Enjoy earthy body smells! Meet a homosexual! Make “far out” friends!

While browsing through various assessment scales I came across the Sensation Seeking Scale (Word document), a psychological tool published in 1971 for identifying personality traits that make people prone to risk-taking, experience-seeking or disinhibited behaviour. It asks the individual to choose between two different statements and decide which applies more to them. For example,

1.A I like “wild” uninhibited parties.
B I prefer quiet parties with good conversation.

Oh yes, and there’s lots of quotation marks in the questions, to the point that you feel like putting down the pen at intervals to do air quotes with your fingers.

I’m finding it an absolutely fascinating artefact – not so much for what it’s telling me about psychology, but what it says about how times have changed in what’s considered risky (or risque!) behaviour. Bizarrely, I’m told some professionals still recommend this as an assessment tool. Anyway, let’s delve in and find out whether we’re sensation seekers or not.

As I’ve said, a lot of the questions simply don’t withstand the test of time. For example, this one…

2. A There are some movies I enjoy seeing a second or even a third time.
B I can’t stand watching a movie I’ve seen before.

…was clearly thought up in the era before the invention of the VCR.

Then there’s the groovy Sixties/Seventies language, such as,

12.A I dislike “swingers” (people who are uninhibited and free about sex).
B I enjoy the company of real “swingers.”

Or this,

19. A I prefer the “down-to-earth” kinds of people as friends.
B I would like to make friends in some of the “far-out” groups like artists or “punks.”

“Punks” aren’t the only people they ask if you’d like to meet.

22. A I would like to meet some persons who are homosexual (men or women).
B I stay away from anyone I suspect of being “gay” or “lesbian.”

I’m imagining the 70s dinner parties now. “Oh, sweetie! Have you been to Lady Greyfriar’s Meet-A-Homosexual soirees? They’re simply divine! Last month’s homosexual was a delightful specimen named Geoff!”

35. A There is altogether too much portrayal of sex in movies.
B I enjoy watching many of the “sexy” scenes in the movies.

Oh, 1971, you have no idea what’s coming.

There’s quite a few questions about whether people are interested in various adventure sports, which seems fair enough in a question about sensation-seeking. Though some of them have rather odd wording.

23. A I would like to try parachute jumping.
B I would never want to try jumping out of a plane with or without a parachute.

Eh? Who are the people who want to jump out of a plane without a parachute?

There’s a slightly judgemental question about art.

26. A The essence of good art is in its clarity, symmetry of form and harmony of colors.
B I often find beauty in the “clashing” colors and irregular forms of modern paintings.

Yep, if you like a Picasso that makes you “far out”, Daddio.

And then there’s some that just seem a bit random.

4. A I dislike all body odors.
B I like some of the earthy body smells.

If you want a test score, you can do it on the BBC Science website (with some of the more archaic language taken out, though they still ask you if you want to meet a homosexual). I scored 33 out of 40. I guess that makes a sensation seeker. Or a groovy hip cat. Party on down, 1971!

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13 thoughts on “Enjoy earthy body smells! Meet a homosexual! Make “far out” friends!

  1. I’m really boring then, I only scored 17 out of 40

  2. The questions are so funny because sometimes A AND B might be true for you, ie, liking symmetrical and clashing art, not one of the other, ditto sex in films and watching scenes. I think there is too much sex but that doesn’t mean I’m not adverse to watching a sexy scene, so again the answers are too rigid and limiting. Others are just hilarious. I reckon we should make up one of our own, lets a psychiatrist/psychologist/nurse scale and how about an MP scale.
    So we could have questions such as, ‘Do you want to kill your psychologist? A yes B no. Then ‘Would you prefer to have sex with George Osbourne, Theresa May or die? A Osbourne B May C Death would be preferable

    • Re: the Theresa May, Osborne, or death question – Can I phone a friend??

    • The questions are so funny because sometimes A AND B might be true for you

      I thought that about this one:

      A I like to date members of the opposite sex who are physically exciting.
      B I like to date members of the opposite sex who share my values.

      Surely people would want to date someone who is physically exciting AND who shares their values? I mean, you wouldn’t want to date a really hot member of the English Defence League.

  3. I scored 23/40 which was lower than I expected! lol I love this though, so hilarious.
    When I was on my cruise earlier this year I was baffled by the daily adverts for activities for ‘Friends of Dorothy’ I didn’t go to any (not knowing who Dorothy was) and wondered who this Dorothy was, and why she and all her friends were hanging around on a cruise ship… doh, I felt so silly when I discovered what it was! But it reminds me of this kind of out-of-date approach to things! lol

  4. I’m not even going to post my score, let’s just say I seem to be an anti-sensation seeker & it was under 15. Does that make me a total bore?!

  5. sex with A or B or choose death – most people prefer death to an MP

  6. well clearly Sunshine Kid you and I are made for each other as low scorers!

  7. OK I finally caved and did the test – 11/40. Either I’m boring as hell or the test is bollocks. Umm… 😉

    I think the questions where both answers are true for you are just testing whether or not you question the person administrating the test. If you do question it, you’re labelled uncompliant and discharged immediately for “acting out”. If you don’t question it, you’re clearly trying too hard therefore put on an immediate course of computerised CBT as punishment.

  8. I giggled but seriously it does really call into question the cultural expectations and the kinds of ways that judgements are made about others. And the jumping out of the plane with or without a parachute? Um.. as if there’s no real difference if you want the parachute or not!

  9. I’m still slightly concerned that so far I’ve scored the highest by some considerable degree. 🙂

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