The Relationship Between Values and Thrill- and Adventure-Seeking in Israel

ABSTRACT - This exploratory study examines the relationship of personal values with the tendency for thrill and adventure seeking in Israel. The relationship explored in the study is based on sensation-seeking, an individual, trait-based theory. This theory has been used in previous research to explain personal risk-aversion. We find that there is a relationship between personal values and thrill and adventure seeking tendencies. The value profiles of thrill-avoiding and thrill-seeking individuals are presented, analyzed, and discussed. Managerial and research implications are also presented.


Aviv Shoham, Bella Florenthal, Fredric Kropp, and Gregory M. Rose (1998) ,"The Relationship Between Values and Thrill- and Adventure-Seeking in Israel", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Basil G. Englis and Anna Olofsson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 333-338.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 333-338


Aviv Shoham, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel

Bella Florenthal, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel

Fredric Kropp, University of Oregon, U.S.A.

Gregory M. Rose, University of Mississippi, U.S.A.

[Acknowledgement: This research was supported by the VPR fund for the promotion of research at the Technion.]


This exploratory study examines the relationship of personal values with the tendency for thrill and adventure seeking in Israel. The relationship explored in the study is based on sensation-seeking, an individual, trait-based theory. This theory has been used in previous research to explain personal risk-aversion. We find that there is a relationship between personal values and thrill and adventure seeking tendencies. The value profiles of thrill-avoiding and thrill-seeking individuals are presented, analyzed, and discussed. Managerial and research implications are also presented.

Risk-taking behavior has been of interest to psychologists (e.g., Apter 1976; Zuckerman 1974) and to consumer behavior scholars (e.g., Raju 1980; Whalers, Dunn, and Etzel 1986; Wahlers and Etzel 1990) for many years. Surprisingly, this high level of research attention has left a number of knowledge gaps. For example, antecedents of risk-taking behavior have been relatively under-studied. For this purpose, we shall introduce values as important antecedents of risk-taking tendences.

Personal values are desirable and stable end-states (Kahle 1983; Rokeach 1973). Values influence a wide variety of attitudes as well as behaviors (Beatty and Kahle 1988; Beatty, Kahle, Utsey, and Keown 1993; Homer and Kahle 1988). We propose that thrill- and adventure-seeking tendency, an antecedent of risk-taking behavior, is partially determined by individuals’ personal values. We report on the findings of an exploratory study, designed to assess this relationship between values and thrill- and adventure-seeking. Findings from this research provide some empirical support to the research proposition.


Personal Values

Personal values form a set of beliefs about preferable modes of behavior and end-states at the individual’s level. These beliefs shape attitudes and behaviors (Rokeach 1973). Rokeach operationalized the behavioral modes of behaviors with 18 instrumental values. End-states were operationalized with a second set of 18 terminal values. Both sets of values can be ordered by importance to the individual, from the most to the least important (Rokeach 1973).

Kahle and associates developed an alternative approach to the approach used by Rokeach (Beatty, Kahle, Homer, and Misra 1985; Homer and Kahle 1988; Kahle 1973, 1996; Kahle, Beatty, and Homer 1986). This alternative approach, widely known as the List of Values (LOV), has two theoretical bases. Both Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory (1954) and social adaptation theory (Kahle 1983, 1996) underlie the list of values.

We shall provide a more thorough discussion about the list of values and its application to thrill- and adventure-seeking at the proposition development section of the article. At this stage, we note that the list of values focuses on personal values, and includes nine values: 1) sense of belonging; 2) fun and enjoyment in life; 3) warm relationships with others; 4) self-fulfillment; 5) being well respected; 6) excitement; 7) security; 8) self respect; and 9) sense of accomplishment. Recently, Richins and Dawson (1992) used the LOV in their "orientation for materialism" scale development paper. While they use the nine values to provide evidence of validity to their materialism scale, their findings also support the validity of LOV. In short, they find that high-materialism respondents were more likely to value security and less likely to value warm relationships with others and sense of accomplishment. This pattern of expected findings provides substantial support to the validity of LOV.

Acceptable psychometric properties of the list of values have been documented empirically by Beatty et. al. (1985). These properties have also been documented in cross-cultural settings (Beatty et. al. 1993; Kahle, Beatty, and Homer 1989; Grunert, Grunert, and Beatty 1989). Having established the importance and viability of personal values in different cultures, we turn to risk-taking behavior.

Antecedents of Risk-Taking Behavior

Two theoretical approaches have dominated in previous studies of risky behavior. The firstBASensation Seeking"is a trait-based theory. Under this theory, risk-taking behavior arises from individuals’ need for sensation (Zuckerman 1974). The secondBATelic Dominance"is a state-based theory. The arguments of telic dominance posit risky behavior as an outcome of individuals’ state at any given time (Apter 1976; Kerr 1991; Murgatroyd, Rushton, Apter, and Ray 1978). In this study, we use sensation seeking theory, the approach popularized by Zuckerman (1974) and Zuckerman, Buchsbaum, and Murphy (1980).

Sensation seeking theory is based on the varying levels of need for thrills, adventures, and novelty. Such needs can be saisfied by risky activities and experiences (Zuckerman 1979, 1983a, 1983b, 1984; Zuckerman, Kolin, Price, and Zoob 1964). Earlier, we suggested that sensation seeking is a trait-based theory. This is due to the supposition that different individuals have varying levels of need for sensation. Furthermore, an individual’s level of need is stable and tends to change slowly. Zuckerman’s latest operationalization of sensation seeking (form V; 1979) includes four sub-dimensions: 1) boredom susceptibility (BS); 2) disinhibition (DIS); 3) experience seeking (ES); and 4) thrill and adventure seeking (TAS).

The psychometric properties of the scale have been examined in consumer marketing research (Wahlers, Dunn, and Etzel 1986; Whalers and Etzel 1990). The scale exhibited acceptable reliability and convergent validity. Substantively, sensation seeking has been linked to risk-taking behavior (Burns, Hampson, Severson, and Slovic 1993; Severson, Slovic, and Hampson 1993; see Zuckerman, Buchsbaum, and Murphy 1980 for a review), such as drug use, smoking, and consumption of high-risk sports.

Sensation seeking has been used in marketing studies, most notably in the study of optimal stimulation levels (OSL). It has been reported that the higher an individual’s deficiency (or surplus) of stimulation the stronger the action that the individual will take to increase (decrease) the level of stimulation in one’s environment (Raju 1980; Wahlers and Etzel 1990). However, the role of sensation seeking in determining risk-taking behavior has not been adequately explained. Additionally, with one exception (Shoham, Kropp, Rose, and Kahle 1996), the impact of values on sensation seeking tendencies has not been examined.

Values and Sensation Seeking

As noted previously, values are stable, enduring, and desirable end-states (Kahle 1983). In a recent review of research of values, Kahle (1996, p. 135) notes: "Values are the most abstract type of social cognition that people use to store and guide general responses to classes of stimuli." According to their underlying, social adaptation theory, value development summarizes an individual’s previous experiences as well as provides ground rules for dealing with a variety of new situations (Kahle 1996).

Values shape and influence behaviors in a variety of situations (Rokeach 1973). Values have been documented empirically to affect behaviors in domains such as gift giving (Beatty et al. 1986; Beatty et al. 1993), fashion items (Goldsmith, Heitmeyer, and Freiden 1991; Rose et al. 1994), cynicism (Boush, Kim, Kahle, and Batra 1993), shopping, spending, nutrition attitudes (Homer and Kahle 1988), social normative influences (Kahle 1995; Kahle and Shoham 1995), natural food choice (Homer and Kahle 1988), and salespeople’s efforts (Weeks and Kahle 1990).

How is it possible that values have been used to explain and predict attitudes and behaviors within so many situations and contexts? It has been noted that the importance of values is due to the fact that they provide an abstract set of behavior-guiding principles (Rose et al. 1994; Williams 1979). As noted, Kahle (1983) used social adaptation theory to develop the list of values. Kahle and associates see values (Homer and Kahle 1988, p. 638; Kahle 1983) as adaptation abstractions that emerge "...from the assimilation, accommodation, organization, and integration of environmental information in order to promote interchanges with the environment favorable to the preservation of optimal functioning." Because they are the most abstract social cognitions, values reflect the most basic adaptation characteristics. Thus, they serve as building blocks from which both attitudes and behaviors are made.

Because of their role as abstractions of cognitions, values guide individuals’ choice of which situations to enter and which to avoid (Kahle 1980). They also provide behavioral guidelines in situations entered. The theoretical argument is that the flow is from the most to the least abstract (Homer and ahle 1988; Rose et al. 1994): Values┬Žattitude┬Žbehavior. This flow will hold in all behavioral domains because values, being the most basic building blocks, are used as criteria for judgment-, preference-, and choice-formation (Williams 1979).

Empirically, values affect risk-taking behaviors in the context of smoking (Grube, Weir, Getzlaf, and Rokeach 1984) and cheating on exams (Hensehl 1971). The choice to enter risky situations, such as smoking and cheating, was explained in these studies by different value sets held by individuals.

Notably, Arnould and Price (1993, p. 24) describe the experience of river rafting in terms of "personal growth" and "self-renewal". Early on, inexperienced customers, in pre-trip processes, emphasize a general desire for safety and security (one of the values in LOV). Then, rafters emphasize what Arnould and Price (1993, p. 34) call "communitas"feelings of communion with friends, relatives, and strangers, somewhat similar to LOV’s sense of belonging and warm relationships with others. Finally, during the trip, rafters develop a sense of personal growth and renewal of self, closely resembling LOV’s emphasis on self-respect and sense of accomplishment.

Based on the theory and empirical findings discussed, it appears that values affect both attitudes and behaviors. Thus, the proposition underlying this research (P) is:

P: There is a relationship between the importance of personal values and between thrill- and adventure-seeking tendencies.

The paucity of research about the impact of values on thrill- and adventure-seeking made it impossible to develop research hypotheses about the relationships between specific values and thrill- and adventure-seeking tendencies. Therefore, we elected to not form such hypotheses. Consequently, the results discussed in the "Findings" section of this article should be viewed as preliminary and should serve to develop research hypotheses in future research.


Overview and Sample Characteristics

Data were collected in a survey of the Israeli students in a mid-sized, northern university. Respondents were recruited in two classes. The students were told that they were selected to participate in a study of risky sport activities. Students were used because it was expected that they may exhibit higher risk-taking tendencies than the general population. As the main interest here is on the relationship between values and thrill- and adventure-seeking, the sample was well-suited for this major interest.

The sample includes 38 students. Of these, 23 were males (60.5%) and 15 were females (39.5%). This imbalance is due to the engineering nature of the classes, in which there were more males than females. The youngest student was 20 years old and the oldest 38 (Mean=25.0, s.d.=4.4).

We made a request of the students to participate in the study towards the end of the class period. Students who declined to participate were allowed to leave at that time. Questionnaires were handed out to all students who stayed. Of the total number of 38 questionnaires, 38 students agreed to participate and provided complete questionnaires. The analyses discussed below are based on this final sample size of 38. Given an effective response rate of 100.0%, it is believed that non-response bias is not a major problem in this research.

Development of Measures

The questionnaire included numerous questions; however, only the questions that pertain to this paper are discussed below. The items in the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS), of which Thrill- and Adventure-Seeking is a sub-scale, were developed originally in English. The items in the List of Values (LOV) were similarly developed in English. The items in the two sets of measures were translated from English to Hebrew by one bilingual individual. They were then back-translated to English by a second bilingual individual. The two English versions (the original and the back-translated) were compared by a third bilingual individual. Changes were made by consultation of the three individuals.

Version V of the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS) was developed by Zuckerman and his associates (Zuckerman 1971, 1983a, 1983b, 1984; Zuckerman, Buchsbaum, and Murphy 1980; Zuckerman et al. 1964; Zuckerman et al. 1980). The latest version of the scale includes forty items, ten for each sub-dimension : Boredom Susceptibility (BS), Disinhibition (DIS), Experience Seeking (ES), and Thrill and Adventure Seeking (TAS). Each item is scored zero (for the non-sensation-seeking answer) or one (for the sensation-seeking answer). Previous research established the re-test reliability of the scale at 0.87-0.94 after three weeks and at 0.75 after eight months (Zuckerman et al. 1980).



Results and Test of Research Proposition

Since our interest in this study centers on thrill- and adventure-seeking, only the ten items in this sub-dimension of the SSS was used. The items showed satisfactory levels of reliability in this preliminary study (aTAS=0.57). Consequently, we formed an averaged scale for thrill- and adventure-seeking. Values on the scale varied between a minimum of 0.10 and a maximum value of 1.00, averaging 0.55 (s.d.=0.22).

Table 1 lists sample means for the nine LOV values. The table is set up such that it provides the means for the complete sample, as well as for the sub-samples (discussed below).

Our interest here is on the relationship between the nine LOV values and thrill- and adventure-seeking. Therefore, the sample was split into three equal-sized groups on the basis of scores on the averaged scale of thrill- and adventure-seeking. The closest we could come to equal-size sub-samples was nine individuals in the low thrill- and adventure-seeking sub-group (scoring between 0.1 and 0.4 on the averaged scale), 17 in the medium sub-group (between 0.5 and 0.6 on the averaged scale), and nine in the high thrill- and adventure-seeking sub-group (scoring at least 0.7 on the averaged scale). For the purpose of subsequent analyses, the means of the two extreme sub-groups were compared and evaluated. We note here that this decision resulted in small sub-sample sizes for the analyses reported and discussed hereunder. However, we believe that the use of small samples reduces the probability of finding significant differences. Thus, the tests below probably err on the conservative side. Obviously, this assertion requires reasonable standard errors (in the face of skewed distributions). As shown in Table 1, standard deviations are indeed of reasonable size (ranging between 0.65 and 2.00 for 9-point scales). Furthermore, we also assessed the correlation coefficients for the full sample and note that this more conservative test yielded one significant (fun and enjoyment) and one marginally significant (warm relationships with others) that are similar to the ones discussed below.

Examination of the data in Table 1 suggests several conclusions. First, of the nine values, self-fulfillment was the most important for the complete sample, on average (Mean=8.38, s.d.=0.89). The least important for the complete sample, on average, was excitement (Mean=7.19, s.d.=1.67).

Notably, even for less important values in the LOV, distributions of responses were skewed and exceeded 7.0 on nine-point scales. This high level f skewness was also observed in previous applications of LOV (e.g., Shoham, Kropp, Rose, and Kahle 1996). Even in the face of highly skewed distributions of the nine values, three LOV values differed significantly (p<0.05) between the sub-groups with low and high scores on the thrill- and adventure-seeking scale. These differences support the research proposition (P) and are discussed next.

The first value on which significant differences were observed was "warm relationships with others". The mean for thrill-seeking respondents was higher than for thrill-avoiders (Mean low-thrill-seeking=7.78, s.d.=1.09; Mean high-thrill-seeking=8.58, s.d.=0.67; p<0.05). We shall elaborate on this and other findings in the "discussion" section below.

The two sub-groups also differed on the averaged importance of "fun and enjoyment". Here, too, high-thrill-seeking individuals scored the importance of this value higher than low-thrill-seeking individuals (Mean low-thrill-seeking=7.22, s.d.=1.48; Mean high-thrill-seeking=8.25, s.d.=0.75; p<0.05).

"Self respect" was the third and final value on which significant differences were observed in our study. The difference was identical to the previous two in that the higher the thrill- and adventure-seeking tendency, the higher the importance assigned to "self respect" (Mean low-thrill-seeking=7.89, s.d.=1.05; Mean high-thrill-seeking=8.67, s.d.=0.65; p<0.05).

The differences between the two sub-groups on the other six values in the LOV failed to reach significance. The only other value approaching the traditional level of statistical significance (0.05) was "security". The mean importance of this value was marginally more important to high thrill-seeking individuals than to low thrill-seeking ones (Mean low-thrill-seeking=7.00, s.d.=2.00; Mean high-thrill-seeking=8.17, s.d.=1.19; p<0.11).



Before an attempt is made to analyze the findings, it is worthwhile to note some limitations of this research. These limitations imply that the findings should be viewed with caution. Some of the limitations are also useful in pointing out potentially fruitful directions for future research.

The question of generalizability arises when samples are used. The sample in this research included 38 Israeli individuals. Two questions are raised by the use of this specific sample. First, does the sample represent other Israeli students? Second, are the findings reported here generalizeable to non-student populations in the country?

Regarding the first question, we have no reason to believe that the students in this Northern Israel campus are different than students in any other campus in Israel, at least with regards to the variables under study. Zuckerman’s work suggests that young adults tend to be more sensation-seeking than older individuals. The students at this campus start their undergraduate programs at the same age as in all other Israeli universities. Students in this university differ in that their undergraduate programs last four, rather than three years as in other Israeli universities. However, we used third-year students, so, on the average, we expect the sample used in our study to be similar in age to comparable samples in other universities.

Concerning the second questionBgeneralizing to non-student population in IsraelBthe issue is more complex. We believe that using the sample of students was justified and that the results, while preliminary, can be generalized to other Israeli individuals. As noted previously, we elected to use students because it was believed, a-priori, that they will provide higher thrill- and adventure-seeing scores than the general populations. Such scores were needed to provide us with sufficient variability on this scale to test the research proposition. Using larger, more diverse age-based samples should not harm the findings reported here. However, the use of larger samples may help identify more value differences between low- and high-thrill-seeking individuals than was possible with our smaller sample. This remains a task for future research.

Finally, six of the nine LOV values did not differ significantly between the two thrill- and adventure-seeking sub-groups. We believe that our small sample size is a major reason for the limited support provided to the research proposition. Future research with larger sample sizes would make it possible to assess how damaging (in the statistical significance sense) the relatively small sample size may have been to identifying more sub-group differences in value importance.


Earlier, it was noted that thrill-seeking respondents scored higher than for thrill-avoiders on the importance of three values: "warm relationships with others"; "fun and enjoyment"; and "self respect". These three significant differences provided some support to the research proposition. In this section of the article, we provide plausible explanations to the significant differences observed. These explanations will draw heavily on Beatty and Talpade’s paper (1989) about common synonyms associated with the nine LOV values. We also draw on the work of Arnould and Price (1993), Celsi (1992), Celsi, Rose, and Leigh (1993), Price, Arnould, and Tierney (1995), and Shoham, Rose, and Kahle (1996) in the context of risky sports, such as white-water rafting and skydiving. These papers provided us with a starting point for the analysis of risk-taking behavior in the context of high-risk sports. Finally, Shoham, Rose, and Kahle (1996) suggest four factors that affect individuals’ decision to practice risky sports: thrill, curiosity, adventure, and social standing enhancement. These four benefits of risky sports, in combination with the synonyms documented by Beatty and Talpade (1989) form the basis of the discussion that follows.

The most common synonyms associated with the value of "warm relationships with others" were friendship, love, and closeness (Beatty and Talpade 1989). This value is laden with meanings that are derived from individuals’ social reference groups. In fact, "warm relationships with others" has been a part of what has been called "external values" (Homer and Kahle 1988) or "social values" (Rose et al. 1994). Coupled with the expected benefit of social enhancement, it is not surprising that the relationship between the importance of warm relationships with others and thrill- and adventure-seeking was positive, as observed here.

"Fun and enjoyment" is associated with the synonyms happiness, excitement, carefree, danger, thrill, and adventure (Beatty and Talpade 1989). The differences on "fun and enjoyment" are predicated on three dimensions underlying the practice of risky sports: curiosity satisfying, adventurous, and thrilling experiences (Celsi 1992; Celsi et al. 1993). Coupling the synonyms discussed above with these benefits that underlie the consumption of risky sports (Celsi et al. 1993), the importance of "fun and enjoyment" would be expected to be related with thrill- and adventure-seeking tendencies positively, as we found here.

An explanation of the third difference in the importance of "self respect" is based on what Celsi and his associates (Celsi 1992; Celsi et al. 1993) call the need for efficacy and identity construction. They suggest that these needs motivate individuals to continue practicing risky sports. Beatty and Talpade’s list of synonyms (1989) suggests that "self-respect" is associated with the two motivating needs identified by Celsi et al. (1993): self-pride, self-love, happiness with self (identty construction), and knowing how good individuals are at what they do (efficacy). Consequently, it makes sense that the relationship between the importance of self-respect and thrill- and adventure-seeking is positive.

Summary and Implications

We developed a general research proposition to examine the relationship between the nine values in the LOV and thrill- and adventure-seeking. Three of the relationships were significant at the 0.05 p-value level. In all three cases, we explained why the directional relationship was consistent with previous research.

There was a direct relationship between thrill- and adventure-seeking and the importance of "fun and enjoyment". It is intuitively appealing to expect people that value fun and enjoyment to be innovators or early adopters. They may well be the type of people described by Shoham et al. (1996) as break-away-from-the-pack types, who tend to take and accept risks.

A direct relationship between the importance of "warm relationships with others" and thrill- and adventure-seeking tendencies was evident in our research. Synonyms associated with this value include friendship, love, and closeness (Beatty and Talpade 1989), meanings that are derived from one’s social reference groups. Coupled with the expected benefit of social enhancement in risk-taking activities, such as risky sport, the direct relationship between the importance of warm relationships with others and thrill- and adventure-seeking is intuitive.

Finally, we find a direct relationship between the importance of "self respect" and thrill- and adventure-seeking. Earlier, we based our explanation for this finding on individuals’ need for efficacy and identity construction (Celsi 1992; Celsi et al. 1993). Self-respect is linked with synonyms (Beatty and Talpade 1989) such as self-pride, self-love, happiness with self (identity construction), and knowing how good individuals are at what they do (efficacy). Thus, the direct relationship between the importance of self-respect and thrill- and adventure-seeking may well be intuitive.

In sum, while preliminary, the results of this study provide some support to the proposition guiding this research. Indeed, the importance of values does seem to affect one major dimension of risky behaviorBthrill- and adventure-seeking. We believe that this relationship needs to be explored further. In light of the sample used (size and composition), future research employing larger samples is needed. Additionally, while our choice of a homogeneous sample of young adults was necessary, as explained before, the use of more heterogeneous samples may enhance the confidence in the generalizability of the findings to other consumers in Israel. Finally, replications of the study in other countries may provide much needed support to the generalizability of the findings to other countries.

The relationships identified in this study have important practical implications for marketing managers in risk-taking industries, such as the risky sport industry. The three values identified should be used and emphasized. Advertising copy should stress the values of "fun and enjoyment" "self respect", and "warm relationships with others". Graphical elements of promotional materials can also help carry these messages. For example, a photograph may be used, in which a risky sport, say mountain climbing, is practiced within a group of climbers. This photograph would then build on the direct relationship identified here between "warm relationships with others" and thrill- and adventure-seeking. Presenting the risky activity as a "fun" thing to do would serve a similar purpose.

Marketers can also build on the importance of "fun and enjoyment" when designing distribution channels (Shoham et al. 1996). For example, people may view the World-Wide-Web as a "fun" shopping environment. Coupled with the higher risk associated with Web purchases, at least at the resent time, would suggest that making high-riskproducts available on the Web may well be a profitable practice.


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Aviv Shoham, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel
Bella Florenthal, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel
Fredric Kropp, University of Oregon, U.S.A.
Gregory M. Rose, University of Mississippi, U.S.A.,


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998

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