Frisky, But More Risky
Many people are driven to do things that excite them, no matter how risky or terrifying those activities might seem to others. If you heard about a chance to ski down a steep backcountry slope, would you jump on that opportunity? Does wandering through an unknown city where you don’t speak the language sound fun? Do you get restless or bored doing the same thing day after day?
Then you may score highly on measures of a personality trait that psychologists call “sensation-seeking.”
“It’s an overall behavior tendency to really seek out rewarding experiences despite the risk involved,” Jane Joseph,
Everyone falls somewhere on the sensation-seeking spectrum, but some people are more likely to ignore risks and instead seek rewards than others, to the point they may seem attracted to risk.
There are four subcategories to sensation seeking:
- 1. Experience seeking (wanting new sensory or mental experiences),
- 2. Thrill and adventure seeking,
- 3. Susceptibility to boredom,
- 4. And disinhibition (enjoying things like “wild parties”).
Not all sensation-seeking activities are risky (and not everyone who takes risks does so because of this behavior trait).
Younger people are more likely to score highly on a sensation seeking-scale than older people. And men generally report higher levels of sensation-seeking than women.
We don’t know exactly how common sensation-seeking is, but research says it’s pretty easy to find people with high levels of this trait on college campuses.
Importance of study this behavior because it’s one of the stronger predictors we have of drug and alcohol abuse.
That may be especially the case when sensation-seeking is combined with “negative urgency,” a trait that causes people to do impulsive things in response to negative sensations.
There are genetic components to sensation-seeking. Brain scans of people who score very highly on this trait tend to show reduced responses to some stimuli, which may explain why these individuals are driven to particularly intense activities.
Sensation-seekers tend to enjoy adventure travel and extreme sports.
They also tend to be less drawn to conventional religious belief. And they are more likely to volunteer for experiences like drug research, hypnosis, or sensory deprivation.
People with strong scores in this trait tend to choose jobs with flexibility, change, and risk, including jobs that place themselves in danger. Entrepreneurs tend to score highly on this behavior.
Sensation seeking has been suggested as a disease-prone personality because many of the behaviors associated with sensation seeking are potentially harmful to health whereas others concern social problems. For example, sensation seeking has been found predictive of reckless driving, sexual activity, adolescent delinquency, aggression, hostility, anger, personality disorders, criminal behavior, alcohol abuse, and illicit drug use. Not all studies, however, have found sensation seeking to be a strong predictor of such behaviors, likely because research also indicates that the environment and experiences play important roles in the expression of behaviors such as aggression.
I hope that one day; research might show ways to channel this personality trait in people at risk for substance abuse away from those risks and towards other rewarding activities.
Principal – Mrs. Archana Masih
Department of Nursing ( College of Nursing )
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital