Sensation seeking (A complete guide)

In this brief article, we will be talking about sensation-seeking, the sensation-seeking theory by Zuckerman, personality disorder with sensation-seeking traits, and more information about sensation-seeking.

What is the psychology of sensation-seeking?

The psychology of sensation-seeking is the trait of people who want to gain new experiences in their lives.

These people who have this kind of trait are more likely to seek new adventures and people. 

People with the sensation-seeking trait are those people who gain pleasure about dealing with new obstacles and being able to enjoy life at what it has to offer.

Scientists are finding the benefits of this trait in these people and how this kind of trait fits in people with personality disorders and other activities that people engage in. 

Some scientists are studying sensation-seeking to help keep it from becoming extreme which can lead to behaviours that can harm the person.

It was Zuckerman who founded this kind of trait and finds it as an advantage in a person’s evolution. 

This was a construct developed by Zuckerman from his own studies on perception.

This kind of trait has been referred to as an evolutionary advantage since some animal species also have this trait which may have helped their survival.

Side Note: I grew this blog to over 500,000 monthly pageviews and it now finances our charitable missions. If you are looking to start a blog as a source of income or to help your community then view our how to start a blog guide.

Traits of sensation-seeking

Sensation-seeking has been divided into 4 components of traits such as the following:

  • The thrill and adventure-seeking trait: The want for outdoor activities including uncommon sensations and risks like skydiving, high-speed driving, scuba diving and flying.
  • Experience-seeking: Related to novel sensory or psychological experiences by nontraditional options, also involving psychedelic experiences, social nonconformity and desire to connect to nontraditional people.
  • Disinhibition: The need for uncontrollable activities like wild parties, illegal activities, and drinking
  • Boredom susceptibility: non-accepting attitudes toward repetition or bland people, and sleeplessness in such circumstances.

In sensation seeking, one experiences flow because of the feelings of thrill and excitement it generates.

The most recent version of the Sensation-Seeking Scale came from the study of sensation-seeking which has been improving in its validity and reliability. This kind of scale has also been used for children.

You can learn more about the Sensation-Seeking Scale for adolescents by buying this book on this website.

Characteristics of sensation-seeking

Zuckerman’s studies have found that people with the sensation-seeking trait are more likely to engage in activities that increase their stimulation.

This kind of trait has also been found to be important in one’s life if the situation demands it. 

Sensation-seeking has been discovered to heighten in the adolescent years.

However, this kind of trait has been known to decrease in the late adolescent years. 

Although there is a negative correlation between age and sensation-seeking which makes this kind of trait to occur at any age.

Additionally, boredom seems to occur at every age which means we’re going to suffer through it unless we find ways that can bring us some activity again.

Gender differences have also been cited in regards to sensation-seeking where males are more likely to seek new stimulation than girls.

This can be seen in cases where most men are more likely to find new discoveries and new people. 

Studies in different countries have also found these gender differences related to sensation-seeking.

Additionally, divorced men were more likely to have this kind of trait than men who were settling down with a partner.

Many see a link between between self-efficacy and sensation seeking, because people who are self-efficient are also very likely to be the ones with this trait. Hence, to know if you are self-efficient or not, you can use the self-efficacy scales and see if there is a link between the both.

Behaviour

The behavioural manifestations of the sensation-seeking trait in the different sexes are the behaviours of speeding.

People with a high degree of this trait are more likely to get involved in overspeeding which leads to car accidents almost all the time.

Alcohol has also been associated with having a high degree of sensation-seeking.

Additionally, peer pressure and this trait can make the person more likely to engage in substance use and abuse. 

Studies have found that peer sensation-seeking can contribute to substance use and abuse.

If you are hanging out with people who have high degrees of this trait, you are more likely to engage in alcohol use and abuse.

People with high levels of sensation-seeking are also more likely to have sexually risky behaviours where they have more sexual partners and may give themselves sexual diseases.

These people are also having passive attitudes toward sex. 

After all, risky sexual behaviour is part of the disinhibition aspect of sensation-seeking.

People with higher levels of this trait are also more likely to cheat on their current partners.

People with high levels of sensation-seeking are more likely to prefer stimulating music like rock songs.

These people are also more likely to look at paintings that are destructive and violent such as a painting full of dead bodies that have gone through a war.

You can learn more about sensation-seeking behaviours by buying this book on this website.

Occupational choices

People with high levels of sensation-seeking are more likely to choose careers where they get to be exposed to new ideas and adventures such as being a scientist or an artist.

People with low levels of this trait are more likely to choose careers where structure and organization are more rampant.

Causes of sensation-seeking behaviours

As mentioned before, Zuckerman has been hinting that sensation-seeking is an advantage to one’s evolution.

After all, our ancestors were the only ones who can travel throughout the globe which entails dangers along the way. 

The ancestors who were more willing to take risks due to their sensation-seeking traits were more likely to be successful hunters that could be placed in some people’s genetic ancestry.

This kind of trait is available in various degrees in different people. 

This is accurate since most people tend to have a certain degree of personality traits.

People with the high levels of sensation-seeking are more likely to get some new explorations thanks to the genes that they got from their ancestors.

You can learn more about the evolutionary perspective of psychology by buying this book on this website.

Obtaining Reward and Impulse Control

Studies have focused on how people with high levels of sensation-seeking have brains that are different from normal levels.

This is where the researchers decided to investigate in the adolescent brain. 

Adolescence is where people usually experience significant changes in their brains.

Also, sensation-seeking makes the mind more susceptible to learning and growth.

Sensation-seeking is part of a healthy development since it helps us to be more curious and more exploratory.

However, this trait not being checked well in the adult years can lead to massive destruction in the person. 

This is when sensation-seeking becomes uncontrollable to the person.

It isn’t very clear why adolescents are more likely to show behaviours of this trait which was somewhat explained by different approaches. 

Reward systems are an explanation for people with sensation-seeking traits.

Having normal levels in this area of the brain can make you balance your sense of adventure and control. 

Researchers have found that sensation-seeking traits in people with psychological disorders are out of their control from this part of the brain.

For instance, people with bipolar disorder are less likely to control their mood which makes them more distressed.

Brain studies find the ventral striatum responsible for the sensation-seeking trait.

This part of the brain is responsible for one’s reward system and learning.

A study has shown that there is a link where this part of the brain was activated when sensation-seeking traits are activated.

This work has led to the intervention of minimizing the flow os some neurotransmitters that are responsible for reward. 

The researchers have been studying the use of the transcranial magnetic stimulation to help these people with sensation-seeking to control their risky behaviours.

Other studies have been implemented to find more pathways in the brain that are related to making risky decisions during childhood to adulthood. 

There were surprised that there aren’t specific pathways that link sensation-seeking in children and adults.

It seems the adolescent brain is more capable of having this trait invincible during these times. 

Researchers have recommended that studies should be focusing on the environmental influences that may account for sensation-seeking traits.

Dopamine Connection

Research on identical twins has found that sensation-seeking is more genetic than previously thought.

This trait can make people more likely to engage in stimulating activities and feel awarded after taking on that stimulating activity. 

Dopamine is the explanation of why people who have high levels of sensation-seeking will be more likely to engage in more stimulating behaviours than before.

This neurotransmitter can help us get pumping and explains why people with high levels of this trait are more likely to engage in substance abuse. 

People with high sensation-seeking have their dopamine running constantly which make them more likely to engage in stimulating activities.

They’re more likely to get bored and the only way to cure this boredom is to get engaged in a risky activity.

This is also accurate in the realm of sex.

People who have high levels of sensation-seeking are more likely to get bored of having the same partner for sex and would find another for stimulation. 

Zuckerman even elaborated that sensation-seeking is the antagonist of psychological stability.

You can keep your dopamine at healthy levels by buying this diet book on this website.

Feeling the Adrenaline Rush Without the Danger

Sensation-seeking is also associated with fear.

Fear can explain why there are differences on how people have high levels or low levels of this trait and how it works in the reward system.

Based on our genetic background or environmental influences, we are hardwired to be drawn to things we would prefer or avoid things that aren’t good for us.

This is the same with people who have high levels of sensation-seeking where they seem to have a lower threshold towards fear extinction. 

People with high levels of sensation-seeking are more capable of putting fear in a proper light such as being a challenge.

This is also an explanation of why horror movies are very famous. 

Zuckerman stated that people who have low levels of sensation-seeking would prefer these movies since they don’t place much fear for them since there is no real danger.

You can feel the feeling of adrenaline rush by buying this book here.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion 

In this brief article, we have talked about sensation-seeking, the sensation-seeking theory by Zuckerman, personality disorder with sensation-seeking traits, and more information about sensation-seeking.

If you have any questions about sensation-seeking, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: sensation seeking

Is it bad to be an adrenaline junkie?

No, it isn’t bad to be an adrenaline junkie.

This is because you don’t have to engage in risky activities just to get your adrenaline pumping.

You can get an adrenaline rush by interacting with new people and this is not considered a risky activity unless you are meeting them in a bar where murders have been popping up frequently. 

How do I give myself an adrenaline rush?

You can give yourself an adrenaline rush by talking to a stranger, run at full speed, interact with someone who can progress your business, take a cold shower, sing karaoke with all your heart, and surf or do some dancing lessons. 

What can we learn from sensation-seekers?

You can learn from sensation-seekers that there is such a thing as experiencing positive and exhilarating emotions in life.

All people who need and crave new experiences in work, in friends, and in fun have manifested that you can have fun while doing these kinds of wild activities.

These kinds of seekers cliff-dive, drive ambulances, run with the bulls, and chase tornadoes.

Why do I seek thrills?

You seek thrills because of the feeling of your hormone which is adrenaline.

Dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin may combine and interact with this hormone to make us feel pleasure for getting involved in thrills.

The more we get these kinds of hormones, the more we want the feel more.

To conclude, seeking out the thrilling challenges and obstacles that trigger these chemicals to come out and flow.

What makes a person a thrill-seeker?

A person is a thrill-seeker due to his or her type T personality and genes that are relevant to this kind of personality.

These are people who crave and need novelty, intensity, difference, and risk.

These kinds of people tend to be creative in reality who tend to follow their minds than be succumbed to other people’s beliefs.

Citations

Dana Foundation. Desperately Seeking Sensation.

Greater Good Magazine. What We Can Learn from Sensation Seekers.

Wikipedia. Sensation seeking.

Was this post helpful?