"Cave diving is the only sport activity were death is an absolute result of performance failure," he said. "It mus be done right or there's no tomorrow." With its high-tech equipment and precise set of instructions, cave diving requires someone with a mind-set for details, and many of the people the sport attracts work in technical professions, Murphey said.
"The general population probably believes that most people who cave dive are very brash risk takers who jeopardize their lives for a good time," he said. "But research on cave divers, aerobatic pilots, sky divers and other participants in high risk sports shows that these are serious, professional people who enjoy technical precision."
In the UF study, all nine of the 65 cave divers who died over a 10-year period were extroverts and fit into one of two of the 16 personality types on the Myers-Briggs psychological test. The cave divers took the test at the beginning of the study, which compared personality traits with activity performance.
There are about 3500 trained cave divers in the world today, and about 430 people have died from the sport since record keeping began during the 1960s, Murphey said. Annually, between six and 10 people die cave diving in the United states. Cave diving, like other high risk sports, has become increasingly popular since the 1970s.
"Many people in advanced cultures crave more excitement in their mundane lives than going to work, coming home and watching television," he said. "They seem to want to look back towards the gladiator days when people truly lived on the edge." Some colleges and universities have capitalized on this interest by beginning to offer academic courses in such activities as rock climbing, scuba diving, parachuting, hang gliding, white-water kayaking and cave diving, Murphey said.
Source: The Gainesville Sun