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What is curiosity? Is it an involuntary drive that has engendered the survival of humanity, or a voluntary motivation to explore?

Primitive human were driven by an insatiable desire to know and understand the world. This desire was curiosity, an emotion that motivated you to learn and explore. Arguably, it could be said that without curiosity human beings would still be in the proverbial cave, lacking in all motivation to learn and investigate.

Inquisitive behavior is natural to all animal species, including humans, giving rise to social interaction and exploration of the environment. Babies are curious about everything, using touch and taste to explore their surroundings, and this emotion continues into adulthood, compelling people to achieve remarkable things.

Finnish writer, V. A. Koskenniemi said, "Curiosity is the knocker at the door of wisdom".

In myth and legend, curiosity is often used as a construct to demonstrate the virtue of moral fortitude and self control. Those characters, who give in to their desires, most often women, suffer dire consequences. The most well known example is the biblical story of Genesis. Eve's curiosity leads her to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which leads to the fall of mankind.

In Greek mythology, the first woman, Pandora, is compelled by her inquisitive nature to open a box, which releases all evil into the world. The lovers Psyche and Cupid are also victims of curiosity. Psyche steals a forbidden glimpse at Cupid, causing the god to flee from her sight and leaving her to roam the world in search of her love.

While curiosity is an innate instinct it is one that needs to be nurtured. Babies discover their place in the world by exploring things that they do not understand, and for this they need stimuli. This can be achieved by hanging colorful mobiles above their cots, or by placing toys in their path, such as different shaped boxes of bells, as babies will naturally reach out and touch whatever is in front of them.

As your child grows older include objects that engage their cognitive processes, such as pattern blocks and puzzles. Around age three, your child will start to interact with others and test the abilities of their own bodies. Set up a well padded area to allow them to swing, jump and climb.

Curiosity is a reaction to external stimuli, such as hunger and thirst, leading you to seek and explore. But is there more depth to this emotion? You decide.


Are you born curious or is this a trait that is learned out of necessity?

Curiosity is an ancient emotion, necessary to the survival of a species. In mammals, reptiles and insects alike this basic instinct is expressed through exploration, the need to seek out shelter, a mate and food sources.

Exploratory behavior may be observed in human adolescence as teenagers become more curious about their own bodies and sexuality.

Curiosity about far away places and cultures has given rise to many great explorers such as Christopher Columbus.


Throughout history human curiosity has contributed to the evolution of though, turning the wheels of science and invention.

Curiosity about what lies above and below the Earth has led to technological advances in travel, from steam trains and hot air balloons, to aeroplanes, ships and submarines, and even a rock to the Moon.

The science of curiosity is motivated by the need to know the workings of all things, from the anatomy of the human body to the structure of the atom.

Archaeological excursions to ancient sites are motivated by a curiosity about the past and a desire to unlock its secrets. For example, the great pyramids of Giza.


The desire to know extends beyond the boundaries of the physical world, into the realms of magic, divination, spirit and dream.

Curious about what the future holds? There are choices of divination tools that people seek out to foretell the future, such as, astrology, tasseography, palmistry, Tarot and I Ching.

Inquisitive about the meanings of your dreams? You can learn to interpret your dreams and decode dream symbols and assuage your curiosity about your inner self.

If you are curious about the spirit world you can learn about the realm of spirits and ghosts. Receive visions of the afterlife or explore other worlds though astral projection.

More about this author: Janette Peel

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