Take a short walk off a tall tower

What induces people to throw themselves off giant structures or strap themselves into rockets bound for the stratosphere?  As Wency Leung discovered, a thrill-seeking, Type T personality helps.  So, too, does a brush with mortality.  What makes certain activities terrifying and others merely exciting?  Why do some people thrive on hair-raising experiences, like spending their vacations white-water rafting or rocketing into the cosmos, while others are perfectly content staying home?  The answer may depend on one’s T Type, according to psychology professor Frank Farley of Philadelphia’s Temple University.

Dr. Farley coined the term “Type T” in the 1980s to describe thrill-seeking personalities.  Over the years, he has travelled the world studying climbers of Mount Everest, car racers, high-stakes gamblers, commodities traders and all kinds of risk-takers.  Not all are adrenalin junkies, he discovered.  But to varying degrees, they all share Type T traits, including a need for excitement and stimulation and a high tolerance for uncertainty.  Type T’s are motivated by novelty, variety and intense experiences, and they tend to feel self-confident and in control of their own fate.  They are also generally creative, innovative and energetic.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are what he calls lower-case t-types, those who are averse to risk and require a high degree of stability and security.

“Most people are neither small-t nor big-T: they’re in the broad middle range,”  Dr. Farley says.  “If the whole world were nothing but big T’s, there would be total chaos.”

(Note from Petey – I am – without a shadow of a doubt, a classic Type T —–how about you?)

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