Social Curiosity and Its Functions

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HARTUNG, Freda-Marie, 2010. Social Curiosity and Its Functions [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Hartung2010Socia-10138, title={Social Curiosity and Its Functions}, year={2010}, author={Hartung, Freda-Marie}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

Hartung, Freda-Marie We live in a highly complex social world. To understand our social environment, to be socially embedded, and to be able to handle our social environment is of crucial importance for our psychological and physical well-being (e.g., Baumeister, 2005; Baumeister & Leary, 1995; House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988). Therefore, an eagerness for information about the thoughts, feelings and behavior is a characteristic part of human social life (Baumeister, 2005; Dunbar, 1996, 2004). The desire to acquire new information about other people and the resulting exploration of the social environment is referred to as social curiosity (Renner, 2006). It has been proposed that social curiosity serves multiple functions: The acquisition of social information and knowledge, the formation of interpersonal relationships and networks, and the controllability of the social world (Renner, 2006). The overarching aim of the present thesis was to extent the knowledge about the concept of social curiosity. Therefore, studies are presented that investigated social curiosity and its proposed functions.<br />In the first study, the relationship of social curiosity and gossip was examined (Chapter 2). Gossip refers to talk in an evaluative way (positive or negative) about absent third parties (Foster, 2004). Traditionally, social curiosity and gossip are studied in distinct research fields. However, upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that highly similar functions are discussed for social curiosity and gossip (e.g., Foster, 2004; Renner, 2006). Results of the present study showed that social curiosity and gossip are related constructs but with a different pattern of social functions. Social curiosity appears to serve primarily purposes of social information acquisition and social bonding whereas gossip appears to serve predominantly entertainment purposes. Thus, social curiosity and gossip represent related but distinct aspects of social participation.<br />In the second study, it was examined whether social curiosity facilitates the acquisition of information and knowledge about the social environment (Chapter 3). As personality judgments are an inescapable and relevant aspect of first encounters, this assumption was tested by examining the impact of social curiosity on the accuracy of personality judgments in a becoming acquainted situation. Results showed that high socially curious perceivers were more accurate when judging the Extraversion and Openness of their interaction partners. Examining the process of personality judgments indicated that the higher accuracy was grounded in a more comprehensive utilization of relevant information (verbal and nonverbal behavior, physical attributes). Social curiosity appears to impact the accuracy and the process of judgments for those traits that are prevalent and observable in initial interactions. Thus, the study provided important evidence that socially curious individuals had acquired knowledge how traits that play an important role in initial interactions are reflected in behavior.<br />In the third study, it was examined whether social curiosity facilitates the building of social relationships (Chapter 4). To test this assumption the impact of social curiosity on interaction quality in a becoming acquainted situation was investigated. Results showed that the quality of interaction with socially curious interaction partners was experienced as being more positive. Further analysis showed that this relation was due to the behavior of socially curious individuals. Socially curious interaction partners displayed not only more exploratory behaviors (e.g., asked more questions) but also more responsive behaviors (e.g., engaged in eye contact, responded to what interaction partner said). Thus, the study provided evidence that social curiosity facilitates first encounters, and consequently, may foster the building of social relationships.<br />Taking together, the findings of the present thesis support the notion that the desire to acquire new information about other people and the resulting exploration of the social environment serve multiple functions. The acquisition of information and knowledge about the social world, the building of social relationships and networks, and the controllability of the social world are important aspects of social participation and prerequisites to function efficiently in a highly complex social world. Thus, social curiosity seems to be an important ingredient of social life. 2011-03-25T09:14:25Z Social Curiosity and Its Functions deposit-license Hartung, Freda-Marie deu application/pdf 2010 2011-03-25T09:14:25Z

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