One of the main draws of the Winter Olympics is the opportunity to witness some of the most exciting and nail-biting athletic feats.
The daring events include the bobsled and downhill skiing. Then there’s the terrifying skeleton: Imagine barreling down a narrow chute of twisted ice-coated concrete at 125 miles per hour. Now imagine doing that head first, like a human battering ram.
Competitors train for years for the Olympics, but most of these elite athletes possess something that helps them succeed during these high-stakes events: their personality.
Some people have a personality trait that helps them focus in highly chaotic environments like the ones you’ll see during the Winter Olympics. It’s called a high sensation-seeking personality, and it’s a trait that, as a psychologist, I’ve long been fascinated with.
Calm in the face of danger
To some extent, we all crave complex and new experiences—that is, we all seek new sensations.
Whether it’s our attraction to the latest shiny gadget or the newest fashion trend, novelty tugs at us. But even though we all share an interest in new sensations, what sets high sensation-seeking personalities apart is that they crave these exotic and intense experiences to an extent that they’re willing to risk their health.