Over 8 in 10 adults claim they're still eager to learn new things
Britain is a self-proclaimed nation of curious thinkers – with 84 per cent of adults claiming they are eager to learn.
However, more than half (54 per cent) feel their curiosity has ‘plateaued’ over the last two years.
And a further third (31 per cent) wish to be more inquisitive over life and its pleasures, with this rising to nearly half (46 per cent) of Gen Z.
For those whose curiosity has stalled, the most common reasons are getting older (38 per cent) or feeling an overload of information from the internet and media alike (24 per cent).
The research of 2,000 adults found the top signs someone is a curious thinker are asking lots of questions (71 per cent), being keen to learn (50 per cent) and learning skills voluntarily (48 per cent).
And when it comes to perception by others, curiosity is most seen as being inquisitive (41 per cent), imaginative (35 per cent) and creative (34 per cent).
To help inspire the nation and encourage them to ‘rewild’ their curiosity, Hendrick’s Gin, which commissioned the research, has unveiled its ‘Curious Idols’ on London’s South Bank.
A collective of three sculptures, each theatrical piece of art immortalises one of the inquisitive minds shaping this century and is inspired by their passions and wonders.
Actress Patricia Allison, writer Alice Vincent and the drag queen gardener, Daisy Desire were chosen for their collective love of pushing boundaries and willingness to explore life.
Commenting on her Curious Idol installation, Patricia Allison said: “My love for theatre, film and performance has always been a way for me to further my artistry and deepen my curiosity about human nature and our surroundings.
“I’ve always loved having the freedom to explore different realms of self-expression, so I’m delighted that Hendrick’s new campaign focuses on that same curiosity within all of us, and has given me a wonderful opportunity to bring this feeling to more people in a somewhat meaningful and accessible format, to help inspire more self-reflection in our society.”
Rewilding the nation's curiosity
The research also revealed David Attenborough was voted as the most curious thinker of all time, followed by physicist, Professor Brian Cox.
Other household names such as Gen Z rated film-maker Christopher Nolan, artist David Hockney and author Dolly Alderton made the most list too.
When it comes to these curious minds, the study, via OnePoll.com, uncovered that a third (33 per cent) believe they should be celebrated.
While half of young people aged 18-34 feel they could learn how to be more confident (52 per cent) and would feel more curious if they had inspirational role models (49 per cent).
Exactly half of the public are most curious about nature and people, alongside history (47 per cent) and travel (46 per cent).
Whilst over three in 10 (31 per cent) would like to be more curious about things in general, and 40 per cent think people should be encouraged to do this more often.
The poll also revealed 23 per cent believe the internet has decreased the nation’s curiosity, as we have ‘the answers at our fingertips’, a belief most commonly held by people aged 18-34.
James Keen for Hendrick’s, which is displaying The Curious Idols between 13th – 18th June 2023 on Bernie Spain Gardens, said: “Curiosity can come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s that fundamental love of seeking out new thinking and experiences that unites our passion.
“It’s interesting as the research found nature has such a profound impact on the nation to explore, and likewise, the wonders of flora and pollinators is something that vastly inspires us at Hendrick’s Gin and was even the inspiration behind our new limited-release gin, Flora Adora.
“With our Curious Idols, we want to help the public rewild their curiosity and start to embrace the importance of inquisitiveness within everything they do.”
The top 20 signs of a curious thinker
- Asking lots of questions
- Studying in your spare time
- Learning new skills voluntarily
- Asking ‘why’ until you’re happy with the answer
- Seeking inspiration from nature and/or the outdoors
- Unconventional thinking
- Living unconventionally or ‘unusually’
- Expressing yourself easily
- Reading fiction
- Reading non-fiction
- Watching documentaries
- Being interested in travelling
- A love of problem solving
- Looking at all sides of a story
- Working in a creative job
- Generally being creative
- Being interested in hearing what others think and staying open to different points of view
- Listening to podcasts
- Being keen to learn
- Being interested in the past
The 30 most curious thinkers then and now
- David Attenborough – broadcaster, writer and naturalist
- Brian Cox – physicist and musician
- Louis Theroux – documentary film maker
- Charles Darwin – English naturalist, theory of evolution
- Ben Fogle – broadcaster, writer and adventurer
- Richard Branson – business magnate, investor and entrepreneur
- Jon Snow – journalist and tv presenter
- Banksy – anonymous graffiti artist
- Brian May – musician and astrophysicist
- Terry Pratchett – satirist and fantasy novel author
- Grayson Perry – artist
- John Lennon – one of The Beatles
- Danny Boyle – director and producer
- Salman Rushdie – novelist
- Damien Hirst – artist
- Stella McCartney – fashion designer and animal rights campaigner
- David Hockney – artist
- Christopher Nolan – film maker
- Steven Bartlett – entrepreneur
- Tracey Emin – artist
- Neil Gaiman – writer
- Richard Ayoade – actor and comedian
- Joe Lycett – comedian and tv presenter
- Ian McEwan – novelist and screenwriter
- Noel Fielding – actor, comedian and tv presenter
- Sacha Baron Cohen – actor, comedian and producer
- Zadie Smith – novelist and essayist
- Yoko Ono – artist and wife of John Lennon
- Elton John – singer, composer and pianist
- Dolly Alderton – journalist, author and podcaster