Ever wondered why some people are drawn to risky activities, even if they aren't getting any external reward for participating? The reason for this is that these people are high sensation seekers.
Sensation Seeking is a common trait we all possess and we tend to range from very high to very low on this trait. High sensation seekers are individuals who seek novel, complex and intense sensations. They participate in various risky activities, just to experience excitement and sensory pleasure.
Immediate gratification is a primary motive for sensation seeking, which is why people tend to ignore risk and dangers associated with such behaviours. Example, rash driving, drug use and crimes associated with this behavior. These individuals seek high stimulus activities and have a higher tolerance to negative events in their life
Risk taking is important for our individual growth since, it pushes us out of our comfort zone. This helps to build one's self control and
self-confidence. Some degree of risk is important to put things in perspective and help in our growth.
On the other hand, low sensation seekers avoid excitement and risky behaviours. Most of us fall in the middle of this category, with a moderate need to seek out new experiences.
Marvin Zuckerman proposed the term sensation seeking. He developed a scale used to measure how much stimulation an individual requires. Since everybody differs in their degree of sensation seeking, he divided it in 4 components.
Thrill and Adventure Seeking - these individuals tend to participate in high stimulus activities such as mountain climbing, sky diving etc.
Disinhibition - these individuals participate in activities such as drug and alcohol use, unsafe sex etc. Adolescents participate more in such activities compared to adults.
Experience Seeking - these individuals participate in less risky activities such as traveling, art, music and use of psychedelics.
Boredom - these individuals are easily bored and constantly seeking out new stimuli such meeting new people,watching new movies, travelling.
Zuckerman focused his research mainly on the evolutionary and biological bases of sensation seeking. According to him, differences in the level of sensation seeking is caused by the differences in our biological nervous system. Those who are low in sensation seeking are known to have low level of nervous system activation, therefore seek arousal by engaging in different activities in their external environment. On the other hand, the level of internal activation is naturally higher for moderate sensation seekers. Sensation seeking may have also been influenced by our evolutionary processes because our ancestors used to engage in certain risky behaviours to ensure better reproduction and survival.