Brief measures of sensation seeking for screening and large-scale surveys

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 Dec 11;72(3):279-86. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2003.08.003.


Sensation seeking is central to research on the prevention of risky health behaviors, but current measures of sensation seeking are fairly long, thereby reducing their chances of inclusion in some research projects. Hence, we developed and evaluated two brief indices of sensation seeking, a four-item measure that retains the framework of the Sensation Seeking Scale-Form V (SSS-V) and a shorter two-item measure focusing on the risk-taking elements of sensation seeking. We compared the performance of the new indices with that of two well documented but longer measures of sensation seeking. The evaluation was based on data provided by more than 5000 teens and pre-teens in grades 7 through 11. Psychometric analyses revealed that the internal consistency of the two new measures was very good overall and across grade and sex categories. Additionally, the new indices correlated as expected with a series of risk and protective factors as well as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use. Both indices performed in ways remarkably similar to the established measures of sensation seeking and should prove useful for future research involving risky health behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology
  • Mass Screening
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*