Risky Behavior?Skydiving, bungee jumping, and parasailing are three of the hottest growing sports related businesses in the World today. One would wonder why someone would willingly participate in such activities, and even pay to do so. The fact is that risk-taking activities like these have been around for thousands of years. But it is with today s technological resources that these activities have gotten even more risky and dangerous than ever before. All this happens in an effort to get as close to actual danger without experiencing the consequences. Life is full of more than enough regular occurring dangerous situation, why would anyone try to add any more unneeded dangers? In the following paragraphs I will try to answer not only that question, but also the psychological basis for this risky behavior and the factors that contribute to this sometimes-unexplainable behavior. To answer these questions we must first establish a background in the psychology of this behavior. That is to state the common attributes of this behavior in all most all humans. If we follow Sigmund Freud s classic theory then these risky behaviors cause an increase of the body s arousal that in turn either causes an increase in pleasure or a decrease of pleasure (when at normal arousal the body feels in between pleasant and unpleasant). But in Freud s theory all cases of high arousal are viewed as something that people try to avoid. This is obviously not true because of these risky behaviors that people engage in every day. So we will believe that an increase in arousal can cause either an increase in pleasure, which can be called excitement, or a decrease in pleasure, which can be called anxiety. But all humans do not necessarily avoid these behaviors. Now if with increasing arousal a human s state can change than a decrease should do something to the same effect. In fact a decrease in arousal from the normal middle point can either cause an increase in pleasure called relaxation, or a decrease called boredom. These are the opposite ends of excitement and anxiety, with relation and anxiety directly related and excitement and boredom directly related. Which means that if someone is excited by some behavior than they will be bored by the opposite behavior, and if someone is anxious because of some behavior than they will be relaxed by the opposite. It also means that if a behavior causes excitement then when the behavior is stopped and arousal goes down than the state of the human changes from excited to bored. The same goes for anxiety and relaxation, if something makes you anxious than when it is over you often become relaxed.Each side, high arousal and low arousal, has unpleasant and pleasant states. These states are very closely related. Many times an activity causes different feelings in different people, so the person/s in the activity could experience either a pleasant or unpleasant state. In one activity of very high arousal one person might be highly anxious, and another person very excited. The factor that often controls these differences is called the protective frame. The idea of the protective frame is that there are three zones, the safety zone, the danger zone, and the trauma zone, and the protective frame lies on the edge between the danger zone and the trauma zone. Before going to the protective frame I will discuss the three zones. The safety zone is the place where the person feels totally safe and no danger is apparent. The danger zone is the place where the danger is perceived and becomes apparent. The trauma zone is the zone where the danger is experienced, and where the danger causes some sort of trauma to the person. The view of danger in these three zones is also associated with the increase of arousal. If someone s activity takes them into the danger zone because of their perceived risk of the situation than with the amount of perceived danger, or the farther they go into the danger zone, the higher their arousal will be. Now with increased arousal the person can either feel excited or anxious. The protective frame is the factor that controls which feeling is experienced. The protective frame can be many things. A simple definition of it is the line that is viewed, by the person in the activity as the farthest he/she could go without severe consequences. The person often feels that no matter what happens this line will not be crossed, or the protective frame will stay in tact and they will not enter into the trauma zone. In a highly risky activity the participate puts all the factors into place and believes that no matter what happens they will come out of the experience all right. All right not necessarily being un-injured, just that the possible consequences still do not outweigh the actual activity. It is this protective frame that differentiates between the feeling of anxiety or excitement. In a highly dangerous situation if a person feels that they have an adequate protective frame than the experience will be viewed as highly exciting. But if for some reason they feel that the protective frame is not strong enough or simply not in place than the activity will cause high anxiety in that person.
The protective frame is the factor that allows people to take such high risks just to achieve excitement. If someone did any of these high risk activities with out the protective frame than they would view it as bad and would be anxious. A good example of this is children at the zoo. It is exciting to be that close to a tiger or lion but if there were no cage it would not be exciting, instead it would cause great anxiety. But without the tiger or danger the cage by itself would be boring/plain. So it is necessary to have both the danger/tiger and the protective frame/cage to view these activities as exciting. Most people view these activities as dangerous (seeing the tiger, bungee jumping) so by process of elimination it must be the protective cage that varies from person to person and controls their view of the situation. Since the person puts the protective frame into place in the activity (it is their view of their safety in the activity) each protective frame in any activity is different depending on the person. Having the protective frame be self-set causes it to be many times non-realistic. Just because the person feels that adequate precautions have taken place and he/she will be all right no mater what, does not necessarily mean that they have or will. In fact the protective frame can be often just imagined or miss-believed. But that makes no difference to the person in the activity. As long as they feel enough of a protective frame, than the activity will be exciting and worth doing and paying for. What it would take for a daredevil to bungee jump and feel it as exciting, and what it would take for a typical human to jump is totally different because of their perceived views of safety. This is why most people often see these activities as crazy and wonder why a person would do it. They could never understand why because they would never feel comfortable with the protective frame that the person in the activity has, and therefore would feel anxious and bad instead of excited and good.One might also ask why they have to go to such extremes to experience this excitement. It is because of the great risk that they take, that they have high arousal. If they were doing something that might cause excitement because of danger then realized that it was not dangerous their arousal would fall and they would go to the opposite end of the scale and become bored with the activity. In the same way if something caused a person to be very anxious because of the danger and lack of protective frame, when the danger is taken away the person would feel relieved and relaxed. It is because of this that these risky behaviors are getting more and more extreme. After bungee jumping a few hundred times the person would most likely get comfortable with the danger and feel bored. So they then think up some other more dangerous activity that they are not comfortable with so they can feel the danger and in turn the excitement.Another un-explainable behavior that can be explained by this idea of the protective frame is the enjoy ability of breaking the law for some people. Many times in an activity a persons protective frame can change, and that persons feelings will change in accordance. A simple example of this is when someone is bungee jumping. They often feel very anxious in the beginning, and then after they jump they realize that they are going to be all right, or their protective frame will stay intact, they feel very excited. When they realize that they are all right they still have very high arousal, and this causes their excitement. In the case of breaking the law if a bank robber gets highly aroused and anxious because of the act of robbing a bank, and the consequences it could present, then after the robbery is over he/she often feels safer. When they feel safe their protective frame is back in place and they still are highly aroused from the robbery but because of the protective frame with the high arousal they now feel excited and good. It is most likely because of this after feeling or change from anxiety to excitement that makes such an activity like breaking the law viewed as enjoyable by some people. This explains why some people actually enjoy doing something wrong, because of the excitement that comes from getting away with the crime. Skydiving, bungee diving, and bank robbing are most commonly viewed as activities that would cause a person to be very scared and anxious. Because of the psychological differences in people, perceived risks and safety in activities change depending on the person. These differences are what make these activities enjoyable and exciting to some people. Just like how people s view of lemons is different (some people see lemons as sour disliked fruit, others view them as lemonade, an exciting juice making venture), so are their views of these high-risk activities.