Which Type Are You? The Three Types Of Knowledge Seekers

Andy Hab
2 min readDec 7, 2021
Photo 20705382 © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com

Don’t some of us just seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge?
Sure, but don’t assume that all people fall into this category — a misunderstanding of those just simply fascinated by knowledge and learning.

Research by Christopher Kelly and Tari Shalot of University College London have identified three types of knowledge seekers.

And what are these?
In a study of 543 people who were asked about what information they wanted and how it made them feel they identified these types:

  1. Expected utility — is this information useful for me?
  2. Emotional impact — how will this information make me feel?
  3. Relevant to things they thought of often — does it help my thinking or knowledge base?

But won’t this change according to the topic?
Well, actually no. They found that most people were pretty consistent across the exercises. But they also repeated this a few months later with many of the same participants and saw similar patterns again. This suggests that it is more trait-like, a part of your personality, than based on your state or context.

So this means that people who say things like “the information you give has to be practical and useful” are just one type?
Yes, normally corporate leaders, who want utility from information. Sometimes they can’t understand that others may think differently.

Right, and what type are you?
Can’t you guess? I’m the third type — but I think about a lot, so I like a lot of information on a lot of topics…it’s why I write these articles!

Christopher. A. Kelly, Tali Sharot.
Individual differences in information-seeking.
Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1)
DOI: 10.1038/s41467–021–27046–5

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Andy Hab

The brain and human behaviour, in business, society, learning, and health.