Animals

Why Do We Love Going Fast?

Have humans evolved to have a need for speed?

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Humans are obsessed with going fast. As soon as someone sets a speed record, people start lining up behind them to break it. Is it human nature? In 2009, the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes published a study that found men driving sports cars had elevated testosterone levels compared to guys driving less-speedy sedans. Biologically speaking, driving fast is accompanied by a surge of adrenaline which causes blood pressure and heart rate to jump. Some are more susceptible to this high than others, but the research has shown that in general it hits men harder than women.

The research team behind the 2009 study suggested that men use sports cars as a status symbol as well as a method of "sexual signalling," not unlike how a male peacock will display its feathers to entice a female of the species, however, the study suggested that we're doing it for ourselves. Testosterone plays a role in all this, but so does the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO has been linked with the dopamine receptor dopamine-4; dopamine is a feel-good reward chemicals. People with low-levels of MAO tend to be the ones who seek out the biggest speed rushes. In "The Speed Handbook," author and UC Santa Barbara professor Enda Duffy explores how cars changed the human experience. They made us became averse slowness, he theorizes. Sensation-seeking gives us some of the best natural highs around, but it can also be deadly. In 2010, 31 percent of all driving-related fatalities were due to speeding (and 77 percent of these deaths involved men, further indicating the testosterone connection).

Have you ever gotten a high from driving fast? Let us know if you have the need...the need for speed in the comments down below.

Learn More:

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"What causes people to take risks? It's not just a behavior. It's a personality."