Novelty seeking and reward: Implications for the study of high-risk behaviors

Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Novelty seeking and sensation seeking are constructs useful in predicting human risk-taking behaviors. This predictive relation purportedly reflects some rewarding aspect of experiencing novelty. Research has confirmed this assumption. Rats display an increase in preference for an environment that has been differentially paired with novel stimuli. The physiological mechanisms mediating this rewarding effect of novelty involve the neurotransmitter dopamine, whereas those controlling novelty seeking do not. The mechanisms involved in drug seeking and reward show parallel dissociations. This concordance between novelty and drug-abuse research suggests that novelty and drug stimuli may interact in biologically and behaviorally meaningful ways. Indeed, preliminary research examining cocaine and novelty and published work with amphetamines support this suggestion. There is clear need for further systematic research on novelty reward and related processes at all levels of analysis: genetic, biological, behavioral, and social.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2001


  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine
  • Drug abuse
  • Sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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