1. Mar, 2016

Are divers sensation seekers?

Sensation seeking  is a personality trait of individuals that tend to seek high levels of stimulation in their daily lives. The term was invented by Marvin Zuckerman*, now Professor Emeritus of the University of Delaware. According to Zuckerman a sensation seeker needs that extra stimulation to bring the activity  level of his brain to an optimal level. Zuckerman also invented a test, or rather an inventory called the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS). The scale consists of  four relatively independent  subscales  or traits, which means that you can score high on one trait and low(er) on  another*

Here they are:

-Thrill- and adventure seeking: Desire for outdoor activities involving unusual sensations and risks, such as skydiving, scuba diving, and flying.

-Experience-seeking: Referring to new sensory or mental experiences through unconventional choices, also including psychedelic experience, social nonconformity and desire to associate with unconventional people.

-Disinhibition: Preference of "out of control" activities such as wild parties, drinking and sexual variety

-Boredom susceptibility: intolerance of repetition or boring people, and restlessness in such conditions.

Notice these are the extremes of the scale, but the trait itself is distributed normally in the population, meaning that most people will show average scores, and much less people  low (SSS-)  or high (SSS+) scores.  But some examples of the  high sensation seekers  will make it  clear what this test is about. High sensation seekers  like adventures, risky sports, travelling, unconventional  activities, wild parties, varied and  novel stimuli and speeding. And they are ready to take physical, social, legal, and financial risks for the sake of such experiences. Males score higher on the SSS than females, divorced  men higher than married or single men, younger people (in particular adolescents) higher than older people. A SSS+ person is not necessarily extravert. He or she may be even be shy or dislike being in crowds or going to parties. But still feel the need  for novel and  interesting experiences or unconventional sports.  Such a person  may even consider to join the green berets or to become  a brain surgeon.

Are divers and  UW photographers sensation seekers? Not per se although their hobby does seem to fit  in the thrill- and adventure seeking profile. Free divers that take more risks and seek the 'thrill''  of going very deep,  fit even better. But to be sure if you are a true  SSS++ person.  better take the (full) test! http://www.hsperson.com/pages/HSStest.pdf


*Zuckerman, Marvin, et al. "Development of a sensation-seeking scale." Journal of consulting psychology 28.6 (1964): 477.

Zuckerman, M. (1996). The Psychobiological Model for Impulsive Unsocialized Sensation Seeking: A Comparative Approach. Neuropsychobiology, 34, 125-129

Zuckerman, Marvin; Eysenck, Sybil B. & Eysenck, H. J. (1978). "Sensation seeking in England and America: Cross-cultural, age, and sex comparison". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 46 (1): 139–149


 *Test yourself (this ''quick and dirty'' test gives only a rough measure of your SSS)

1. I would really enjoy skydiving.

2. I can imagine myself driving a sports car in a race and loving it.

3. My life is very secure and comfortable - the way I like it.

4. I usually like emotionally expressive or artistic people, even if they are sort of wild.

5. I like the idea of seeing many of the same warm, supportive faces in my everyday life.

6. I like doing adventurous things and would enjoy being an explorer.

7. A good photograph should express peacefulness creatively.

8. One of the most important things in living is fully experiencing all emotions.

9. I like to be very comfortable when I go on a trip or vacation.

10. Doing the same things each day bores me.

11. I like nothing better than relaxing by a pool when I am on holiday.

12. I would like to try several types of drugs as long as they don't harm me permanently.

13. Drinking and partying really appeal to me in my spare time.

14. Rational people try to avoid dangerous situations.

Scoring: Give yourself 1 point for answering 'True' to items 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 13. Also give yourself 1 point for answering 'False' to items 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 14. Add up your points and compare yourself to the following norms: 11 - 14, High Sensation Seeker; 6 - 10, Moderate Sensation Seeker; 1 - 5, Low Sensation Seeker.