We're Adventurous, But Not Really

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You crave three months in Alaska armed with an ice axe, crampons and bare wits. But, most likely, you'll end up skiing with your parents at Vail. There's a reason for this adventure fantasy/vacation reality disconnect. And it's not just because you have no idea how to summit Denali. (Though that is a valid reason for dissuading you as any.) No, the reason why you want to be a mountaineer but, at heart, are more vacationer has a lot to do with, drum-roll, brain data.

Cue Science: "A lot of the people we tested said that they like to go on holidays to do adrenalin sports," says Dr Jack Lewis, neuroscientist at the head of this first study into the psychology of travel, speaking with the Independent. "But it seems they say this largely because they want to be seen as 'that' kind of person. When we looked into their brain data, however, it revealed that they were far more drawn to laidback and pedestrian activities."

This is the conclusion of a British survey that confirmed that--while many participants self-report enjoying "mind-expanding activities" as vacation adventures--this ideal doesn't actually hold true when hand-picked participants underwent follow up electroencephalography (EEG) tests. Lewis's research team measured electrical activity in the brain when a participant was shown holiday scenarios (varieties of "a golden beach, an underwater dive, a bustling night market, a heaving night club").

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The majority of participants, even those who considered themselves thrill-seeking extroverts, were more engaged by the more relaxing vacation imagery ("swimming pools and galleries"). So what gives? "We all have an ideal of what we are into, but it doesn't necessarily satisfy our true needs. A lot of extroverts who say they like adrenalin sports, for example, haven't done anything remotely adrenalin-like for years. They'd like to do so again, but when they arrive on holiday, they very rarely leave the beach," explains Lewis.

You may book your death-defying, protest trip here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.