(Editor’s note: Mind of a Motorhead is a series in which motorsports athletes from various disciplines (such as Supercross’ Malcolm Stewart) will be analyzed according to surveys of their personalities. Series host Dr. Ken Carter, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology at Oxford College of Emory University, writes below on what he learned about Stewart in the latest episode.)
Malcolm Stewart of Haines City, Florida, is one of the top ten Supercross racers in the world, finishing sixth in the 2021 Monster Energy standings for the 450 class. He routinely battles 20 other riders in a juiced-up version of motocross in some of the biggest stadiums across the country.
As our first Supercross guest on NBC Sports’ Mind of a Motorhead series (watch the video above), Stewart spoke with me about his personality both on and off the track. I was surprised to hear Stewart reveal his true feelings behind a central part of his sport — the jumps.
Despite how frightening his sport looks, Stewart says he’s not up to doing frightening things:
“Can’t do scary movies … nope … no airplanes, bungee jumping.”
This reaction to potentially terrifying things isn’t too surprising since Stewart scored relatively low (2 out of 10) on thrill and adventure seeking, a part of a personality questionnaire called the sensation-seeking scale that describes how much a person likes to do frightening things.
Stewart explained: “I’m definitely the type of guy where I love adventure … but when it comes to thrill, there’s is a fine line to that. I’m actually really scared to jump things … but for some reason, I’ll do it.”
So why does he do it? He says the risk is worth the reward.
“There’s definitely a risk to everything,” Stewart said. “But there’s always a reward… If you want to be successful in life, you’ve got to live on the edge.”
While Stewart scored low on thrill-and-adventure seeking, he scored fairly high (8 out of 10) on disinhibition.
Disinhibition is part of the sensation-seeking scale that describes how likely you are to dive into things without thinking them through. Those who score low on disinhibition always look before they leap. Those who score high jump feet first into things and think about consequences later.
“Yeah, that’s probably me,” Stewart said, noting that every now and then he finds himself in a situation that he didn’t expect to be in. “You’re like, ‘Oh man, I really need to dig myself out of the situation. So how can I figure it out?’ Yes, that is definitely 100 percent me.”
Curious about your score on Sensation Seeking? You can take a test at this link or read more about sensation seeking in my book, “Buzz! Inside the Minds of Thrill Seekers, Daredevils and Adrenaline Junkies”.