Understanding Risk Takers

Get Down Off Your Unicorns You Madmen!

What attracts a person to be an extreme sport/adventure enthusiast? It goes against all human understanding that we don’t do things outside of our level of comfort as it is viewed as “risk-taking.” Is one certifiably off their rocker to jump out of a moving airplane?

Understanding the Consummate Rush

The stereotypical risk taker is perceived as one that has no regard for their own safety and lacks fear. In contrast, the risk takers are in fact fearful and happen to be emotionally stable. They channel fear differently than someone else might.


Research done in 2014 by Wilderness and Environmental Medicine indicated that some people’s fear never crosses a certain boundary, whereas the thrill seeker taps into their fear. As Red Bull Snow quotes in “Days of My Youth,” “The moment you lose fear, you put yourself in the most dangerous situations.”


Perhaps the “risk takers” see extreme sports/adventure as an escape from the mundane day to day life.

How does Extreme Sports/Adventure Affect the Brain?

The brains of those seeking the “rush” from extreme sports/adventure may have lower levels of dopamine or serotonin. These two neurotransmitters in our brain play a vital role in the makeup of our behavior.


  • Dopamine is responsible for pleasure. This neurotransmitter is the vehicle which delivers the “highs” of life to our brains.
  • Serotonin, however, is a transmitter that regulates our moods and helps with sleep as well as coping with day to day life.

When a person’s level of these two transmitters are imbalanced, they may suffer depression, insomnia, lack of sexual desire and fatigue. Risk takers self-medicate so to speak by going out and partaking in something extreme. The high or rush they experience is the brain releasing dopamine and/or serotonin.


Characteristics of a Risk Taker


  • Active in being at the forefront of making things happen and work as opposed to sitting on the sidelines.
  • Embodies the desire to want to know how things work and fail to accept something at face value. They believe there is always a better way to do something.
  • They place more value on winning than losing.
  • Risk takers love being around other risk takers.
  • Failure is defined as positive for them as they see it as a way to learn.

Famous People who are Risk Takers

Risk taking is not limited to extreme sports/adventure but comes in various forms such as your occupation. Although the inherent danger of investing, stock trading or buying real estate is nothing comparable to a bungee jump, it does provide the rush.


A few people that we are familiar with that experience the rush of extremism or risk taking:

  • Donald Trump – investing
  • Paul Revere – rode to warn that the British were coming
  • Evil Knievel – dangerous stuntman
  • Philippe Petit – tightrope walker between World Trade Center towers in 1974
  • Reed Timmer – storm chaser


Some professions are considered more attractive to those who tend to be risk takers.

  • Firefighters
  • Police Officers
  • Bomb Squad Technician
  • Military Fighter Pilots
  • Sea Fishermen
  • Tiger Trainers
  • Stuntmen

Whether a risk taker or not, we all share the need for contentment. The method of how we find that contentment is what separates the fearless from the fearful.


“All success stems from risk” – Argo Group.

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