The Sensation-Seeking and Motivational Dimensions of Storm Chasers
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Since the release of the Hollywood blockbuster Twister in 1996, and later the Discovery Channel television show Storm Chasers, 2007-2011, the general public has taken a larger collective interest in storm chasing. A storm chaser is defined as a person who observes and follows a developing thunderstorm either for educational purposes, scientific research, or as a recreational activity (Robinson 1999). This study examined the factors associated with participation in the risk recreation activity of storm chasing in the US. Following previous research, both motivations and sensation-seeking attributes were explored.
As more and more individuals take part in the recreational risk activity of storm chasing the need to examine the factors influencing these decisions is necessary. Studies have previously examined either the motivations that drive risk activities or the personality traits (i.e. sensation-seeking characteristics) associated with other risk recreational activity participants; however, little has been done to examine the risk recreational group of storm chasers.
A survey instrument gathered information on motivational dimensions, sensation seeking characteristics, and socio-demographic characteristics of storm chaser participants. Results of this study identified that participants in storm chasing do not pursue risks as their ultimate goals, but primarily seek challenging experiences. Learning and gaining insight were identified as integral motivations that influence a particular experience. Furthermore, this study corroborates Robinson’s (1999) findings while further contributing to his definition of a storm chaser. In addition to storm chasers observing and following a developing thunderstorm either for educational purposes, scientific research, or as a recreational activity this study finds that storm chasers are individuals interested in seeking an experience and are further motived by experiencing nature and learning.