People possess differing degrees of curiosity about various aspects of life; for example, it is possible to be highly curious about the origin of the universe, how stars are formed, and the astronomical cycles, yet have no desire to know or learn anything about investing in the stock market. Similarly, individuals vary in the degree to which they are curious about other cultures and the people within them. A sojourner may be deeply curious about African art but not about conflict resolution strategies in Ghana. This entry will examine definitions of curiosity, research on its relationship to intercultural competence, and the contribution of curiosity to effective interaction across cultures.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines curiosity in a general sense as “the desire or inclination to know ...

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