The genetic architecture of sensation seeking was analyzed in 1591 adolescent twin pairs. Individual differences in sensation seeking were best explained by a simple additive genetic model. Between 48 and 63% of the total variance in sensation seeking subscales was attributable to genetic factors. There were no sex differences in the magnitude of the genetic and environmental effects. The different dimensions of sensation seeking were moderately correlated. The strongest correlations were between the subscales Thrill and Adventure Seeking and Experience Seeking (r=0.4) and between Boredom Susceptibility and Disinhibition (r=0.4 in males,r=0.5 in females). A triangular decomposition showed that the correlations between the sensation seeking subscales were induced mainly by correlated genetic factors and, to a smaller extent, by correlated unique environmental factors. The genetic and environmental correlation structures differed between males and females. For females, higher genetic correlations for Experience Seeking with Boredom Susceptibility and Disinhibition and higher correlations among the unique environmental factors were found. There was no evidence that sex-specific genes influenced sensation seeking behavior in males and females.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Boomsma, D. I., and Molenaar, P. C. M. (1986). Using LISREL to analyze genetic and environmental covariances structure.Behav. Genet. 19:5–7.
Boomsma, D. I., Kaptein, A., Kempen, H. J. M., Gevers-Leuven, J. A., and Princen, H. M. G. (1993). Lipoprotein (a): Relation to other risk factors and genetic heritability. Results from a Dutch parent-twin study.Atherosclerosis 99:23–33.
Boomsma, D. I., Koopmans, J. R., van Doornen, L. J. P., and Orlebeke, J. F. (1994). Genetic and social influences on starting to smoke: A study of Dutch adolescent twins and their parents.Addiction 89:219–226.
Eaves, L. J., Eysenck, H. J., and Martin, N. G. (1989).Genes, Culture and Personality: An Empirical Approach, Academic Press, London.
Eysenck, S., and Zuckerman, M. (1978). The relationship between sensation-seeking and Eysenck's dimensions of personality.Br. J. Psychol. 69:483–487.
Eysenck, H. J. (1983). A biometrical-genetical analysis of impulsive and sensation seeking behavior. In Zuckerman, M. (ed.),Biological Bases of Sensation Seeking, Impulsivity and Anxiety, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 1–36.
Feij, J. A., and van Zuilen, R. W. (1984).De spanningsbehoeftelijst (SBL), Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, The Netherlands.
Feij, J. A., van Zuilen, R. W., and Gazendam, A. (1982). The development of a Dutch sensation seeking questionnaire: de Spanningsbehoeftelijst.Gedrag-Tijdschrift Psychol. 10:364–383.
Fulker, D. W., Eysenck, S. B. G., and Zuckerman, M. (1980). A genetic and environmental analysis of sensation seeking.J. Res. Personal. 14:261–281.
Goldsmith, H. H. (1991). A zygosity questionnaire for young twins: A research note.Behav. Genet. 21:257–269.
Haapsalo, J. (1990). The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and Zuckerman's Sensation Seeking Scale (form V) in Finland: Age differences.Person. Individ. Diff. 11:503–508.
Jöreskog, K. G., and Sörbom, D. (1986).PRESLI: A Preprocessor for LISREL, National Educational Resources, Chicago.
Koopmans, J. R., van Doornen, L. J. P. and Boomsma, D. I. (1994). Smoking and sports participation. In Goldbourt, U., De Faire, U., and Berg, K. (eds.),Genetic Factors in Coronary Heart Disease, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994, pp. 217–235.
Loehlin, J. C. (1992).Genes and Environment in Personality Development. Individual Differences and Development Series, Vol. 2. Sage, Newbury Park.
Loehlin, J. C. (1993). What has behavior genetics told us about the nature of personality? In Bouchard, T. J., and Propping, P. (eds.),Twins as a Tool of Behavioral Genetics, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp. 109–119.
Loehlin, J. C., and Nichols, R. K. (1976).Heredity, Environment and Personality. A Study of 850 Sets of Twins, University of Texas Press, Austin.
Magnus, P., Berg, K., and Nance, W. E. (1983). Predicting zygosity in Norwegian twin pairs born in 1915–1960.Clin. Genet. 24:103–112.
Martin, N. G., and Eaves, L. J. (1977). The genetic analysis of covariance structure.Heredity 18:79–95.
Martin, N. G., Eaves, L. J., and Fulker, D. W. (1979). The gentical relationship of impulsiveness and sensation seeking to Eysenck's personality dimensions.Acta Genet. Med. Gemellol. 28:197–210.
Neale, M. C. (1993).Statistical Modeling with Mx, Box 710, Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23298-0710.
Neale, M. C., and Cardon, L. R. (1992).Methodology for Genetic Studies of Twins and Families (NATO ASI Series D: Behavioral and Social Sciences, Vol. 67), Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (1994).Vademecum of Health Statistics of the Netherlands, 1994, SDU, The Hague, p. 69.
Plomin, R., and Daniels, D. (1987). Why are children in the same family so different from one another?Behav. Brain Sci. 10:1–60.
Resnick, S. M., Gottesman, I. I., and McGue, M. (1993). Sensation seeking in opposite sex twins: An effect of prenatal hormones?Behav. Genet. 23:323–329.
Tas, R. F. J. (1990). Meerlingen in Nederland, 1900–1988 (Multiple births in the Netherlands, 1900–1988).CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) Maandstatistiek Bevolking 4:12–23, 30–31.
van Beijsterveldt, C. E. M., Molenaar, P. C. M., de Geus, J. C. N., and Boomsma, D. I. (1994). Individual differences in P300 amplitude: A genetic study in adolescent twins (submitted for publication).
Zuckerman, M. (1971). Dimensions of sensation seeking.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 36:45–52.
Zuckerman, M. (1974). The sensation seeking motive. In Maher, B. (ed.),Progress in Experimental Personality Research, Vol. 7, Academic Press, New York, pp. 79–148.
Zuckerman, M. (1979).Sensation Seeking: Beyond the Optimal Level of Arousal, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.
Zuckerman, M. (1984). Sensation seeking: A comparative approach to a human trait.Behav. Brain Sci. 7:413–471.
Zuckerman, M., Eysenck, S., and Eysenck, H. J. (1978). Sensation seeking in England and America: cross-cultural, age and sex comparisons.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46:139–149.
Zuckerman, M., Buchsbaum, M. S., and Murphy, L. (1980). Sensation seeking and its biological correlates.Psychol. Bull. 88:187–214.
About this article
Cite this article
Koopmans, J.R., Boomsma, D.I., Heath, A.C. et al. A multivariate genetic analysis of sensation seeking. Behav Genet 25, 349–356 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02197284
- Sensation seeking
- adolescent twins
- multivariate genetic analysis