Objective: There were two objectives in this research. First, to develop and evaluate the criterion validity of a questionnaire measure of sensation seeking in children, by examining how scores on this instrument relate to various indices of physical risk taking in children 7-12 years of age. Second, to develop both a parent-report and child-report version of the instrument.
Methods: Drawing on the literature, items tapping five potential aspects of sensation seeking were developed, with parents and children responding to comparable items. For each of these five subscales, internal reliability estimates were computed separately for the parent-report and child-report versions. To establish criterion validity, subscale scores were related to three indices of children's risk taking commonly used in research: actual risk taking, intentions-to-risk take, self-reports about risk taking on a standardized questionnaire.
Results: On both the child-report and parent-report versions, the same three of the five subscales yielded acceptable internal reliability scores and significantly related to the various indices of risk taking.
Conclusions: This new measure adequately assesses aspects of sensation seeking relevant to children's risk taking. Because individuals high in sensation seeking engage in greater risk taking and are at increased risk of injury, this instrument may prove particularly useful to aid in identifying those children most likely to engage in injury-risk behaviors so that targeted interventions can be applied to this group.