curiosity gap
n. The difference between what a person knows and what that person wants to know.

Example Citations:
There is an amygdala-tickling genius here, but also a kind of movie-trailer mawkishness. What’s the “secret”? An entertaining slideshow of Upworthy’s headline-writing strategies last year repeatedly references the “curiosity gap.” The idea is both to share just enough that readers know what they’re clicking and to withhold just enough to compel the click.
—Derek Thompson, “Upworthy: I Thought This Website Was Crazy, but What Happened Next Changed Everything,” The Atlantic, November 14, 2013

In her experiment she discovered that shorter profiles are also better. “Women that you would want to be friends with had profiles of like 3,000 words, but to be good at online dating you should create a curiosity gap.”
—Ariel Bogle, “The Algorithm Knows What the Heart Wants: A Future Tense Event Recap,” Slate Magazine, February 21, 2014

Earliest Citation:
This piece won’t answer all your questions (like the residual effect on flora and fauna, which isn’t an archeological issue), but it manages to fill a bit of the curiosity gap that still exists in one corner of that intensely strange time.
—Christopher Harris, “Magazines,” The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 8, 1995

Notes:
In his monumental work The Principles of Psychology, William James explained “scientific curiosity” by positing that “the philosophic brain responds to an inconsistency or a gap in its knowledge, just as the musical brain responds to a discord in what it hears.” This was echoed by the psychologist George Lowenstein in his 1994 paper, “The Psychology of Curiosity,” where he coined the term information gap:

Like other types of gaps in attainments, an information gap can be defined by two quantities: what one knows and what one wants to know.
—George Lowenstein, “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation,“ Psychological Bulletin, July 1, 1994

Information gap is almost certainly the source of the phrase curiosity gap, but I should also point out the heading “View from City Road: The Tony Berry curiosity gap,” that appeared in the January 7, 1989 edition of The Independent. No mention is made of the curiosity gap in the article, so I can’t say whether this qualifies as the earliest citation.

Related Words:

Category: