Are You a Thrill-Seeker?

The trick to enjoying a scary moment is knowing you are not facing a real threat.

Thrill-seekers are people who enjoy thrills and do well in stressful situations. They also have a sensation-seeking personality trait [a characteristic]. Psychologists can now administer a test and find out who has this trait.

In the 1970s, an American psychologist developed the idea of a sensation-seeking trait. Dr. Martin Zuckerman identified four components of this trait, which are:

  • need for an external stimuli [something that causes a reaction]
  • willingness to be spontaneous
  • desire to experience new things
  • drive to participate in risky and exciting activities

Thrill-seekers develop a sensation-seeking personality trait as early as age three. This trait becomes stronger and peaks in the late teenage years.

Today, psychologists can administer a test to determine if someone enjoys scary and unpredictable experiences. People that score high on the test tend to enjoy jumping off cliffs, watching scary movies, and attending haunted houses. They also perform well in high-risk jobs, such as working in an emergency room or with special forces. Sensation-seekers even enjoy trying new foods!

But personality traits are also determined by personal experiences. Sometimes a scary experience can happen when we are too young. This experience might lead to a phobia [an unreasonable fear of something that is unlikely to cause harm]. Some examples of phobias include being scared of spiders, heights, and needles. Studies have shown that we can retrain the brain to overcome these fears by repeated exposure to nonharmful scary stimuli.

So the next time you brave a haunted house or watch a scary movie, keep in mind that you are in a safe place and what you are seeing is not a real threat. This may help you turn your fear into excitement!

What Do You Think? What are some ways that people could conquer their fears?

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