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Interpreting Your Leadership Curiosity Results


Compare your average scores for each section from the assessment with the results below of a nationally representative sample of people in the United States.


The Five-Dimensional Curiosity Model

The five-dimensional curiosity model measures how you are curious with the five dimensions of the curiosity model. The model is the work of researchers from George Mason University. Full details available from HBR ReprintR1805B.


This first dimension is recognizing a gap in knowledge the filling which offers relief. This type of curiosity doesn’t necessarily feel good, but people who experience it work relentlessly to solve problems.


Joyous exploration is being consumed with wonder about the fascinating features of the world. This is a pleasurable state; people in it seem to possess a joie de vivre.


Social curiosity involves talking, listening, and observing others to learn what they are thinking and doing. Social curiosity may extend into snooping, eavesdropping, and gossip.



Stress tolerance is a willingness to accept and even harness the anxiety associated with novelty. Without this ability, an individual sees information gaps, has a lower appreciation of wonder, and while interested in others, may be unlikely to step forward and explore.



Thrill seeking is the willingness to take physical, social, and financial risks to acquire varied, complex, and intense experiences. For people with this capacity, the anxiety of confronting novelty is something to be amplified, not reduced.


The study authors recognized that joyous exploration has the strongest link with the experience of intense positive emotions. Stress tolerance has the strongest connection with satisfying the need to feel competent, autonomous, and a sense of belonging. Social curiosity has the strongest link with being a kind, generous, modest person.

The authors also discovered that four of the dimensions—joyous exploration, deprivation sensitivity, stress tolerance, and social curiosity—improve work outcomes. The latter two seem to be especially important: Without the ability to tolerate stress, employees are less likely to seek challenges and resources and to voice dissent and are more likely to feel enervated and to disengage. Socially curious employees are better than others at resolving conflicts with colleagues, more likely to receive social support, and more effective at building connections, trust, and commitment on their teams. People or groups high in both dimensions are more innovative and creative.


“A monolithic view of curiosity is insufficient to understand how that quality drives success and

fulfillment in work and life. To discover and leverage talent and to form groups that are greater

than the sum of their parts, a more nuanced approach is needed.”

[1] Todd B. Kashdan, David J. Disabato, and Fallon R. Goodman of George Mason University; Carl Haughton is a linguist and educational scientist.


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