Behavioral characteristics related to substance abuse and risk-taking, sensation-seeking, anxiety sensitivity, and self-reinforcement

Addict Behav. Jan-Feb 2001;26(1):115-20. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(00)00071-x.


Given the multitude of negative outcomes associated with substance abuse and other risk-taking behaviors, the current study sought to investigate sensation seeking, anxiety sensitivity, and self-reinforcement as they relate to participation in high-risk behaviors with 155 undergraduate students. The measures were the Reckless Behavior Questionnaire, Sensation Seeking Scale, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, Heiby Self-Reinforcement Questionnaire, and a sample of items from the treatment factor of the Substance Abuse Attitude Survey. Significant multivariate effects were attributable to sensation seeking and anxiety sensitivity. Sensation seeking and anxiety sensitivity were significant predictors of substance abuse. The model significantly predicted risky sexual behavior with a positive relationship between sensation seeking and risky sexual behavior. High anxiety-sensitivity scores were associated with a greater reported incidence of high-risk sexual practices. Participants highest in sensation seeking were most likely to engage in reckless driving, with male incidence being greater than for females. An unexpected finding was that anxiety sensitivity negatively correlated with substance abuse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychometrics
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*