The relationship between novelty-seeking traits and behavior: Establishing construct validity for the human Behavioral Pattern Monitor

Psychiatry Res. 2022 Oct:316:114776. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2022.114776. Epub 2022 Aug 7.


Novelty seeking is a tendency to approach new situations, putatively driven by the brain's catecholaminergic system. It is traditionally measured via self-report, but a laboratory-based paradigm, the human Behavioral Pattern Monitor (hBPM), quantifies behavior in a novel environment and has utility in cross-species studies of neuropsychiatric disorders. Our primary aim assessed whether self-reported novelty-seeking traits were associated with novelty-seeking behavior in the hBPM. An existing sample of 106 volunteers were categorized as high vs. low novelty seekers using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Subjects had been randomized to one dose of amphetamine (10 or 20 mg) or modafinil (200 or 400 mg), allowing us to explore whether a pharmacological catecholamine challenge further enhanced novelty-seeking behavior. High TCI novelty-seekers had more hBPM motor activity and novel object interactions. The exploratory analyses, although limited by low power, suggested that amphetamine and modafinil did not markedly moderate novelty-seeking traits. The hBPM demonstrates construct validity as a lab-based measure of novelty seeking and thus useful in translational studies of neuropsychiatric conditions and treatment options. Further research may illuminate whether a biological predisposition towards higher catecholaminergic activity, combined with the novelty-seeking trait, may increase propensity for risky and addictive behaviors.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Exploration; Modafinil; Motor activity; Temperament and character inventory.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Character*
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Modafinil
  • Temperament


  • Modafinil