Marvin Zuckerman’s Theory of Personality she is best known for introducing the factor called “Sensation Research”, which has had a major influence in the field of personality psychology.
Beyond the relevance of the Sensation-seeking dimensionThe model itself is an interesting alternative to the Big Five, the predominant theory, because it is based on the biological factors of personality described by Hans Eysenck.
Life and Work of Marvin Zuckerman
Marvin Zuckerman was born in Chicago in 1928. After obtaining his doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University, he conducted research on anxiety through personality analysis, primarily through psychological testing.
during their sensory deprivation studies At the University of Delaware, where he worked for over 20 years, Zuckerman found that some subjects tolerated the experimental situation very well, while others showed very negative reactions to the lack of environmental stimulation.
From these results, Zuckerman began to speculate on the existence of a basic personality factor linked to sensation seeking, Which would depend on the optimal level of activation of each individual. Thus, people who need a lot of stimulation to feel comfortable are more likely to seek sensations.
Zuckerman retired in 2002. He is currently 79 years old and continues to write articles and book chapters. He also continues to constantly review and expand his personality theories.
An alternative theory to the Big Five
Zuckerman’s personality theory emerged as a alternative to the five main personality factors model, Also known as “Big Five” and “Ocean,” originally developed by McCrae and Costa. This author’s main criticism in the Big Five is the presence of cultural factors, in particular the dimension Openness to experience.
Instead, Zuckerman’s theory it focuses on the biological dimensions of the personality. In this sense, the influence of Hans Eysenck’s PEN model is very noticeable, which defines three main personality factors with a clear biological basis: psychoticism, extraversion and neuroticism.
Zuckerman and his collaborators developed this theory using various psychobiological tests, including the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) and Zuckerman’s own Sensation Research Scale, and submitting the results to factor analysis in order to identify the dimensions of higher order personality.
The 5 personality factors
The work of Zuckerman’s team concluded with the detection of a variable number of personality factors, between 3 and 7. They decided that the 5-dimensional grouping was the most balanced in terms of specificity and parsimony. .
Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire is used to measure these traits.
1. Impulsivity – Search for sensations
Sensation seeking includes the urge to experience new emotions and situations, as well as the tendency to take risks in different areas of life. Impulsivity and the psychoticism factor Eysenck would also be included in this dimension, which has been linked to changes in testosterone, dopamine and serotonin levels.
The sociability factor is very similar to the extraversion of the Eysenck model and the Big Five. The Zuckerman questionnaire items that weigh in this dimension measure aspects such as a taste for interaction in large groups of people or an aversion to loneliness.
Zuckerman’s neuroticism is equivalent to that described by Eysenck, which concerns the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and the fight-or-flight reactions triggered by stress. Neurotic people usually experience feelings of fear, obsessive ruminating, indecision, or sensitivity to criticism.
This factor is associated with anger, aggression, impatience, rudeness and antisocial behavior. It is inversely correlated with the Pleasure dimension of the five main personality factors model.
People with high activity scores feel restless when they have nothing to do, have a lot of energy, and tend to be persistent. outraged they often prefer to do activities that involve a challenge or that require a high level of effort.
In the Eysenck model, this factor is included in extraversion, which depends on the level of cerebral alert (or arousal). according to Eysenck outgoing people have chronically low activation levelsThey therefore need a greater degree of environmental stimulation than introverts to feel good.
Validity of the Zuckerman model
Personality models are generally considered to be composed of five independent factors, which are common, they are very useful for exploring the personalityBecause they encompass a lot of different facets without going overboard in terms of the amount of information.
However, Zuckerman’s model it includes overlapping factors, According to some reviews. This fact is particularly marked in the Activity and Extraversion dimensions; however, the authors advocate a separation between the two factors in order to report sociability and activity level separately.
Anyway, Zuckerman’s team work has been replicated in different populations and has shown its ability to predict facets such as novelty seeking, psychopathy, reward addiction, self-direction, damage avoidance or cooperation.
In contrast, factor analyzes clearly revealed the existence of the Aperture to Experience factor, the absence being the main difference between Zuckerman’s proposition and the Big Five. In this model, it would be diluted in the other factors, in particular Sensation Search.