Most prior research characterizes information-seeking behaviors as serving utilitarian purposes, such as whether the obtained information can help solve practical problems. However, information-seeking behaviors are sensitive to different contexts (i.e., threat vs. curiosity), despite having equivalent utility. Furthermore, these search behaviors can be modulated by individuals' life history and personality traits. Yet the emphasis on utilitarian utility has precluded the development of a unified model, which explains when and how individuals actively seek information. To account for this variability and flexibility, we propose a unified information-seeking framework that examines information-seeking through the lens of motivation. This unified model accounts for integration across individuals' internal goal states and the salient features of the environment to influence information-seeking behavior. We propose that information-seeking is determined by motivation for information, invigorated either by instrumental utility or hedonic utility, wherein one's personal or environmental context moderates this relationship. Furthermore, we speculate that the final common denominator in guiding information-seeking is the engagement of different neuromodulatory circuits centered on dopaminergic and noradrenergic tone. Our framework provides a unified framework for information-seeking behaviors and generates several testable predictions for future studies.

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