Thrill-seeking personalities can help Olympic athletes win gold

O ne of the primary draws of the Winter Olympics is the chance to witness a few of the most interesting and nail-biting athletic tasks.

The bold occasions consist of the bobsled and downhill snowboarding. Then there’s the frightening skeleton: Imagine barreling down a narrow chute of twisted ice-coated concrete at 125 miles per hour. Now think of doing that head initially, like a human damaging ram.

Competitors train for several years for the Olympics, however the majority of these elite athletes have something that assists them be successful throughout these high-stakes occasions: their character.

Some individuals have a personality type that assists them focus in extremely disorderly environments like the ones you’ll see throughout the WinterOlympics It’s called a high sensation-seeking character, and it’s a quality that, as a psychologist, I have actually long been amazed with.

Calm in the face of risk

To some degree, all of us yearn for complex and brand-new experiences– that is, all of us look for brand-new experiences.

Whether it’s our tourist attraction to the current glossy gadget or the latest style pattern, novelty pulls at us. But although all of us share an interest in brand-new experiences, what sets high sensation-seeking personalities apart is that they yearn for these unique and extreme experiences to a level that they want to risk their health.

What’s incredible is that some high sensation-seeking people experience less stress and are brave and calm in the face ofdanger For example, 2014 Olympic slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin take apart mountains at speeds of 80 miles per hour. But she just recently told Sky Magazine that the experience can seem like it unfolds in sluggish movement while she’s “finding a way to control the controllable.”

There’s neurological evidence to support the sense of calm that athletes like Shiffrin feel in the middle of mayhem and risk.

You might have become aware of cortisol— it’s the “fight or flight” hormonal agent, and it can make us feel stressed out and overloaded.

However, when individuals with high sensation-seeking personalities have extreme experiences, they do not produce that much cortisol. On top of that, they produce greater levels of “pleasure” chemicals like dopamine.

What’s more, researchers have found that individuals with high sensation-seeking personalities have actually increased level of sensitivity to things that might be fulfilling (like landing a perfect switch backside 1620) and reduced level of sensitivity to prospective risks (like the fear of wiping out after doing a triple jump).

High sensation-seeking isn’t really unique to Winter Olympians, obviously. It can sneak into every element of life, affecting the method you communicate with other individuals, the important things you provide for enjoyable, the music you like, the way you drive, as well as the jokes you tell.

Leaping prior to you look

In the 1950 s, while studying sensory deprivation, psychologist Robert Zuckerman came across this sensation-seeking quality. Zuckerman was ultimately able to reveal that sensation-seeking is comprised of 4 unique parts.

Each adds to a person’s special method of looking for (or preventing) feeling. (And you can in fact take a test to see where you succumb to each of these 4 parts on the sensation-seeking scale.)

The initially 2– thrill-seeking and experience-seeking– were pointed out previously. But the sensation-seeking characteristic likewise includes disinhibition and monotony vulnerability.

Disinhibition involves our desire to be spontaneous and our capability to let loose. People with low levels of disinhibition constantly look prior to they jump. Those high in disinhibition? They simply leap.

Boredom vulnerability comes down to your capability to endure the lack of external stimuli. Those with high ratings in monotony vulnerability dislike repeating: They tire quickly of foreseeable or dull individuals, and they get uneasy when required to carry out ordinary jobs.

This last part may be the hardest thing for Olympic athletes who are likewise high-sensation hunters to handle. In order to be an effective Olympian, you have to invest numerous hours practicing dull, repetitive workouts and drills.

But it’s simple to see how all these elements of sensation-seeking personalities may exist in Olympic athletes, whether it’s a snowboarder try out a bold brand-new technique or a hockey forward browsing a puck through a labyrinth of protectors.

People with high sensation-seeking personalities do not simply yearn for these scenarios. In those minutes, they remain in their aspect. Where a low sensation-seeking individual may collapse, they prosper.

So when you’re seeing the Winter Olympics and questioning how the athletes can manage the pressures and risks of competitors, simply keep in mind: For a few of them, mayhem and strength are ace in the holes of success.

KennethCarter is a Charles Howard Professor of Psychology at Oxford College and EmoryUniversity This post was initially included on The Conversation.