Sensation Seeking

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					Sensation Seeking
The search for the perfect high.

Sky diving
• Friend wanted to do something unique for her 50th birthday. • Her kids suggested skydiving. • Tandem dive. • Great experience even with a broken ankle.

Roller coasters
• Some folks love them. • Go on coasters in the dark. • Loosen seatbelts. • Travel around the country. • Exciting and pleasurable. • For others, it’s a near death experience.

Extreme Sports
• • • • • Thrill seekers. Natural highs. Action gamblers. Speed freaks. What do they have in common? • Rewarding pathways in the brain.

Hang gliding
• Sport most likely to result in death. • Thrill seeking appears irrational. • Take unreasonable risks. • Trigger fight or flight response. • Adrenalin surge. • Stress reaction. • Why take the risk?

Thrill seekers report
• • • • • • Psychological high. Sense of mastery. Have developed skills. Know how to use gear. Coping skills. Able to handle situation.

Bridge jumping

Developing skill
• • • • First timers report intense fear. With practice, fear disappears. Psychological high remains. Self-satisfaction associated with highly developed coping skill. • Learn how to control fear.

• Belief in your abilities. • Mobilize your energy. • Physical and psychological resources. • Know the appropriate action to take. • Emergency responders. • Handle the fear.

Outcome efficacy
• Belief that you will experience satisfaction from reaching goal. • Mastery in the past. • Sense of accomplishment. • Worth taking the risk. • Joy of success.

People who avoid risks.
• • • • Not because they experience fear. Not close enough to experience fear. Haven’t even approached the threat. In reality, fear they won’t be able to cope with the situation. • Expectation of fear and failure.

Fear of public speaking
• Work of Bandura. • Greatest source of threat is our inability to deal with nagging doubts about our performance. • Should I take public speaking course? • Will I freeze? • What will people think? • Never sign up.

Negative thoughts
• Negative thoughts are powerful un-motivating force. • Negative thoughts create anxiety. • Anxiety makes us apprehensive. • Avoid situation.

Antidote for negative thoughts.
• Self-efficacy best prevention against negative thoughts. • Mastery in risky situations. • Rope courses. • Bob Marsh: “push the envelope of comfort.”

Rope courses
• • • • • Safe way to develop mastery. Overcome fears. Develop trust in community. Improve self-image. Used extensively in drug rehab with adolescents. • Team building for many different groups.

Marvin Zuckerman
• Sensation seekers. • Some people need a higher level of stimulation to maintain mood. • Simulation falls  mood slumps. • Push to keep stimulation levels as high as possible.

Sensory deprivation
• Zuckerman was grad student in these studies. • Interested in subjects who hated deprivation. • Couldn’t tolerate low levels of stimulation. • Wanted new experiences.

Sensation Seeking Scale
• Developed new scale: SSS. • Zuckerman on sensation seeking: • “a trait defined by the need for varied, novel and complex sensations and experiences. • And the willingness to take physical and social risks for the sake of such experiences.”

SSS components
• 1) Thrill and adventure seeking. (action gamblers). • 2) Seek experiences outside the conventional lifestyle (travel, friends, art). • 3) Disinhibition: release of inhibitions, escape the pressures of daily life. (escape gamblers). • 4) Low tolerance for boredom, repetition and sameness.

SSS predictor of addiction
• Sensation seeking as personality trait. • Correlated with alcoholism. • Gambling. • Perhaps common in all addictions.

Male-limited alcoholism
• • • • • • Males particularly susceptible Male limited. More severe, early onset. Many negative consequences. Trouble with law, at school, on job. Environment plays less of a role but can lessen the severity.

Brain response to novelty
• Brain waves to novel stimuli. • P3 waves. • Less reaction in alcoholics. • Need more stimulation?

Psychological characteristics
• • • • • • • • Related to biology? Reward seeking. Impulsive. Easily bored. Risk takers Gregarious Push the limits Act out

Brain chemistry differences
• Naturally higher levels of some mood chemicals. • Brain in high gear. • In order to feel high, have to push the brain beyond normal level of activity. • Greater sensation to get reward. • Potential for addiction.

Important for prevention
• Gambling as example. • Primary: before start gambling. Prevent early exposure. • Secondary: intervene in early stages. Provide alternatives. • Tertiary: treatment. Understand the role of sensation seeking to avoid switching addictions.