Risky Behavior


Risky Behavior

John M Oldham and Lois B Morris

July, 2023


Headlines abound these days with reports of risky behavior.  Amazing success stories like the rescue of a moribund climber attempting Mt Everest.  Or tragedies like the deaths of two hikers in 119 degree heat in Big Bend National Park.  Or the days of international suspense searching for the submersible Titan, ultimately lost with 5 aboard.

Of course there are daily reports of tragic loss and miraculous escapes from floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes.  But we’re focusing here on a special breed—the explorers who challenge fate.  Who climbs Mt Everest?  Who hikes in the blistering prairie?  Who crawls into a tiny tube to descend to the deep?  Who signs up to be a Special Forces soldier?  Or maybe, down the road, who trains to be the first astronaut to the planet Mars?

There’s no fixed formula for the DNA of these soldiers of fame and fortune.  Some are sensation-seekers, courting danger for the thrill.  Some are true heroes, plunging into the raging river or the burning building to rescue survivors.  Some are ambitious groundbreakers, driven to blaze new trails.  And some, yes, may have less admirable motivations such as questionable schemes to achieve political or financial goals.  Still, it’s intriguing to wonder if they share certain personality traits.  One thing is certain: they all take big risks.

In terms of NPSP25, what prominent personality styles would we expect to see in the profiles of these high flyers?  For sure, we’d expect to see a large helping of the Adventurous style, plus the Self-Confident style and the Aggressive style.  And perhaps the Vigilant style.  A variety of other styles would complete the picture, varying from one person to another.  Don’t forget—these are normal, healthy styles.  They take risks—fearlessly sky diving, investing big in a promising but shaky start-up, arguing loudly with the boss.  But they maintain good judgment (for the most part!).  A few of these colorful extroverts, however, may be at risk to develop a personality disorder.  Then they lose their perspective.  They may become grandiose and entitled.  Or dismissive of others.  Or contemptuous of social norms.  Then good judgment turns to bad, and success turns to failure.  And that’s when professional help may be needed.