Sensation-Seeking Am I Supposed to Be Impressed?

Making sense of extreme sports, bar fights, and other idiotic habits

Posted July 23, 2009

 “Well, Mom, in simply one week he got in his initially fist fight, bought a motor cycle, and also went sky diving… let’s watch how next week goes.” 

-KC, referring to her brother’s behavior automatically in the week following his 18th birthday.

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Recently, one of us (AG) broke his clavicle after speeding down a 30 ft., 75° incline on his hill bike, in initiatives to clear a 4 ft. deep x 4 ft. wide creek bed in the visibility of the various other (KC), that was none also thrilled with the initiative, even sans injury.

While tbelow is no magical minute at which adolescents automatically interact in reckmuch less abandon, we feel these anecdotes serve to show the epitome of what evolutionary psychologists Margo Wilson and Martin Daly have referred to as, “Young Male Syndrome.” This is a term used to define the propensity of males, ripened 16 to 24 years, to interact in perilous risk-taking activities, discounting safety, great judgment, and the future. During these years (and also in at least one situation - ahem - for years after), men feel “invincible” and take on the “it won’t take place to me” mantra, driving their more reasonable and wiser elders to flourish gray hair, wag their fingers, and taunt, “I hope you don’t learn the difficult way.” 

While it’s true that the incidence of females’ riskies actions boosts also during adolescence, the slope is steeper for males, and also this comprehensive sex distinction persists into adulthood. Moreover, the conmessages in which males and woguys communicate in dare evil one antics differ. Evolutionary psychologists identify that a slew of determinants (consisting of emotions, goals, and personality) influence the likelihood that an individual will connect in risky decision making, yet current interemainder has moved towards studying the function of risky behaviors to illuminate conmessages in which they can occur. 

The discussion is this: Throughout humale background, males have had actually to contend through other men over accessibility to mates more than women have had actually to complete through other women. Given basic asymmetries in reproductive biology (women bring babies and also males don’t), womales are choosier when choosing a mate. Therefore, the number of offspring that guys can produce is even more variant than the number that woguys have the right to create. That is, ancestral males can lose significant with the females and create no offspring, or they might win huge, in fitness terms, and also produce many kind of offspring through a number of different partners. Because males confronted the possibility of being shut out of the mating game, males competent more powerful selection pressures to take dangers once contending for mates. To threat it all and also win outcomes in the ultimate fitness payoff (i.e., reabundant success), and for this reason, as the paradox goes, risks deserve to come through extensive prices. Because of this, it has been said that the reason males connect in such riskies, also idiotic, behaviors is because of the prestige of interacting to others that they are a competitive, qualified mate. The hypothesis, then, is that males’ risk-taking conduct have to be situation-certain. That is, males have to purposecompletely engage in precarious ventures generally in social cases, especially once cues to potential mating avenues are existing, such as your fiancée standing next to the creek you are (unbeknownst to her) around to jump.

 Evolutionary psychologists Michael Baker and also Jon Maner at Florida State College case that males’ risk-taking (a potentially costly signal) is indeed sensitive to context. Last year, they publimelted a document in the journal, Evolution and also Human being Behavior, describing research demonstrating that when a male is motivated to go after romantic/sexual interests (after viewing attrenergetic female faces), he is more likely to ask for a “hit” on an unparticular hand also (16) when playing Blackjack. This result was not observed in female participants or in guys that regarded unattrenergetic female faces. Due to the fact that of concerns connected via self-reports of catalyst, Baker and also Maner also examined men’s memory for the encounters, an indicator of heightened handling. Consistent through the self-reports, guys who remembered more of the attrenergetic female deals with involved in more risky actions.

Perhaps it is no surpclimb that boys are frequently urged by girls to do “dumb” points. After all, it is to the chagrin of many the weary parent who asks, “Was it over a girl?” once their adolescent ashamedly appears with a bloody nose or black eye. If we accept that what these risky actions are communicating is virility and also social supremacy, the following question is, to whom are these actions being communicated? As Baker and Maner allude out, it might be that viewing attrenergetic female encounters motivated males to react as if tright here were a congregation of attrenergetic females whom they must impress. This suggests that males’ risk-taking actions is a signal to females. While womales uncover virility and social dominance attractive, some are often repulsed by the risk-taking behavior in and also of itself (KC was). An different interpretation, then, for Baker and also Maner’s findings is that men’s display screens of risk-taking are directed at various other men: Presenting men with a slew of attractive deals with may cue them that “tright here are woguys to be had” and also so it’s time to contend via various other cads. In other words, it might be that the availcapacity of attractive potential mates primes a virile male to take threats, however these behaviors may actually serve to interact to other males, “Hey, I’m not scared, don’t F via me,” creating shelp male as higher up on the supremacy hierarchy, which would certainly have granted him greater accessibility to females. Therefore, males may not interact in risk-taking because females like risky company, per se, however bereason said habits are a method to an end…a female’s end (“Gasp! How crass!”).

See more: If I Could Go Back In Time Quotes To Refresh Your Memories, Top 25 Go Back In Time Quotes (Of 67)

Baker and Maner addressed this concern further in a paper currently in push at the Journal of Experipsychological Social Psychology. In this study, participants were asked to interact via a companion who, for half of participants, was depicted as romantically accessible, while for the various other half was shown to be unavailable (married or engaged). The FSU undergraduates were then asked to pump up 15 virtual balloons, gaining points for each pump, but losing points if the balloon exploded. Males that thought that their habits was more likely to be perceived by the attractive, single female via which they had actually communicated reported a greater interemainder in seeking sexual/romantic relationships and involved in even more riskies “pumping” habits (resulting in even more popped balloons) than participants in the other conditions. Baker and also Maner analyze their repertoire of findings as indicative that men’s hazard taking is context certain, motivated by sex-related conquest and also the presence of accessible female observers rather than a basic orientation toward thrill-seeking. Although it was not the visibility of spectators, per se, however rather the attention of an easily accessible female that affected males’ risk-seeking, it is not clear just how the presence of a male might have affected male participants’ risky behavior (this condition was not included). So risk-taking may be a signal to females, but this examine doesn’t preeminence out the opportunity that other males aren’t also the intfinished audience. 

We even more speculate that the degree to which females explicitly favor a male after watching him interact in riskies acts varies with the riskiness of the act itself. Womales desire a irreversible mate who deserve to be an stable asset to herself and her youngsters. To put it bluntly, he’s no good to her dead or dismembered and could actually become a burden if he need to depend on her for care as an outcome of his antics, or if he puts herself or her youngsters at hazard or in ditension in the process. Because of this, in these conmessages, woguys seeking long-term mates could see this actions as unstable, aversive, also unattractive, leading her to avoid these males, and therefore rendering no gains (sex-related or otherwise) for a male who engeras in such activity in her presence. The risk-taking behaviors measured in these research studies (through Blackjack and balloon inflation) were reasonably mild in terms of potential costs - world are unlikely to obtain hurt or die if they lose at Blackjack or burst a balloon (in truth, it is fairly plausible that participants were consciously conscious they were not involved in gambling while playing pseudo-Blackjack on a university campus) - and so it’s hard to draw inferences from these measures of non-injurious risk-absorbing a method that generalizes to real-civilization behaviors.

We execute not blame the researchers for this, of course, bereason it would be unethical to put young men in situations wright here they can engage in drag-racing, ultimate fighting, or (ahem) hill biking. But researchers have actually examined life-threatening risk-taking habits as soon as they occur normally, external of the lab. In a current research publimelted in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, evolutionary anthropologists from Poland also and also the UK surreptitiously watched men and womales cross a busy road. If you’ve been paying attention therefore much, then you already recognize that men were even more most likely to cross when it was more dangerous to do so, and males were more most likely to “play Frogger” in the visibility of womales than in the existence of various other men.

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Another observation comes from meteorological statistics. Men account for 84% of lightning fatalities and also 82% of injuries as a result of lightning strikes. While males could spfinish slightly even more time outdoors than women, this statistic suggests that, during lightning storms, woguys are smart enough to head inside while guys risk it.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that cheerleaders are a staple of the more aggressive and also life-threatening sports (e.g., football) than the less risky sports (e.g., baseball): 


Do woguys really appreciate

risk-takers?! Risk-takers! 

Goooo Risk-takers?!"



About the Author

Kayla Causey is a doctoral candiday studying developpsychological psychology at Florida Atlantic University, and Aaron Goetz is an evolutionary psychologist at California State College,