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Sensation Seeking Kristen Cushman.

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1 Sensation Seeking Kristen Cushman

2 Overview Sensation seeking
Description & Measurement Relation to other personality characteristics Big 5 & Eysenck’s PEN Occupations, habits, hobbies related to SS Factors that affect SS Problems with measures of SS scales

3 Sensation Seeking Definition coined by Zuckerman
Multifaceted personality trait Seeking varied, novel, complex & intense sensations/experiences Willing to take physical, social, legal & financial risks for sake of such experience Marvin Zuckerman; University of Delaware Individual differences in terms of preference for sensory stimulation High sensation seekers have a tendency to seek out and engage in novel & varied experiences, even if those experiences involve significant risk. Examples of such experiences that should satisfy the needs of a high sensation seeker? (pathological gambling, alcohol/drug abuse, involvement in high-risk sports, risky sexual behaviors)

4 Measuring Sensation Seeking
Self-report questionnaires Urgency, Premeditation, Perseverance, & Sensation Seeking (UPPS) Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) Eysenck Impulsiveness Scale (EIS) Behavioral Constraint factor of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire UPPS: An impulsive behavior scale developed by Whiteside & Lynam has a subscale that measure sensation seeking (revised version: 12 of 59 items assess SS)

5 Measuring Sensation Seeking
Self-report questionnaires Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scales (SSS) 14 different forms Many language translations SSS-V Four subscales Thrill & Adventure Seeking (TAS) Experience Seeking (ES) Disinhibition (DIS) Boredom Susceptibility (BS) Zuckerman’s SSS’s are most popular operationalization of this construct. SSS-V: most popular; Four 10-item subscales This scale has been validated with data from self and/or peer rating of behavior & lab measures theoretically associated with the behavior. Concerns have been raised, however, (which we’ll cover in more detail) and it has been pointed out that researchers should continue to assess the facture structure & reliability of items Anyone have an opinion on which might be the most important in a job setting? My guess would be the BS subscale, depending on the nature of the job; perhaps DIS/ES bc if your employee is always out drinking/partying, he/she may be work or late a lot Must be widely accepted & it’s great that there are a lot of variations, especially for studying the construct cross-culturally (As Dr. Miller has pointed out in previous classes, understanding that there are culture differences is important for certain areas of psychology (such as a diverse work place and Ph.D programs/areas of research). Even though the scale is widely accepted/used by many, it has been criticized, which is a topic we will discuss.

6 Measuring Sensation Seeking
Self-report questionnaires Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire Sociability Neuroticism-Anxiety Impulsive Sensation Seeking Aggression Hostility Activity ZKPQ: 5 subscales; 99 items Link from syllabus

7 Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire
I like to have new and exciting experiences and sensations even if they are a little frightening I like doing things just for the thrill of it I enjoy getting into new situations where you can’t predict how things will turn out I would like to take off on a trip with no preplanned or definite routes or timetables I tend to begin a new job without much advance planning on how I will do it Should think of the construct as a continuum. In what range of a particular SSS do our behaviors tend to fall? Should get us thinking about how scores on these types of scales might be important in job, clinical & research settings (& also in our everyday lives)

8 Sensation Seeking Model
Genetic Biological Social Psychophysiological Behaviors Attitudes Preferences Explanation for sensation seeking is based on model influenced by genetic, biological, psychophysiological, & social factors, which influence certain behaviors attitudes & preferences

9 Sensation Seeking Behaviors
Behaviors that elicit increased amounts of stimulation Pursuing stimulating jobs, using drugs, driving recklessly Involve seeking out arousal Associated risk Risk taking, however, is not primary motive in behavior Sensation seekers accept risk as a possible outcome of obtaining high levels of arousal, but do not seek out risk for its own sake.

10 Behavior, Activities & Attitudes
Occupational choice Recreation Lifestyle choices Sports Social Interactions Sensation seeking preference is associated with preference for certain behaviors, attitudes & activities, which include …. There has been much research on the relationship between these aspects and sensation seeking, and we’ll also talk about the biological correlates associated with sensation seeking.

11 Relation to Big 5 Negative correlations Positive correlations
SSS-V & Openness to Experience (r = .45) of NEO-PI-R Overall & each subscale (especially ES) Negative correlations SSS-V Disinhibition & Agreeableness (r = -.40) SSS-V Boredom Susceptibility & Agreeableness (r = -.048) Positive: Intuitively, makes a lot of sense Negative: considered to have a lack of restraint, you’re less agreeable? (rigid; disregard for rules?) Very susceptible to boredom, you’re less agreeable? (seems backward?)

12 Relation to Eysenck’s PEN
Psychoticism scale of EPQ relates to experience-seeking scores of SSS-V Extraversion scale of EPQ relates to Thrill & Adventure Seeking scores of SSS-V Sensation seeking traits are also associated with personality features from Eysenck’s personality dimensions of extraversion, psychoticism, & neuroticism

13 ‘Bad’ & ‘Good’ Sensation Seeking
Impulsive, unsocalized sensation seeking (ImpUSS) Disinhibition, Experience Seeking & Boredom Susceptibility of SSS-V & Psychoticism of EPQ Those high on these scales tend to be nonconforming, nonconventional & lack planning skills Less sensitivity to risk Non-impulsive, socialized sensation seeking Thrill & Adventure Seeking of SSS-V Relating to the idea that all personality traits should be considered in terms of a continuum, Zuckerman has defined different forms of sensation seeking Distinguishing between the two are important in many areas of psychology; important for job market; don’t want to hire people who are going to be more likely to engage in risky behaviors that will affect their work ethic. On the other hand, however, I’m sure many employers would favor non-impulsive, socialized sensation seeking. These type of people would be good employees if they’re willing to take some risks for the sake of the company, such as taking a risk with a new product that could cost millions if it should fail but would be worth the same amount if it survives. Employers may want some employees who will take such risks & do their best to see that the risk turns out favorably

14 Stimulating Occupational Choices
Jobs that are adventurous & non-conventional Serve as source of arousal Sensation seeking and Strong Vocational Interest Blank High SS correlates with jobs involving Novel situations Stimulating surroundings Unstructured tasks Flexibility

15 Stimulating Occupational Choices
Gender differences High SS males: scientific or social service careers Psychologist Psychiatrist Social worker Females: negative relationship between SS scores & traditional occupations (housewife, teacher) Gender is a variable related to sensation seeking, and males tend to score higher than females on the SSS-V overall, thrill & adventure seeking & disinhibition scales (US). However, males & females show similar scores on experience seeking subscale. Another interesting statistic is the result that divorced males score higher on sensation seeking overall & all subscales than married or single males

16 Stimulating Occupational Choices
High Thrill & Adventure Seeking & Dishibition scores Firefighters Mountain & mine rescue squads Race car drivers Mountain climbers Parachutists Research suggests that people in these types of occupations prefer stimulation that’s more external or derived from the environment w/ a moderate degree of risk

17 Stimulating Occupational Choices
New sensations & experience, less risk Journalist, movie double, surgeon Elevated scores on SSS-V overall, Thrill & Adventure Seeking & Boredom susceptibility High schoolers with high TAS scores rated jobs with risk as more desirable Aircraft pilot, policeman, army officer Results from such occupational studies demonstrate that sensation seekers have an interest in or choose certain careers, which is based on their preference for stimulation

18 Habits Related to Sensation Seeking
High sensation seeking related to Fighting Drug use Drunk driving Seatbelt usage It has also been found that high sensation seekers ignore speed limits and traffic rules & take more risks that lead to near-accidents and/or crashes resulting in personal & other driver injuries. So not only are risky behaviors sometimes dangerous to the individual, but they can also put other ppl in danger (other’s who are not out to experience the same type of risks & experiences)

19 Habits Related to Sensation Seeking
Lack of external stimulation Boredom with surroundings May lead to substance abuse Sensation seeking and alcohol usage High scores on Disinhibition & Experience Seeking related to alcohol abuse Relationship between behavioral disinhibition, preference for sensation seeking & drinking habits When external stimulation is absent, many high SS’ers become bored with their surrounds, and their preference for varied environmental stimulation is associated with proneness to boredom. A lack of activity or unstimulating environments often leads to substance abuse. This has been shown to be especially true for adolescents exhibiting high sensation seeking scores on the SSS-V

20 Habits Related to Sensation Seeking
Peer sensation seeking and individual drug usage Mutual attraction to various experiences Risky sexual situations High sensation seekers have more sexual partners, permissive sexual attitudes & are less likely to use protection Peer sensation seeking preferences predict individual drug usage. Also, high sensation seekers tend to surround themselves with others who have the same preferences. This makes sense bc most ppl want to be around others who are most like themselves; want to be around ppl who engage in the same type of behaviors as you

21 Hobbies: Sports & Recreation
Sensation seekers & socially acceptable means Listening to arousing music Volunteering for experiments Traveling Enjoying unusual or unpleasant art forms Rock climbing Scuba diving Hang gliding Sensation seekers can achieve an adequate level of arousal through socially acceptable means. As we might expect, ppl who score high on the Thrill & Adventure Seeking scale enjoy non-risky recreational activities that are stimulating

22 Biology of Sensation Seeking
Interactions between neurotransmitter systems Dopamine systems Reward-driven learning, pleasure/euphoria Serotonergic systems Mood, memory, sleep, cognition Gonadal hormones Sexual maturation

23 Biology of Sensation Seeking
Rat models Exploratory behavior: novelty seeking High responders (HR): high locomotor reactivity More self-administration of amphetamines than low responders Increased levels of catecholamine after stressor Major neural systems affected by amphetamine are largely implicated in the brain’s reward circuitry After exposure to a physical stressor, HR rats have been shown to have heightened levels of catecholamine in the dopaminergic system. Also, compared to LR rats, HR rats have been shown to have higher dopaminergic activity in reward brain areas, which suggests that corticosterone has reinforcing properties for HR rats & may have influence on the dopamine pathways of the brain

24 Biology of Sensation Seeking
Research with human participants Relationship between Disinhibition & Experience Seeking scores of SSS-V and dopamine/serotonergic systems High SS: lower cortisol responses High SS: high stress resistance, higher threshold of sensitivity to aversive stimulation, lower hypersensitivity & lower irritability

25 Biology of Sensation Seeking
Association between gonadal hormones & scores on SSS Males: Disinhibition scores related to androgen & estrogen levels Females: Disinhibition scores related to follicular & luteal estrogens These findings support idea that gonadal hormones are related to certain sensation seeking scales

26 Reliability of SSS-V (Deditius-Island & Caruso, 2002)
Reliability generalization study Analysis of typical reliability scores & factors associated with variability Subscale with lowest reliability: Boredom Susceptibility Mean of .62 & Median of .61 Inadequate for all applications by any criterion Reliability generalization: meta-analytic technique designed to assess the reliability of scores generated by a specific measure -involves an analysis of typical reliability of scores & factors that are associated w/ variability in score reliability

27 Reliability of SSS-V (Deditius-Island & Caruso, 2002)
Older Ps tend to demonstrate scores with higher reliability for ES, BS & overall Scores for SSS-V scales are less reliable than would be desired Many studies have omitted reliability coefficients for score means Age ranges aren’t clear in analysis; we don’t know what kind of ‘older’ they’re talking about. Older adulthood compared to middle? Middle compared to adolescents? Possible explanations for this? Older people know themselves better than younger people?

28 Reliability of SSS-V (Deditius-Island & Caruso, 2002)
Improvements are needed Researchers seem to just assume that scores will be reliable because that is what has been indicated in previous samples (reliability induction problem)

29 Important Implications
Reduce negative health consequences Provide non-risky options that still provide adequate levels of arousal Intervention programs This area of research is important in many different ways. In order to reduce negative health consequences for young adults, it’s important to be able to identify risky behaviors, attitudes and preferences and there can be programs implemented to replace such activities with non-risky options that can provide adequate levels of arousal. Future studies should focus on developing programs to substitute risky or unhealthy behaviors with equally arousing options.

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