The Five Dimensions of Curiosity

Updated: Jul 27

“Why, why, why?” We’ve all come to be bombarded by a curious child, and it always ends in one of two ways. Either they exhaust the extent of our knowledge, or they drive us mad. However, there is a lesser-used tactic that may help children dive more profoundly than ever before.

In our last article, Curiosity: An Ethical Endeavor, we discussed the fundamental elements that should bring curiosity to the center of education’s conversation. It frees our minds from confining fear and gives us vast opportunities.

As we now jump into the ins and outs of curiosity, we should begin with the essential components. Through the decades, psychologists have developed a five-dimensional theory to understand the drives of curiosity further. With them, we can develop a fresh way to handle the curious child as we find what drives them as we push them in the right direction on their own.

Five Dimensions of Curiosity (1)(2)

Joyous Exploration

The first of these dimensions is joyous exploration. What we find in this component is just that—the inspiration and motivation in the search for knowledge. Our classic four-year-old that has a hundred why’s a day is the prime example of this. Through the years, we find this dimension develops into our passions and desires. Yet, for too many, they fade as we forget ourselves.

Deprivation Sensitivity

Have you ever felt out of place where everyone knew something you didn’t? The angst of not being able to partake in a particular conversation is uncomfortable. An apparent gap in knowledge and the emotions attached to it bring us to the second dimension, deprivation sensitivity. For your confident friends of stone—the silence of not knowing becomes the opportunity to grow, and that’s precisely how we should use it. These individuals bring us to our next component.

Stress Tolerance

If we take the opposite end of the spectrum and submerge ourselves in the unknown, we find Stress Tolerance. When we head into the unknown, fear, confusion, anxiety, and all forms of distress can consume us. Our tolerance and readiness to integrate these feelings in our lives are needed if we want to explore our curiosities. For without them, we are not genuinely exploring the unknown.

Thrill Seeking

Often, when we explore our curiosity, it means we are attempting to change. With change comes risk. Therefore thrill-seeking can be a significant component. It is the rush of novel experiences that can push us into the unknown once more.

Social Curiosity

Personally, the fifth and final dimension is one that drives most of my curiosity. People who identify with this dimension are curious as to the thoughts and experiences of other individuals. This motive pushes them to observe and engage in social interactions.

Psychological Types of Curiosity (2)

No two curious individuals are alike, and we are all driven into unfamiliar worlds with different hopes and dreams at heart. Psychologists noticed this and have developed four categories. They define our type of curiosity and tell us where most of our motivation comes from.

Fascinated Type

These individuals make up about 28% of the population. High on all five dimensions, they will eventually find interest in almost all aspects of their life. With wide eyes and open minds, nothing is impossible, and the world is full of wonder.

Problem Solvers

Problem solvers push to find the informational gaps that can lead to conflict and other complications. To achieve this, they excel and score highly on deprivation sensitivity while scoring moderately on all the other four dimensions. It is possible that seeing discrepancies within systems, patterns, and people becomes the focal point of their curiosity. Finding bridges becomes their motivation.


Empathizers are looking to understand others. Driven by a high score on social curiosity, they make up 25% of the population, just like problem solvers. Great philosophers, most profound artists, and the most dynamic politicians have taken a keen liking. The human experience is sophisticated and proves to ensure countless avenues for curiosity.

The Avoiders

The last category is those who aren’t curious at all. The avoiders score low on all the dimensions within the theory. Since they are curiosity adverse, a low-stress tolerance score is one of the biggest hindrances.

Curiosity Types (3)

Britannica has taken a unique approach as they have developed a type system. Called Curiosity Compass, it types individuals as artists, explorers, scientists, or inventors. Like the MBTI approach of personality, this system takes a lighter perspective. This system puts curiosity on two different axis and standards on which it judges all.

1. Intuitive vs. Inquisitive

2. Creator vs. Discoverer


Artists make up the curiosity types that use intuitive feeling in combination with the will to create. These individuals can be artists, writers, photographers, and so on. With that, they draw similarities with Empathizers since the human experience is at the core of art.


Explorers use intuition like the artist but look to discover the world instead of creating within it. Around every corner is a possibility, and oceans are merely just a pond that must be crossed. With their eyes to the ground and ears to the air, explorers are here, there, and everywhere!


Scientists take on a systematic approach. As they discover, they use inquisition as their drive to find more.


Last, inventors are the inquisitive creators—often taking on the unknown with systematic development. The artists of practicality if you will.

Final Thoughts

Taking on curiosity and integrating it into our educational system will be vital for our ability to grow and expand. Understanding the fuels of students wonder and how they express it will be an essential part of developing the public education arena of tomorrow. With these dimensions and types in mind, we can understand students in a new light.

Community Engagement Question

Now, activate your pool of curiosity. How can the five dimensions and different distinct types of curiosity shape the landscape of the classroom? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Special Thanks!

Photo by Justin Peterson on Unsplash

(1)Psychology Today


(3)Britannica Curiosity Compass

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

© 2020 by At Your Service. Proudly created with