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Sensation-Seeking Targeting

  • By: Philip Palmgreen & Lewis Donohew
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Sensation seeking, as defined by Marvin Zuckerman, is a personality trait associated with the need for novel, complex, ambiguous, and emotionally intense stimuli and the willingness to take risks to obtain such stimulation. According to scores of studies spanning four decades across cultures, sensation seeking is moderately to strongly associated with a variety of risky behaviors including drug use, unsafe sex, crime, delinquency, and drinking and driving. It has therefore become an important segmentation variable in health communication interventions, particularly mass media campaigns. Especially important from a prevention perspective is that high-sensation seekers also prefer highly stimulating messages. These characteristics of the sensation seeking trait have led to the development of an activation model of information exposure (AMIE) and its widely applied offspring, the sensation ...

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