Current Psychology

, 30:184 | Cite as

Ageism, Sensation-Seeking, and Risk-Taking Behavior in Young Adults

  • Lauren E. Popham
  • Shelia M. Kennison
  • Kristopher I. Bradley


The research investigated the relationships among ageism, sensation-seeking, and risk-taking in young adults. Recent research has shown that young adults reporting higher levels of ageist attitudes and ageist behaviors also report higher levels of risk-taking in daily life than those with less ageist attitudes and behaviors (Popham et al. in press). The results are consistent with terror management theory; young adults may attempt to buffer their death anxiety by seeking out experiences that make them feel strong and invulnerable (i.e., taking risks). In contrast, prior research has shown that there is a link between risk-taking and sensation-seeking and that individuals may be biologically predisposed to be high sensation-seekers (Zuckerman Behavioural and Brain Sciences 7:413–471, 1984; Neuropsychobiology 13:121–128, 1985). In a study with 475 undergraduates, we investigated the relationships among ageism, sensation-seeing, and risk-taking behavior. The results showed that ageist behavior and two dimensions of sensation-seeking (i.e., Disinhibition and Experience Seeking) were significant predictors of risk-taking. Implications for practical approaches to reduce risk-taking in young adults are discussed.


Ageism Risk-taking Sensation-seeking Terror management theory Young adults 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren E. Popham
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shelia M. Kennison
    • 1
  • Kristopher I. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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