Adventure-seeker study reveals insights into personality traits

Patrick Boudreau studied 39 research articles by other international researchers into experienced skydivers and other high-risk adventure sport participants. Photo: Getty Images
Patrick Boudreau studied 39 research articles by other international researchers into experienced skydivers and other high-risk adventure sport participants. Photo: Getty Images
Skydivers are much more than simply "sensation-seekers'', and are also more emotionally stable and no crazier than other people, new research shows.

They may, however, be slightly more impulsive.

University of Otago tourism department PhD candidate Patrick Boudreau recently undertook what he termed the first meta-analysis to investigate the relationships between personality traits and high-risk sport participation.

"Why would skydivers jump out of a perfectly working plane?

"Surely, they must be crazy or emotionally unstable?''

Canadian-born, Mr Boudreau recently posed these questions about his research.

He studied 39 research articles by other international researchers into experienced skydivers and other high-risk adventure sport participants.

 Researcher Patrick Boudreau reflects on extreme adventure tourism. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Researcher Patrick Boudreau reflects on extreme adventure tourism. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

The research, conducted with overseas colleagues, and titled "Personality traits of high-risk sport participants: A meta-analysis'', has just been published by the Journal of Research in Personality.

The study analysed research undertaken since the 1970s, including the personality traits over more than 3000 adventure sport participants.

"People who participate in adventure activities like skydiving are sometimes described as 'adrenaline junkies' or reckless.''

But risks were "not the main goal of adventure activities'' and motivations to rock-climb or white-water kayak were ''much more diverse'', he said.

"Reasons may include: enjoying mastering the activity and feeling competent, developing strong social bonds, entering a meditative-like state called 'flow', and even finding deeper meaning akin to spirituality,'' he said.

Queenstown had been dubbed "the adventure capital of the world'' and there were many opportunities "to explore Otago's ocean, rivers, mountains, and skies in adventurous ways''.

New Zealand Tourism had said that a third of international tourists wanted to participate in "some sort of extreme adventure'' in New Zealand.

Given continued growth in extreme adventure tourism, it was fitting more research had been done on such tourists' complex motivations and needs. Knowing some were more impulsive than average could also allow "adventure guides to be more aware of risks and focus more time on making activities like white-water kayaking or skydiving safer,'' he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

 

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