Sexual sensation seeking: scale development and predicting AIDS-risk behavior among homosexually active men

J Pers Assess. 1994 Jun;62(3):385-97. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa6203_1.


Sensation seeking, the propensity to prefer exciting, optimal, and novel stimulation or arousal, is a potential mediating factor in sexual risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, the most widely used measure of sensation seeking, the Sensation Seeking Scale (Zuckerman, Kolin, Price, & Zoob, 1964), contains numerous culturally outdated items and items that do not pertain to sexual behavior. In this study, 106 homosexually active men completed newly developed measures of sensation seeking related to sexual and nonsexual experiences, as well as a measure of sexual compulsivity. Results show that the new scales were internally consistent and time-stable. Additional analyses demonstrated convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity for these scales, showing them to be of use as mediating variables in models of high-risk sexual behavior. Implications for HIV prevention and behavior change are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Condoms
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology
  • Homosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*