The Infant Curiosity Questionnaire

Altmann, E. C. and Bazhydai, Marina and Karadag, Didar and Westermann, Gert (2022) The Infant Curiosity Questionnaire. In: The International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS), 2022-07-07 - 2022-07-10.

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There are numerous theoretical frameworks attempting to define and explain curiosity, such as the knowledge gap theory (Loewenstein, 1994), the interest-deprivation theory (Litman & Jimerson, 2004), as well as the early, influential specifications of Berlyne (e.g. epistemic vs. perceptual curiosity and specific vs. diverse exploration, 1960). However, the concept remains elusive with open questions especially regarding its emergence and mechanisms in infancy. While there are several self-report measures for adult and some for child curiosity relating to the aforementioned theories, there has not been any measure developed yet for infants. Here, we present a newly developed caregiver-report questionnaire measuring infants’ general curiosity across a target age range of 5 to 24 months. Rather than constraining behavioral expressions of curiosity to a specific theoretical framework, we instead adopt a broad definition of infant curiosity as a keen desire or tendency to actively explore one’s immediate surroundings. We developed 36 items reflecting various behaviors and developing skills with which infants can actively explore and interact with their environment from birth onwards. Caregivers are asked to evaluate how well each item reflects their child’s typical behavior on a Likert-scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) with an option of ‘not applicable (NA)’ for behaviours the child does not display (perhaps because they are too young). An item applicable for younger infants is for instance “When my child encounters an object, they are likely to put it in their mouth for further inspection (e.g., to see what it feels or tastes like).” Other items referring to skills such as interacting socially (e.g., “When reading a picture book together, my child directs me (e.g., by pointing) towards what they want to know more about.”) may only become applicable later on. The survey was piloted on N = 22 participants of a constrained age group (Mage = 11.53, 41% female). The measure showed good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .85). Each item created variance but had, as expected, a positively skewed response load. Furthermore, an item directly asking caregivers about how curious they perceived their child to be, significantly correlated with the child’s mean curiosity score (R = 0.44, p = 0.043) suggesting predictive construct validity. Preliminary results are promising in that the measure captures individual differences in infants’ general curiosity while keeping the number of items and response time low. Small adjustments have been made and data collection from a wider population across the full age-range with a target sample size of N = 360 is currently ongoing. Reliability analyses as well as structural equation modelling has been preregistered on This new measure will help us understand infant curiosity, its development, expression, and potential stability from a very early age. It may also inform experimental studies by explaining additional variance of active engagement.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Poster)
Journal or Publication Title:
The International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS)
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Deposited On:
14 Nov 2022 15:45
Last Modified:
09 Feb 2024 01:18