The psychology of physical risk taking behaviour
This study investigates the psychology of risk taking, and in particular the personality profiles associated with different physical risk taking behaviours. It was hypothesised that there may be three fundamental approaches to risk: 'Risk avoiders' avoid activities they perceive to contain risk, 'risk reducers' participate in high risk activities in spite of the risks involved, and 'risk optimisers' who are motivated by the exposure to risk. An appropriate measure of subjective risk assessments was not identified in the existing literature, and the 27-item Physical Risk Assessment Inventory (PRAI) psychometric measure was therefore developed. After initial piloting the PRAI was administered to 407 subjects. Subsequent analyses revealed that two oblique factors accounted for much of the variance in physical risk assessments, and these were initially identified as "Sports" and "Health" factors. A wide ranging test battery (including the EPQ-R and selected scales of the ZKPQ) was th en administered to 113 subjects, and further analyses suggested that high risk sports and health risk behaviours were associated with independent psychological profiles. Health risk behaviours were associated with an "Antisocial" factor that was identified by high social and physical risk propensity, Sensation Seeking and Psychoticism. The participation in high risk sports loaded on a second "Venturesomeness" factor that was associated with high confidence, physical risk propensity, Sensation Seeking, peer behaviours and being male. A third "Physical Risk Assessment" factor was associated with high physical risk assessments, being female, and low Addiction scores. Multiple regression analyses suggested that 38% of health risk behaviours, and 60% of sports risk behaviours could be predicted by the variables included in this study. Convergent qualitative data provides additional support for the validity of thes fore appears to be limited to the role of Sensation Seeking and physical risk optimisation.