Reliability and validity of a brief measure of sensation seeking

Rick H. Hoyle, Michael T. Stephenson, Philip Palmgreen, Elizabeth Pugzles Lorch, R. Lewis Donohew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

941 Scopus citations


We developed a self-report measure of sensation seeking, a dispositional risk factor for various problem behaviors. In two studies, we administered the Brief Sensation Seeking Scale (BSSS) to more than 7000 adolescents. Study 1 participants completed a paper-and-pencil form of the BSSS in mass-testing sessions. Psychometric analyses of the resultant data revealed suitable item characteristics and internal consistency of responses to the items across age (13-17 years), sex, and ethnic categories. Study 2 participants, who completed the BSSS individually in an interview format, also provided data on their perceptions of and experiences with licit and illicit drugs as well as a series of additional risk and protective factors. Scores on the full BSSS correlated inversely with negative attitudes toward drug use and positively with drug use; sensation seeking as measured by the BSSS was a particularly strong predictor of the intention to try marijuana in the future. BSSS scores were reliably and predictably associated with other risk and protective factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-414
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A portion of the results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, May 3, 1996. This research was supported by Grant DA-06892 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Study 2 data were gathered by personnel at the Survey Research Center, University of Kentucky, and the Social Science Research Institute, University of Tennessee.


  • Measurement
  • Problem behavior
  • Sensation seeking
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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