Attention seeking behavior is to act in a way that is likely to elicit attention. Attention seeking behavior is defined in the DSM-5 as engaging in behavior designed to attract notice and to make oneself the focus of others’ attention and admiration. This definition does not ascribe a motivation to the behavior and assumes a human actor. People are thought to engage in both positive and negative attention seeking behavior independent of the actual benefit or harm to health. Motivations for attention seeking are considered to be driven by self-consciousness and thus an externalization of personality rather than internal and self-motivated behavior. This type of influence on behavior can result in a potential loss of a person's sense of agency, personality disorder and the behavior associated with these conditions.

Enjoying the attention of others is socially acceptable in some situations. However, an excessive need for attention can lead to difficulties in interpersonal relationships. However, as a tactical method, it is often used in combat, theatre (upstaging) and it is fundamental to marketing. One strategy used to counter various types of attention-seeking behavior is tactical ignoring.

Mental Disorders in Psychology and Psychiatry

The causes of attention seeking behavior are varied. Risk factors leading to attention seeking behavior include loneliness, jealousy, low self-esteem, narcissism and self-pity. A desire for validation is theorized as a motivation for attention seeking behavior.

Repeated attention seeking behavior is a symptom of multiple personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder. However, for borderline personality disorder, attention seeking is more often used as a stigmatizing label than as an accurate clinical description. Attention seeking may have similar presentations to ADHD although they are distinguishable by motivations of impulsivity or hyperactivity.

Psychoanalytic theory posits that narcissism is related to attention seeking behavior. In the theory, an excessive need for attention or admiration is termed narcissistic supply.

Use in Organized Gang Stalking

Attention is a core part of Organized Gang Stalking and Harassment. Gang Stalking involves letting the targeted individual know that they are being stalked, followed, and watched by numerous people and on a 24-hour basis. Thus, the gang stalkers seek the attention of the targeted individual. Also, in order to be harassed, the person being harassed must be aware of the harassing stimuli.

Attention seeking is also at the core of the gang stalking tactic of sensitizing.


Frothingham, S. (2020, Feb 28). What You Should Know About Attention-Seeking Behavior in Adults. Retrieved from HealthLine: