity items
more » ... he curiosity items with oblique rotation identified EC and PC factors with clear simple structure. Subsequent analyses of the EC items provided the basis for developing an EC scale, with Diversive and Specific Curiosity subscales. Moderately high correlations of the EC scale and subscales with other measures of curiosity provided strong evidence of convergent validity. Divergent validity was demonstrated by minimal correlations with trait anxiety and the sensation-seeking measures, and essentially zero correlations with the STPI trait anger and depression scales. Male participants had significantly higher scores on the EC scale and the NES External Cognition subscale (effect sizes of r = .16 and .21, respectively), indicating that they were more interested than female participants in solving problems and discovering how things work. Male participants also scored significantly higher than female participants on the SSS Thrill-and-Adventure and NES External Sensation subscales (r = .14 and .22, respectively), suggesting that they were more likely to engage in sensation-seeking activities. Curiosity is broadly defined as a desire for acquiring new knowledge and new sensory experience that motivates exploratory behavior (Berlyne
doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa8001_16 pmid:12584070 fatcat:bz453hrihzgsnejy2275oafks4