Episode 35: The Psychology of Extreme Sports

MichaelBiopsychology, Motivation, Personality8 Comments

Time for a little fun. I know you’ve asked yourself this question: why do people engage in those dangerous extreme sports like hang gliding, bungee jumping and rock climbing? Would you believe it might have something to do with neurotransmitters and something called Monoamine Oxidase? In this video episode we learn about Sensation Seekers. Along the way I discuss how SSRI‘s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) function in the synapse. Come along for the ride.


Resources On Extreme Sports

Media Resources for this Episode


8 Comments on “Episode 35: The Psychology of Extreme Sports”

  1. It was very interesting to learn that the reason some people love the thrill of bungee jumping or sky diving was due to a certain chemical balance in the brain. It makes me wonder if the reason people make certain decisions in life, enjoy certain music, or have have certain hobbies is due to the release or exchange of a molecule or molecules. Does this initially mean that people are only unique individuals due to what’s going on in the chemical states of their minds? I also found it insteresting that sensation seeking could mean just wanting to experiencing new things such as simply exploring a new city. This video gave alot of really helpful pointers on how the mind works and why certain people act the way they do.

  2. The arousal theory made a lot of sense to me that there were either higher or lower levels of sensation seekers. It also made sense that the people who score higher in sensation are the ones who smoke, drink, gamble, and overall take higher risks in today’s society. However, it did surprise me that a more “exciting lifestyle” was not just about thrill and adventure, but also, it was about experience, disinhibition, and boredom susceptibility. It was also surprising to find out that due to different levels of dopamine in our brain, humans have different levels of sensation. If someone has a lower level of dopamine, who has always lived a more relaxed lifestyle, and then gets divorced, why do they end up scoring higher on the sensation scale than those who are single or married? It must not all be biological.

  3. It’s definitely not all dopamine-related, but it is cool to think that some of our “personality” is influenced by brain chemicals. Sure helps to explain why some of us like to take risks (jump out of planes, etc.) and others wouldn’t dream of doing stuff like that.

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  7. Human beings are more than chemicals. In Russian human being means “tschelowek”, the one who has got eternity on his forehead. In Japanese “the spirit within”, in Chinese and Sanskrit, the one who thinks and feels, and in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, insan, root ons, anisa, friendship and community. I personally think that bunjee jumping has to do with our (every person’s) fear of death, of ageing, loneliness, pain and dying. Nowhere in our societies, especially in the Western world, can we come to terms with death: death is practically never mentioned. Thus I use jumping as an escape from death. True?

  8. Edwin,

    I think you make a good point. At the time I recorded this episode I wasn’t familiar with a theory in psychology called “Terror Management”, but it has to do with exactly what you’re talking about: how humans deal with our fear of death. I talked about terror management in this episode of the podcast. I can totally see how bunjee jumping would be related to (some people’s) fear and attempt to manage death. Great point.

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