Why do people seek security


Whether a person is more willing to change or loves stability is a personality criterion that has also found its way into the vast majority of models. The only differences are the terms used for this characteristic, which express different nuances. The corresponding personality factor in the “Big Five” is: openness to new things. Instead of the term “change”, “diversity” or “spontaneity” is also used. Instead of “stability”, some also speak of “security”, “durability” or “structural orientation” to describe this property.


The pole of change stands for people who are curious, spontaneous, flexible, willing to take risks, adaptable and versatile, creative, original and imaginative. They are often hungry for new experiences and discoveries and tend to be artistic. Depending on the precise definition of this personality trait, some models overlap with the property of extraversion, since both criteria are linked to an active lifestyle.


In contrast, people who love security and stability are controlled, organized, consistent and more conventional. They are usually purposeful and love a systematic approach, rules, order and habits. On the other hand, their creativity and artistic streak are often rather underdeveloped. This criterion is also close to the definition of introverted persons. Both tend to be passive. Those who love stability can, however, appear openly and self-confidently when achieving goals or implementing their plans. The prerequisite, however, is that he moves in areas in which he feels sufficiently competent and that he is not extremely introverted.


In his psychology classic “Basic Forms of Fear” (1961), Fritz Riemann brilliantly and comprehensibly describes the ambivalence of people between on the one hand the pursuit of duration, consistency and reliability and on the other hand the need for change and development. According to Riemann, both poles of need contain both the longing for the one and the fear of the opposite. Our desire for stability expresses the fear of uncertainty and change (possibly also of impermanence). In striving for change, on the other hand, we confront our fear of necessity, lack of freedom and finality. In its extreme forms the security fanatic runs the risk of becoming obsessive in his thoughts and actions, while the change addict often pays the price of a fluctuating mood with strong emotional fluctuations. The latter was referred to as "hysteria" until the middle of the 20th century - also in psychiatric terms.


At this point, for the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that the personality trait “conscientiousness” from the “Big Five” (which also stands for thoroughness, discipline, care or self-control) has not found its way into the personality dimensions I have portrayed. In my experience, thoroughness and discipline result from a combination of the two personality poles stability and introversion. In other words: A conscientious lifestyle and task management is particularly noticeable among people who on the one hand are security and structure-loving and on the other hand tend to withdraw rather than expressively approach the outside world.