In this episode, Dr. Bennett discusses the exuberant and sometimes dangerous psychology of thrill seeking, a personality trait also known as risk taking and sensation seeking.
Take this test to see if you are high or low on this personality dimension. For each item, you must choose A or B, depending on which best describes you.
1a. I would like a job that requires a lot of traveling.
1b. I would prefer a job in one location.
2a. I am invigorated by a brisk, cold day.
2b. I can’t wait to go inside on a cold day.
3a. I get bored seeing the same old faces.
3b. I like the comfortable familiarity of everyday friends.
4a. I would prefer living in an ideal society in which everyone is safe secure, & happy.
4b. I would have preferred living in the unsettled days of our history.
5a. I sometimes like to do things that are a little bit frightening.
5b. A sensible person avoids activities that are dangerous.
6a. I would not like to be hypnotized.
6b. I would like to have the experience of being hypnotized.
7a. The most important goal in life is to live it to the fullest and experience as much as possible.
7b. The most important goal in life is to find peace and happiness.
8a. I would like to try parachute-jumping.
8b. I would not like to try jumping out of an airplane, with or without a parachute.
9a. I enter cold water gradually, giving myself time to get used to it.
9b. I like to dive or jump right into the ocean or a cold pool.
10a. When I go on vacation, I prefer the comfort of a good room and bed.
10b. When I go on vacation, I prefer the change of camping out.
11a. I prefer people who are emotionally expressive even if they are a bit unstable.
11b. I prefer people who are calm and even tempered.
12a. A good painting should shock or jolt the senses.
12b. A good painting should give one a feeling of peace and security.
13a. People who ride motorcycles must have some kind of unconscious need to hurt themselves.
13b. I would like to drive or ride a motorcycle.
Give yourself 1 point for each of these that you have circled: 1a, 2a, 3a, 4b, 5a, 6b, 7a, 8a, 9b, 10b, 11a, 12a, 13b
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You are listening to Kevin Bennett is snarling. On December 31st, 1967 Intrepid Daredevil Evel, Knievel, attempted to jump his motorcycle Over The Fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Nevada Caesars Palace. Jump remains one of the most iconic moments in Knievel's career and it is often cited as one of the most memorable moments in the history of extreme sports. However, during the jump, he lost control of the motorcycle in midair and landed hard on the pavement. Skidding for several feet before coming to a stop, Knievel, suffered multiple fractures and a concussion as a result of the crash. The crash was caught on film and broadcast on ABC's Wide World of Sports which helped to make an evil, a household name. Despite his injury is Knievel continue to perform stunts and jumps throughout his career off and wearing a white leather jumpsuit with a blue. V-shaped stripe that became his signature look Knievel's love of adrenaline and his willingness to take risks. Made him a legend in the world of extreme sports. He was a Trailblazer who inspired countless others to pursue their own passion for adventure and excitement. Despite the many injuries, he suffered over the course of his career, Knievel, never lost his love of the thrill of the ride. Was Evel. Knievel, a thrill-seeker. Yes, Evel. Knievel was definitely a thrill seeker. He was a sensation-seeker and a risk-taker. It was known for performing dangerous and daring stunts on his motorcycle sometimes risking his life in the process. And evil was always looking for the next big Challenge and he would frequently push the limits of what was physically and mentally possible. On this episode, we will explore the exciting and sometimes scary world of thrill-seekers. Kevin finnerty. Snarling, begins now How's it goes, Owen. Here's a quote from Evel, Knievel, Daredevil, and risk-taker bones. Heal chicks dig scars pain is temporary, glory is forever course Evel. Knievel is one of the world's most well-known sensation-seekers, also known as a risk-taker, also known as a thrill-seeker. And that is the topic of today's episode. Pete Murphy from Galveston, Texas. Emailed me a few weeks ago and wanted to know. If I would talk a little bit about the personality trait of thrill-seeking. So, Pete from Galveston, this is for you. I have in front of me, a personality questionnaire that Describe sensation-seeking. So this is a 13 item, forced-choice format questionnaire. And that means you are forced to make a choice, A, or B for each of these items that I'm about to read and I'll read through them quickly. If you'd like, to check out the scoring key or just look at the questions on your own, I'll put these documents up on the podcast website, but you must choose a or b for each one. And there are times when you will think that both applied you equally or both equally do not apply to you or you're having a hard time deciding ARB ARB. That's why it's called a forced choice format because you must make a choice. Otherwise people would pick the middle, if they could read it between a or b, or they pick both every single time. Are they taking either one? But you're not given that option here. That's just how this personality test works. So, these are 13 items and you can either score very very low on sensation-seeking. Very, very high or As most people score somewhere in the middle. Number one, I would like a job that requires a lot of traveling or B. I would prefer a job in one location. Number to, I am invigorated by a Brisk cold day. Be, I cannot wait to go inside on a cold day. Number 3, I get bored seeing the same old faces. B, I like the comfortable familiarity of everyday friends number for a, I would prefer living in an ideal society in which everyone is safe secure and happy or be. I would have preferred living in the unsettled Days of our history. Number five a I sometimes like to do things that are a little bit frightening, be a sensible person. Avoids activities that are dangerous. Number 6 a I would not like to be hypnotized be. I would like to have the experience of being hypnotized. Number 7, a the most important goal in life is to live it to the fullest and experience as much as possible. Or be the most important goal in life, is to find, peace and happiness. Number 8, a I would like to try parachute-jumping be. I would not like to try jumping out of an airplane with or without a parachute. Every 9 a.m. I enter, cold water gradually, giving myself time to get used to it or B. I like to dive or jump right into the ocean or a cold pool. Number 10, a, when I go on vacation, I prefer the comfort of a good room and bed or be. When I go on vacation, I prefer the change of camping out. 11a. I prefer people who are emotionally expressive even if they are a bit unstable, be I prefer people who are calm and even-tempered 12a. The good painting should shock or jolt the census. Be a good painting, should give one a feeling of peace and security. 13, a people who ride motorcycles must have some kind of unconscious need to hurt themselves or be. I would like to drive or ride a motorcycle. So now you've taken the 13 item personality test end and you may have some sense of whether you, are you high, sensation-seeker, aloe sensation-seeker, if you go to the website and actually work through the scoring key, you'll come up with a score for yourself. That is somewhere between a 0 and a 13 because you give yourself one point for each of the items on the scoring key and you give yourself zero points for the other answer options, for example, for number one, if you endorse a for number 2, if you Circle, they for number 3, if you Circle A, those are all trending toward sensation-seeking. So, for example, number one, a was, I would like a job that requires a lot of traveling versus staying in one location. That's more adventurous, that involve some type of risk on it might even be thrilling in some ways. I never to a I am invigorated by a Brisk cold day. Verses to be, I can't wait to go inside on a cold day. So there's the thrill-seeking part with answer option. A and A number 3, a, I get bored seeing the same old faces. That's what a thrill seeker. Sensation-seeker agrees with a versus B. I like the comfortable familiarity of everyday friends. Of course, most of us whether we're high or low on sensation-seeking. We like seeing every day friends and there is something comfortable. And it pleasing about that. That's why I called a forced choice format because you have to decide between a or b. And that's a good example of that. So what do we know about sensation-seekers? I'd like to talk about some of the things that sensation Seekers are likely to do compared to love sensation Seekers. For example, jumping out of airplanes. So if you have a parachute attached to your back and you may have another person with you, like somebody who knows what they're doing. Or you may have your own license and you can go solo and either case, that is something that not everybody is prepared to do not everybody is excited to think about doing that Swimming with Sharks is another one or any dangerous animal into the water. If you're swimming in waters where you know, sharks are and you don't have a cage or any sort of protective equipment, that's a can be a dangerous thing. So that's pretty exciting. That's what a thrill seeker, a sensation-seeker likes. And of course we talked about Evel Knievel already. When I was younger, I had an Evil, Knievel, toy and you would be wood, wind it up, you can pull it back and then the wheel would prepare to spring forward. So you pull it back and get him already. And I would set up these ramps with my friends and all these jumps. And we would let the Evel Knievel toy go flying across the driveway or in the in the kitchen. It was cold outside but that's as close as I Come to being a and Evel. Knievel type character know, my own score on this sensation-seeking test is somewhere in the middle along with most other people. So, if you scored between a 0 and a 3, you're considered very low on sensation-seeking. If you score 12 or 13, that's considered very high and if you're somewhere between 4 and 11, you're in the average zone. So that includes the water called Low scores. And then average scores and high scores. And on the extremes you have the very low in the very high and that's where the really interesting personalities. Studies come from looking at very low vs. Very high On any tray, whether it's this Trader or any other traits, it's interesting to look at those extremes. Although, that doesn't always paint the most realistic picture of what's happening with that human behavior. That personality trait few, just looking at the most extreme cases. And those are usually the rarest cases. So you don't have that many people that you interact with on an everyday basis. That score very low or very high on just about any personality trait, we're interacting with people that are that are in that average range from 4 to 11 on. On this, in this case, on this questionnaire Boom, boom. Boom. Boom. He has a laser pointer in one hand and a double shot of espresso in the other. This can only mean one thing. You are listening to Kevin Bennett. So, here are some things that we know about sensation-seeking. Men are generally higher than women on this test. And if we take a thousand men thousand women and we measure everyone on sensation-seeking, there will be considerable overlap between men and women. But on average in a thousand men thousand women, male scores tend to be higher and we know that sensation-seeking declines with age. So, there is a correlation with age across both men and women, but we know that older people are less likely to be thrill-seekers are risk-takers or sensation Seekers on. This probably reason why they got to be that age. And younger individuals tend to be higher on sensation-seeking and the the highest General category if you were to profile, this would be Young males that are around age 18, that's your, that's your demographic, profile of a sensation-seeker. And these are the people that are doing things, like riding motorcycles and jumping things and, and jumping out of airplanes and engaging and pretty extreme sports. So, let's look at some of the things that high sensation Seekers due and low sensation. Seekers, are are significantly less likely to do we know that high SS so sensation-seeking correlates with Daydreams. So High Risk, Takers are sensation Seekers are more likely to have Daydreams. So, when they're supposed to be paying attention in class or doing a good job at work and and being engaged and things at work, they tend to be daydreaming, so their mind drifts easily. Are there more likely to use drugs? That includes all sorts of mind-altering substances whether it's legal, or illegal drugs, alcohol pills, anything that will alter your state of mine are more likely to engage in that they're more likely to gamble and then includes all forms of gambling. So it's casino gambling Sports gambling, doing things online. Doing things with friends, just making bats going to other places where you can, you can make Wagers, like the horse track, the race track, other more likely to play Risky's Sports. So if you think about all the sports and leisure activities that we can engage in summer, are pretty dangerous. And we know that just from looking at the numbers of individuals who participated in those Sports, in the percentage that end up going to the hospital for this or that. So, smart, surfing is smurfing, surfing is a fairly dangerous sport. Is playing golf which is a pretty safe Sport and of course golfing in the rain while his lightning is dangerous but I'm assuming you're not doing that. But if you're just out surfing, it can be pretty dangerous. If you're playing rugby, if you're playing football, if you're playing a boxing, any sore sport martial arts, where there's a lot of contact aggressive contact, then you run the risk of getting injured so that's a risky sport. Boo boo. Boo, boo. Are you an over analyzer looking for a show that speaks to you? Do you wonder why you often wonder about so many things that others find in significant? Do you get frustrated when you evaluate your own life? And can't decide if you should move forward, stay put or cling to the Past for a few minutes. Every week. This is the perfect home for you, where we talked about what it means to belong and not long. You are listening to Kevin Bennett is snarling. They are more likely to show a preference for spicy and crunchy Foods. So foods that have a particular flavor and a particular texture. Risk-takers are thrill-seekers. They, they actually enjoy having that in their mouth. So something like a really, really spicy hot wings. Like, I love chicken wings and I like hot wings, like traditional Buffalo actually get mild buffalo because anything that's like hot or super hot. My eyes just water. And I don't even enjoy the taste of it anymore. So I like something in the middle slightly spicy, but not too spicy. I know there's a lot of people like me but there's also a lot of people that really, really like Atomic hot wings and the kind of Chili Peppers, that just make your eyes water just from just from smelling them almost. That's a, that's a preference for sensation-seekers and then really crunchy food. So something that could hurt your teeth if you bite into it wrong, that's something sensation-seekers. Don't mind. What would be an ideal food for a low sensation-seeker? That might be something like mashed potatoes with very little seasoning or gravy something that's. It's not spicy and it's certainly not crunchy. It's just kind of there in your mouth but for a lot of us that's actually comfort food. So what might be boring to another person is actually very comforting to others High sensation Seekers are more likely to have sex partners. I should say more sex partners are more likely to try. Different and more sexual positions and they're more likely to engage in sex without using any sort of protection. So if you just focus on that last one, it becomes a public health issue and trying to identify who's more likely to have unprotected sex while it's high. Sensation Seekers. So if you get two people together, that are Thrill, Seekers and risk-takers, at least one of them and perhaps, both will be friendly or agreeable to the idea of not using protection, and they will just go along with that because it's, it's more exciting to them. So, this is a group of individuals that from a public health standpoint you have to worry about more than if you had to low sensation Seekers together who are enjoying a wonderful sexual life and a long-term romantic relationship or partnership and they're using protection. So, was in the group of high sensation, Seekers, they have more sexual partners and they try more sexual positions. And So within one relationship that might work, like one partner is saying to the other, let's try this roll over this way, put your leg like that and so on and so forth. And if you have two people that are willing participants in that, then you have a very active sexually active couple and the low sensation Seekers, will do things like just consistently have sex in the same way with the same sort of routine sexual positions. So it's not surprisingly, not surprising that a high sensation-seeker. Would, it would try where Joy variation in in all those things? And then in the dating world, there's some research looking at Tinder, the dating app. And that among females, females, especially there's a large difference in sensation-seeking in Tinder users. So turns out that males across the spectrum of sensation-seeking. There's not much variation and who's using Tinder, and other words, they're all trying to use Tinder. But just looking at females because the risks that go along with with tender and some of the things that might go wrong in a dating app, the risks are generally speaking greater for females, there's more variation in sensation-seeking, and that high sensation Seekers are much more likely to get an account on Tinder and then be more active users of Tinder and low. Sensation Seekers tend to shy away from it or they're not, you know, seeking out these accounts and not seeking out the whole experience on the app. Hi sensation-seekers. Also prefer more elaborate a symmetrical designs when it comes to artwork and just design in general versus low sensation, Seekers who prefer prefer simple more symmetrical designs. So what kind of art does a high sensation-seeker, prefer, they like things that are really abstract with splashes of color and you cannot tell exactly what it is. It's a jolt to the census. Knows one of the questions on this 39mm question are. So if you go into a museum, you know what kind of artwork are you looking for high sensation? Seekers find symmetrical, really concrete paintings to be quite boring. So if you look at a painting and you can tell what it is, and if I asked 100 people what they see, their, I get 100 answers that are all the same. That's going to be boring for a sensation-seeker. So if you look at a Landscape seen, you know, you see a lake and up and up in trees and some clouds in the sky. And that's what everyone sees. Risk-takers don't really like that. They prefer someone like Jackson Pollock, where you might just have splashes of white, and black, and red and a little bit of yellow. And I asked you, what you see? And, and you say I see my mother-in-law and I asked somebody else where they see and they say, I see a boat and it's about to go over a waterfall and I asked somebody else and they say I just I see the emotion of envy and so on and so on. So you get all these different responses. That's what I sensation-seekers like, And so that is related to their consumer. The consumer choices that they make when it comes to museum. So high sensation, Seekers are more likely to go to Modern Art Museum and low sensation Seekers prefer. Things like history and the ancient art museums things were it's it's more concrete. What what you're looking at? All right, and then High sensation Seekers are more likely to send angry emails and texts than basically any form of communication. You know, we've all been in that situation where we feel frustrated, you know, we're getting mad. We're getting upset at something, you know, we're so mad that we're going to send them a text and angry text Ian. We've all been there and in some of us actually type out the text of the email, and then we take a deep breath. And we have a second thought, and we say, me know what I shouldn't send this, I should maybe hold back on sending this until you stopped yourself. All right, those are the low sensation-seekers, the high sensation Seekers say, darn it. I'm going to send this. So send it. Who cares, right? They deserve it. I'm mad and somebody needs to hear about it. Alright, then couple other things that sensation Seekers do, the more likely to listen to more aggressive music that's loud and just more intense and this cuts across different musical genres as well. It's not just you know, heavy metal is sensation-seekers, listen to all sorts of music, just like anyone else but they prefer harder and more intense versions of that type of music. And finally, they are more likely to view a given situation as being less risky than do low sensation-seekers. So as they perceive the world around them, as they they process the social and physical environments that are in front of them, they just see them as being less risky. And so there's there's less anxiety. There are more likely to be Daredevils and try things that others wouldn't try because they just don't see it as risky. So for example, you go to the edge of a building, you walk to the edge of the building and there's no railing there which I do recommend. Just terrifies me thinking about it, but a high sensation-seeker would do that and they would not perceive it as very risky. They see it, as all this is, this is fun. This is exciting. Of course, I don't want to fall off the edge but I'm not worried. I don't think I will fall off the edge. Where is a neurotic individual? Who's really a low sensation-seeker? Just the thought of of going to the edge is terrifying and just listening to me talk about it is enough to say and I please stop. I don't want to hear any more. To all the chronic overanalyze this out there, the feeling is real, everything is dangerous, tomorrow is scary and you don't belong here. Now, what don't get mad get untangled in this super chill audio experience, we will show you how stories of chaos and change are best understood through the lens of psychological. Belonging each episode focuses on a gripping aspect of danger, deception, and desire and reveals the power. These forces have to shape Who We Are For Better or Worse. You are listening to Kevin Bennett, this snarling. You know, I just realized that when I was talking about landscape paintings I sounded a little bit like Bob Ross and I said there's a lake there and then the mountain that cloud and a happy little tree. And I remember a few days ago seeing this chart that Illustrated the paintings of Bob Ross. Somebody did some sort of analysis were they looked it what he included in his paintings in something like 90% of the time. He included at least one tree. So basically in every painting, he did he included a tree and in 85% of his paintings, he had at least two trees. So there aren't that many paintings that have just one tree. Most of his paintings have two trees and I think it broke it down by the types of trees, deciduous trees and coniferous trees and then how many clouds? What percentage of his paintings had clouds and was something like 40 or 50% of his paintings. And how many had mountains and it was somewhere around that same percentage. So I was reminded of of Bob Ross and some of the wonderful paintings that that he's done. I love watching and paint love watching a show but I think when it comes to our tight end to land on the side of the sensation Seekers on that one, where I like the kind of painting that it may not be exactly clear what it is and it could it's kind of a jolt to your senses and Barbara Ross used to say. So from all of us here, I'd like to wish you a happy painting and God bless my friend, and I love that. And he was a, I think it was a master sergeant in the Air Force and he was stationed in Alaska and he would look out his window and he longed for the days when he could just paint. And so he started painting when he was in the Air Force, I believe and he promised himself that when he was done with his duty in the air force that he would never raise his voice again, because that's what he spent. His days doing was just yelling at the Masters. So he bound himself to never yell again and that's why he he became known to the rest of us. As its person on TV painting things and is very soft little boys or it's a happy little trees and his show is on for, you know, 15 years and it's still in reruns and of course you can check it out on YouTube. So that's enough. Talking about Bob, Ross. Here is a quote from somebody who spent some time in a sensory deprivation tank, they described it like this immersed into a world of darkness and no sound. All I could hear was my own breathing and heartbeat. A sensory deprivation tank also known as a float tank or an isolation tank is basically a big box that has some water and you close the door when you get inside and it's completely dark. A lot of people get undressed before they go into fully enjoy the experience but you don't have to but you open up the door. It's the it's like a big pot. It's like the size of a like a tanning bed and you find them in play like big cities. Have these the salons you can go to for float tanks or isolation tanks and you you pay by the minute. So you can get 15 minutes or half an hour or whatever. But some people use it for meditation or relaxation or just that kind of recharge. But basically it's this this big box that you open up. There's a door doesn't lock. So you won't get trapped inside or anything like that. But you take off all your clothes. Get inside you close the door, it's pitch-black and you're sitting in a door 12 in of a saline solution like a saltwater solution and in lukewarm water. So the water is not hot. The water is not cold and your kind of floating. So short of being in outer space this is as close as we can get to weightlessness. And the idea with a sensory deprivation tank is that you are minimizing all of your senses. You know, we cannot eliminate our senses like that voluntarily, but we can the best we can do is minimize them. So you really can't see anything, you can't smell anything. You can't taste anything or not supposed to bring a hamburger in there and eat it while you sitting in there. And the only sound you hear is your own breathing and your own thoughts and if you splash the water a little bit, you would hear that. But if you remain remaining perfectly still, I'm perfectly calm. Your brain is effectively just kind of spinning because it doesn't know what to do. It's it's used to processing incoming information information that comes in through our five sensory systems and when you take that away, what what do you do? How does which hange is with yourself or you just like a, a brain that's kind of floating in outer space. That's not really connected to anything and that's how people have described these sensory, deprivation tank experiences. But my question for you is who would prefer that more, would it be a low sensation-seeker, or a high sensation-seeker? So, think about that. And we'll come back to that, that answer, I was in 125 years ago, I spent like 30 minutes in one because where was living at a? It was a new isolation, tank, Salon or spa and Inn. Giving out free coupons. So people would come in and check out their new experience. So I said sure and I took the coupon and I showed up and this is all new to me. I really didn't know what to expect. Once I got inside. I did feel a little, not claustrophobic, but I felt like, oh, I'm I'm kind of in this dark space and I'm not crazy about it. I'm not really happy. So it took me a few minutes. So I was feeling a little anxious but then when I did calm down and just kind of talked myself out of it or talk myself through it, I found it to be, you found it to be pretty relaxing. Not so much that I would spend money and keep going back, but I could see why some people would do that or some people purchase them for their their homes, if they have room and they have, you know, $7,000 to spend on one of these things. Hey let me just throw out a movie recommendation while we're talking about thrill-seekers and risk-takers there's a climbing movie that came out a few years ago and it's Tori. Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen. And these are two climbers who spent time in Yosemite in other places doing these insane clients. And this is the documentary that really focuses on Tommy Caldwell on in his experiences and and the struggles and the challenges that he's dealt with and adversity, and grit and determination and all those wonderful things and it's really inspirational. And it's just that a cool look at the life of these two guys that are that are climbing and what they have to do day in and day out, and it's pretty scary to if you're if you're scared of heights and spending time on the side of a mountain like they do, It's called the dawn wall Dawn, and that name comes from the fact that the sunlight hits the part of the wall there climbing, first thing in the morning at the very top and that's the dawn wall, check it out to answer. The question who is more likely to prefer sensory deprivation tanks? Is that high or low sensation-seekers? The answer is high, sensation Seekers. These are the Risk Takers and the thrill-seekers and just the very fact that you're in a situation where you do not have access to the outside world, your brain cannot smell anything. There's nothing to smell. There's nothing to see. There's nothing to touch to taste. At least you are minimizing all those things. The fact that you're in that situation is a completely novel. And unusual a very unique situation that most people do not get to experience in their lifetime. So for that reason, it is a thrill seeker or a sensation-seeker that enjoys sensory deprivation tanks. If you're extremely low on sensation-seeking are there's a good chance that you will start to panic then you'll feel anxiety because suddenly the rug pulled out from under you and you not processing any external sensory information. This is kind of a terrifying situation to be in. This is definitely the domain of high sensation, Seekers, This podcast was recorded and edited by Kevin Bennett in the beautiful. Foothills of Western Pennsylvania executive producer and a Donia artwork by carbon Barnett. You can find Kevin on Twitter at Kevin Bennett PhD for email Facebook and other contact info head over to Kevin Bennett. Calm, that's Kevin Bennett with a dash in between If you are interested in more stories about psychology science and pop culture, check out my riding over at Psychology today just type Kevin Bennett Psychology today and your favorite search engine. As always, thank you for listening and please remember to be good. I said, be good. See you next time.