Why People Take Risks

Topics: Risk, Psychology, Trait theory Pages: 3 (927 words) Published: March 6, 2011
Taking Risks
What I Already Known/What I Want to Know
While reading Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, I began to wonder why individuals take extreme risks. Over the course of this novel, a team of highly trained mountain climbers attempts to climb Mount Everest in 1996. Several die, get injured, and go missing. Death becomes very familiar to the team of climbers. In the book, Hall and Hansen get stranded, Hansen runs out of supplemental oxygen and cannot continue; Fischer also gets stranded, Hansen dies, and one of Hall's sherpas tries to rescue Hall, but cannot climb high enough. After reading about the deaths, I was astonished that Krakauer continued to climb the highest mountain on earth. I believe people are motivated to perform life- threatening tasks for money and publicity. In fact, after reading several articles, I learned that risk taking is a result of neuro-biology and there are actually many people who need “hype” and excitement in their life, making this a personality trait. This I-search paper will explore why people take extreme risks. The Story of My Search

As I read Into Thin Air, I noticed that risk taking and near death experiences were the backbone of the plot. When I was assigned this paper the psychology behind taking risks ran through my mind and intrigued me. I came across an article by Marvin Zuckerman, from psychologytoday.com, “Some psychologists have suggested that risk-taking is linked to neuroticism, a personality trait. They see it as an expression of neurotic conflict, a form of acting out or counter-phobic behavior.” Therefore, Zuckerman believes that some individuals take risks because they have negative emotions. Madeline Ellis, from healthnews.com, says, “It involves the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Commonly associated with the pleasure center of the brain, dopamine provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person to perform certain activities such as eating and sex.” Dopamine neurons control movement...
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