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The role of sensation seeking and optimism bias on speeding behaviour among young adults Bruno, Talino

Abstract

This study analyzed the relationship between Sensation Seeking (SS) and Optimism bias (OB) and their role in speeding among young adult participants (19-30). Sensation seeking is a personality trait characterized by an individual's propensity to engage in risky and sometimes novel activities. Optimism Bias is a tendency for individuals to view themselves as more skilled and less prone to negative consequences than others in the population. Both, SS and OB have been linked to risky driving behavior such as speeding. Two hundred sixteen participants (males =101 and females =115) were recruited from the lower mainland of British Columbia. Participants completed the Sensation Seeking Scale, Optimism Bias questionnaire and a demographic questionnaire, which included questions that provided a dependent variable quantified by the Mean Speed Ratio (MSR). Participants were divided into high, moderate and low groups based on scores from the Sensation Seeking scale. The same categories were used to divide participants based on OB scores. It was hypothesized that participants high in SS would have higher MSRs than low or moderate SS participants. It was also hypothesized that high OB participants would also have higher MSRs than low or moderate OB participants. The main hypothesis focused on the combination of High SS and OB. It was expected, based on theory, that this combination would provide higher MSR for participants high in SS and OB when compared to individuals low in SS and OB. The results of the study found that there were significant differences between High SS and low or moderate individuals. Participants high in OB did not differ significantly from those moderate or low in OB in their reported MSR. A significant difference was found between High SS and OB participants and Low OB and SS participants. Exploratory analyses were conducted looking at speeding citations and levels of the independent variables. Age groups and gender were analyzed in post hoc analyses. The results of this study provide further support to the contention that sensation seeking plays a role in speeding behaviour. The role of optimism bias did not seem to play a significant role in reported speeding as measured by the MSR. The combination of High OB and SS seemed to play a significant role in participants' MSR score. Possible explanations for the results were explored and implications for counselling psychology, based on these finding, were discussed.

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