Saturday, June 4, 2011

Media Motivates Dangerous Sensation Seeking

As I was reading Chapter Nine in our textbook, the sensation seeking section really got me thinking about what we see in the media. The book taught me that sensation seeking is broken up into four factors but the one I could not stop thinking about is Disinhibition. Disinhibition is defined as "...the desire for variety attained by drinking, partying, gambling, sexual activity, and other hedonic pursuits."

This article by Christopher Agutos, sourced from, hits on the topic that a popular TV show and famous stars entice us become dangerous sensation seekers.

What I like about this article is that the author discusses that letting off some steam from time to time will happen, especially in the college scene, and there is no getting away from that. I cannot tell you how many nights I have lost sleep because of college neighbors throwing wild parties. The author discusses that ultimately the choice is ours to act the way we do but popular television shows that we see and hear about all the time can make that lifestyle more "desirable". The author discusses the show Jersey Shore in great detail and this is a perfect example of the disinhibition factor of sensation seeking because in almost every episode the 'cast' is seen going to a club, drinking until drunk, and dangerous sexual activities. Now I know that not every college student is ready to do any of these things, but some students are. Perhaps seeing these acts performed on a reality show normalizes these types of dangerous activities and therefore motivate extraverted sensation seekers to more readily engage in dangerous behavior.

Since I find the show Jersey Shore to be such a good example of disinhibition I added a clip of the main 'cast' on a popular late night talk show called Chelsea Lately, shown on the E! television network.

I do not watch this show but I had heard about most of what is discussed this video from friends or people passing by. The first thing discussed is when 'Snooki' was punched in the face. As they discuss an issue of public violence, jokes are made and the crowd laughs. We associate joking and laughter with happiness usually but the situation is not happy at all.
The victim of the assault did not seem to be phased by the attack very much which might lead to some highly influenced viewers to think that being physically attacked at a bar is no big deal.

The video goes on to say that 'Snooki' and 'The Situation' have 'hooked up' which stems from kissing to "a little more than that". They express their relationship as casual and "not awkward at all". Now I am no expert on relationships and I do not judge others for how they are with relationships but thinking back to chapter three I remember the terms jealousy and mate poaching. I feel these are undesirable but can be an easy occurrence in a casual relationship.

Overall the most popular media such as television, music, and magazines have been encouraging dangerous sensation seeking. All that I am hoping for is that the youth of our world is not being too highly influenced by these dangerous types of activities. Shows like the Jersey Shore that normalize and toss aside morals in order to have fun could be reaching children and giving them the wrong idea about things. Older teens and young adults can also be highly influenced by these types of media and could turn into a 'I don't care' kind of attitude about serious subjects like violence, sex and drinking, all things that can cause death when done dangerously.

A quote from Sherlock Holmes by author Arthur Conan Doyle expresses what should be done when being a dangerous sensation seeker, "I have to be careful, for I dabble with poisons a good deal."


  1. Kathleen, this post peaked my interest as I am also taking a class on the effects of media on children. The average American child (18 and under) watches 25 hours a week of television! Young children do not know the difference between what is fake (TV) and reality (real life). The media can have a great effect on young, impressional children, especially without the guidence of a parent. I definately think the media can encourage dangerous sensation seeking as TV becomes their reality. THey are unable to seperate T.V. from real life.

  2. I could not agree more Megan. When children and young adults watch too much television how are they supposed to distinguish that from real life? The lives we see on TV can be very appealing sometimes, but acting like reality stars will not get us far in life.