Safety management of the sexes

  • motives for safety and excitement interact with each other
  • as long as security needs are not covered, it remains the focus
  • if the need for safety is covered → the desire for arousal grows
  • person of trust fills the need for security (often mommy)
  • consequence for mom: she must not be gone, but present, she is not particularly interesting
Overview of topics:
Security versus discovering
Rationality versus exuberance

Security versus discovering

safety vs new - Happy Jona

Experiment by Goldberg & Lewis

In 1969 Goldberg & Lewis investigated how children accompanied by a caregiver explore an unknown space. The observers found that all children returned to the person they trusted at regular intervals. In addition, the researchers were interested in whether there were differences in the behaviour of the sexes and found what they were looking for. Girls stayed closer to the person they trusted, but returned to her less often, while boys moved further away, but returned more frequently.

After a while, the team placed a barrier between the children and their confidant. Girls cried more often, while boys more likely tried to help themselves. Therefore, they also became aggressive. These results initially indicated that boys have a higher tolerance for agitation. Boys dare to go further away, but then suddenly reach their limits. If this tolerance is exceeded, they suddenly suffer emotional breakdowns. As a result, they were much more worried1.

The girls‘ safety management seems to be much more stable. They don’t let themselves be thrown off track as much and calm down more quickly. They can cope better with separations. Older girls have a more pronounced need for social closeness. They seek closer physical contact with girlfriends and need more confirmation.

During puberty, there is a feeling of weariness and the need to distance oneself from the parents and a desire to get to know new things. Since children don’t dare to be alone, friends play an important role in the separation from parents.

Somewhat ungrateful role

The two motives of safety and excitement interact with each other. The need for security is a basic motive as we know it from the Maslow pyramid. As long as children feel below the minimum of their safety level, this is their focus and they cry. But when the need for safety is met, their desire for excitement increases and strange objects have a fascinating effect.

The trust person (often mommy) is the main confidant and serves to cover the child´s need for security. However, she also embodies less excitement value. Thus mom is in a seemingly ungrateful situation. She cannot be away, because then the the security level of the child would drop below minimum. On the other hand, when mom is near, safety level is filled up, but since mom does not represent excitement, she is not very interesting. For many children, daddy is rather a source of excitement, yet so familiar that they don’t need to be afraid.

Rationality versus exuberance

„Fly with this new spaceship to explore the universe“ was the task for the lucky test subjects. Unfortunately the spaceship was only a simulator. Researchers measured the average distance with which the participants moved away from earth. At the end, the behavior distinguished between 4 flight types:

  • anxious: close to the earth and keeping view of the earth
  • reasonable: stayed nearby, but did not need the earth in the field of view
  • exuberant: went out into space and then noticed that they missed the earth and returned to seek it
  • cold-blooded: above average distance, hardly turns around
safetymanagement age and gender - Happy Jona
The 4 flight types by age and sex

In their evaluation, researchers found that anxiety and cold-bloodedness were dependent on age only. With increasing age (within the age range of the candidates from 10 to 33 years) the proportion of anxious test subjects decreases and the proportion of cold-blooded test subjects increases. On the other hand, they found a gender effect on the dimension from reason to exuberance. According to this, women tend to adopt a sensible strategy and men an exuberant one.

Men are more willing to take risks and experience the danger itself more as a fascination. Their willingness to accept their own harm is significantly higher than that of women. This tendency is also reflected in figures such as a higher accident rate. For example, boys drown four times more often than girls. Already in childhood boys show a higher affinity to risky behaviour. Mothers often give up and tend to accept such behaviour in boys, which further socializes the innate difference2.

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What are we looking for in partnerships? Have different gender dispositions prevailed? » Learn everything now!

partnership - Happy Jona


  1. Goldberg & Lewis 1969 sowie Maccoby und Jacklin nach Bischof-Köhler 2006, S. 258
  2. Bischof-Köhler 2006, S. 265

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