Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Development and Testing of the Elements of the Nature Curiosity Scale

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Development and Testing of the Elements of the Nature Curiosity Scale

Article excerpt

The natural environment constitutes, on one hand, a source of food and basic materials to build shelter and, on the other hand, a significant source of danger: such as threats from the animal kingdom, or risks connected with exploring any given terrain. Of all the risks that humans face, the most important are hazards connected with elements of nature. Snowstorms, tornados, tsunami, and other hazards caused by elements of nature are the main threats for many people in the world (Steg, van den Berg, & de Groot, 2012).

People's reactions to natural hazards are varied. Natural hazards can evoke a range of negative emotions: fear, anger, or terror (Andrews & Gatersleben, 2010). Some people are curious about natural hazards: they like watching lightning discharges or floods rushing through towns; they are also interested in watching television programs about volcanic eruptions or avalanches, and they read books describing the struggles of people against the power of nature (e.g., Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea). This is a phenomenon that psychologists have found intriguing because individuals are intrinsically fascinated with issues that are potentially dangerous or destructive for many people (van den Berg & ter Heijne, 2005). I found it surprising that no scale existed in source literature for diagnosing people's curiosity about the hazards caused by elements of nature; so the main purpose of this study was to develop a tool for this purpose.

Curiosity

Curiosity is an intrinsic human need to seek new information and new sensory experiences that motivates exploratory behavior (Kashdan, 2009; Litman, 2010). The first theories of curiosity emerged in the 1950s during an explosion of research on exploratory behavior: Berlyne (1954), who was at the forefront in this research, explicitly differentiated between epistemic and perceptual curiosity. Epistemic curiosity is aroused by scientific theories or intellectual conundrums, which motivates testing hypotheses to fill a gap in existing knowledge using symbolic representation. Perceptual curiosity is evoked by sensory stimulation (e.g., sights, sounds), and motivates behaviors such as visual inspection in order to acquire new information.

Although these two types of curiosity proposed by Berlyne (1954) remain the dominant inspirations for the theoretical model in contemporary curiosity research, recent researchers proposed the concept of D-type curiosity, which involves reducing undesirable states of informational deprivation (Litman, 2010). Accordingly, in measures of D-type curiosity, scores are positively correlated with unpleasant feelings of tension or frustration, such as anxiety and anger (Litman & Jimerson, 2004).

Although these three types of curiosity are different from each other, it seems that their common denominator is the notion of curiosity being connected to the search for new experiences and knowledge. People who are curious focus their attention on current events, carefully analyze information, retain that information for long periods of time, and show great persistence in their assimilation. Curious people learn better than do people who are not curious and curious people are also strongly interested in understanding and explaining the world (Kashdan, 2009; Litman, 2008). Curiosity is important in the development of intelligence, wisdom, and coping with stress (Renninger, Hidi, & Krapp, 1992). Lack of curiosity, on the other hand, may be a risk factor for anxiety disorders (Silvia, 2006).

A number of constructs have been proposed that share crucial aspects with curiosity. The Epistemic Curiosity Scale (Litman & Spielberger, 2003) and the Perceptual Curiosity Scale (Collins, Litman, & Spielberger, 2004) measure different facets of trait curiosity based on Berlyne's (1954) theoretical view. Kashdan et al. (2009) developed the Curiosity and Exploration Inventory Scale comprising two subscales to assess interest in exploration of new things and levels of absorption when engaged in curiosity, respectively. …

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