The Breaking Bad Effect: Priming With an Antihero Increases Sensation Seeking

Aulona Ulqinaku*, Gülen Sarial Abi, Elaine L. Kinsella, Eric R. Igou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Antiheroes are characters that share features with both heroes and villains, typified as selfish and rule breakers, but who end up doing something good for society. In this research, we examined how priming people with antiheroes (vs. heroes) affected their sensation seeking. We reason that antiheroes (vs. heroes) are more associated with temporally close (vs. past and future) events. Given that sensation seeking is related to being focused on the present (vs. past or future), we hypothesized that if people are primed with antiheroes (vs. heroes) they are more likely to seek sensation. Findings from a series of five experimental studies provide insights into the effect of priming with an antihero on people’s sensation seeking, providing directions for future research in psychology and practical applications in the areas of marketing strategy and consumer behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)294-315
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Published online: 6. March 2020

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