Adrenaline Junkie Genetics?

I always considered myself a thrill seeker, but I never would classify myself as an adrenaline junkie.  When I took the risk taker test I got an 85,
which is pretty high.  When asked why I think I look for this rush, I didn’t know how to answer because I have always sought adventure.  I have ridden horses since I was seven, and have taken some risks on them (including a few trips to the hospital).  Since I came to Virginia I have gone skydiving twice, white water rafted down 5+ rapids three times, I go camping constantly, and have done many things on a whim.

However, no one else in my family searches for adventure like I do.  Most of the time, they think I am insane for doing what I volunteer to do.  I wonder if being an adrenaline junkie has any genetic qualities, or if it is based more off of the environment you are raised in.  I found some articles that say it may be hereditary, but there is nothing definite.

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4 Responses to “Adrenaline Junkie Genetics?”


  1. 1 carimalakoff May 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I think that a person being classified as an adrenaline junkie is due to a combination of both genetic qualities and the environment you are raised in. I believe that the characteristics of a person are in a way due to genetics, in which a child who is scared of heights may have adopted that fear due to her mother also being scared of heights. However, I also believe that it could be the environment in which you are raised in which if others around you enjoy the thrill of roller-coasters, taking risks, and other adventurous activities, you as well are more likely to thrive on taking those risks due to being around others in your environment who enjoy those activities.

  2. 2 mdpacifico May 17, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I also agree that our thrill seeking attitude comes from both genetics as well as the environment we were raised in. After reading Sapolsky’s chapter on adrenaline junkies he seems to hint that the drive comes from something more genetic. Most of his reasoning for why adrenaline junkies are the way they are, are reasons that involve chemical balances that we are born with. On the other hand I personally feel that the environment we are raised in can also play a big role. For example I could see someone who had very over-protective parents as a child feel the need to take more risks because they felt restrained by their parents. So weather there could also be something wrong with their glucocorticoid levels could also play a role.

  3. 3 klew23 May 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I think it definitely has something to do with genetics. Personally, my parents are crazy, and they love thrilling amusement park rides. As a result, I have loved roller coasters and such for as long as I could remember. On the contrary, I have two younger brothers that absolutely detest thrill rides, and one of them is very conservative regarding risk taking. Maybe this need for thrill is by chance, but most likely it is determined by numerous factors.

  4. 4 David Lynch May 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I don’t necessarily think that the adrenaline junkie trait is one that may be passed down genetically, but I do think your family could have quite an impact on what you seek to get thrills. When I was younger, my dad would take my brother and I out to do all sorts of crazy things… we would go hiking up mountains, and every time there was a challenge presented to us in form of a small rock wall or some other obstacle, he would have at it and we would follow. Most of the obstacles were small and not the elast bit dangerous. However, now, at 22, if I go out hiking I search for the obstacles and keep an eye out for the next cliff to ascend.

    The same situation goes when I’m out on the water. When I was younger we would go out in the canoe or sail boat, and would often find rapids or get the sail boat tilted to its limit. Now when I go out on the water I search for obstacles and opportunities in the form of rapids or a strong wind. I love the thrills.

    So, I don’t think it is ginetics, but I do think the environment within which one is raised will have an effect on one’s need for that next rush of adrenaline.


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