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Accid Anal Prev. 2012 Sep;48:292-6. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.01.031. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Self reported risk taking and risk compensation in skiers and snowboarders are associated with sensation seeking.

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Dept. of Sport Science of the University of Innsbruck, Austria.


In alpine skiing, a controversial discussion has been taking place regarding the potential influence of wearing a ski helmet on the individual level of risk taking behaviour. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether self reported risk taking behaviour and self reported risk compensation are associated with the personality trait sensation seeking (SS) in alpine skiing and snowboarding. In total, 683 persons (36% males and 64% females) completed an online-survey about attitudes and use of protective gear in winter sports including the German version of the sensation seeking scale form V. A logistic regression analysis including gender, age, nationality, preferred winter sport, self reported skiing ability, mean skiing time per season, use of ski helmets, and SS total score was used to estimated adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (95 CI) for self reported risk taking behaviour. Regression analysis revealed that a more risky behaviour increased with male gender (OR: 2.7), with an age<25 years (OR: 1.6), with skiing (OR: 1.3), higher skill level (OR: 5.7), and a mean skiing time>28 days per season (OR: 2.2). In addition, SS total score was significantly higher in more risky compared to more cautious people (23.8 vs. 20.3, p<.001). Ski helmet use was not found to be predictive for a more risky behaviour (p>.05). Also, skiers and snowboarders with self reported risk compensation while wearing a ski helmet had higher SS total scores compared to those who did not report risk compensation (23.8 vs. 20.9, p=.001). In addition, self reported risk compensation in helmet wearers increased with an age<25 years (OR: 2.2), a higher skill level (OR: 2.5) and a mean skiing time>28 days per season (OR: 2.1). In conclusion, self reported risk taking and self reported risk compensation are associated with higher sensation seeking total scores. The personality trait sensation seeking, not wearing of a ski helmet, appears to be associated with riskier behaviour on the ski slopes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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