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. Self-efficacy • 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.