People classified as “novelty-seekers” or “high-sensation seekers,” are more likely to use drugs and gamble than their personality opposites, “low-sensation seekers.”1 Novelty-seekers have physiologically different brains than cautious people, says Dr. Carl Schwartz of Harvard. Thrill-seeking, such as bungee jumping, may be a way to activate the reward system to overcome a lower base-line of natural stimulation from a sluggish Limbic “reward” system, he says.2
Thrill-seekers also have correspondingly higher electrical responses in their brains as visual or acoustic stimuli increase, whereas low-sensation seekers show less brain activity as the intensity of the stimulus increases. This too may be because high-sensation seekers have a lower base line of brain arousal and need persistent stimulation to compensate.3
1. Bored With Sex, Drugs and Rock (Climbing)? Try ‘Flow,’ New York Times, June 3, 2003.
2. What’s the Lure of the Edge? It’s All In Their Heads, New York Times, June 20, 2005.
3. Bored With Sex, Drugs and Rock (Climbing)? Try ‘Flow,’ New York Times, June 3, 2003.