Sensation seeking is a name given to how much people are willing to seek out new experiences, including taking risks. This came out of the work of Dr. Marvin Zuckerman. High sensation seekers look for new experiences, even if they risk social, emotional or physical harm through these new experiences. You’ll find pathological risk-takers here, the kind that’ll go sky diving, climb a cliff and jump off it to do a very high dive into the sea, all in the same day. Conversely, there are low sensation-seekers, which is the kind of person who might watch the same movie over again, or listen to the same music over and over again.
As with many things, most people would probably fall in between this broad range. I believe I am a medium sensation seeker. I can’t really watch the same movie again even if I saw it years ago, but I don’t quite take enough risks that I know intellectually are totally ok, but can’t bring myself to take them emotionally. The possible benefit of a new experience does not yet outweigh the emotional risks, but that’s ok. I’m sort of in the in-between space: I can’t go back to just watching tv and being happy with it, but I’m not quite where I want to be to be able to take lots of chance and really achieve some big goals.
I believe you can change your level of sensation seeking, too. I think (and this might be inaccurate), that I used to be a lower sensation seeker than I am now. For myself, my level of sensation seeking explains one curious behaviour: if I go through an extended period of time when I’m not doing something new or exciting, I start messing with things that are working, just so I have a different experience. For example, I might start messing with my sleep schedule, which I generally leave well enough alone. I know, intellectually, that my sleep schedule is super important, but I still mess with it.
This might also help explain another curious phenomenon: I tend to manufacture my own intellectual challenges, and this is perhaps because I’m not finding enough challenges outside of myself. So, I’ll hold back just enough information from myself to make things interesting, and to make me really search for the truth.
Note: I enjoy all forms of comments, including compliments and criticisms. I invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments section. 🙂