Abstract: What is curiosity? Across disciplines, some scholars offer a range of definitions while others eschew definitions altogether. Is the field of curiosity studies simply too young? Should we, as has been argued in neuroscience, press forward in definition-less characterization? At this juncture in the field's history, we turn to an examination of curiosity styles, and ask: How has curiosity been practiced over the last two millennia and how is it practiced today? We exercise a recent historico-philosophical account to catalogue common styles of curiosity and test for their presence as humans browse Wikipedia. Next we consider leading theories from psychology and mechanics that could explain curiosity styles, and formalize those theories in the mathematics of network science. Such a formalization allows theories of curiosity to be explicitly tested in human behavioral data and for their relative mental affordances to be investigated. Finally, with styles and theories in hand, we expand out to a study of several million users of Wikipedia to understand how curiosity styles might or might not differ around the world and track factors of social inequality. Collectively, our findings support the notion that curiosity is practiced---differently across people---as unique styles of network building, thereby providing a connective counterpoint to the common acquisitional account of curiosity in humans.
Bio: Prof. Bassett is the J. Peter Skirkanich Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Neurology, and Psychiatry. They are also an external professor of the Santa Fe Institute. Bassett is most well-known for blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks. They received a B.S. in physics from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, UK as a Churchill Scholar, and as an NIH Health Sciences Scholar. Following a postdoctoral position at UC Santa Barbara, Bassett was a Junior Research Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind. They have received multiple prestigious awards, including American Psychological Association's ‘Rising Star’ (2012), Alfred P Sloan Research Fellow (2014), MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant (2014), Early Academic Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2015), Office of Naval Research Young Investigator (2015), National Science Foundation CAREER (2016), Popular Science Brilliant 10 (2016), Lagrange Prize in Complex Systems Science (2017), Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science (2018), OHBM Young Investigator Award (2020), AIMBE College of Fellows (2020), American Physical Society Fellow (2021), and has been named one of Web of Science's most Highly Cited Researchers for 3 years running. Bassett is the author of more than 400 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered over 47,000 citations, as well as numerous book chapters and teaching materials. Bassett’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense, the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the Paul Allen Foundation, the ISI Foundation, and the Center for Curiosity. Bassett has recently co-authored Curious Minds: The Power of Connection (MIT Press) with philosopher and twin Perry Zurn.