Are You an In-y or an Out-y? Isolation vs. Exploration Following a Move

Scavenger Hunt Your Way to a Stress-Free Move:

Your Tendency to Explore

and Your Level of Relocation Stress


A colleague of ours is fond of recounting the experiences she had on her 10th birthday.  Her parents gave her and her younger brother a map, a packet of train and bus schedules, several dollars in change, and a list of telephone numbers, and dropped them off at the nearest subway.  The gift?  To explore the city they lived in and learn to get around independently, using public transportation.  To this day, our colleague credits her parents’ encouragement to explore her environment as a child, with her current day courage and passion to explore new regions and to travel the globe—frequently by herself.

Can you recall when you first began to explore your environment?  What are your feelings about these memories?  Unfortunately, some people have negative past experiences and have grown hesitant and even fearful about exploring new environments.  Some people, in fact, live in the same area for years—even decades—and never explore their environs.  Such an approach is not only a restrictive way to live (there’s so much out there to experience!) it can also make for an extremely stressful relocation experience…


Following a Move…Exploratory Behavior Should Not Be Limited to the Inside of the Apartment

Tendencies to explore can appear anywhere along a continuum.  Some people tend to  keep their explorations to the basic minimum.  Others see exploring their new environs as an exciting, exhilarating challenge.  These folks tend to quickly uncover all of the hidden treasures, shortcuts, and best shopping usually reserved for long-time locals—some even unknown to people who have lived in the region their entire lives!

So what does our tendency to explore have to do with our health and well-being during the relocation process?  Our research and the findings of other researchers indicate that the more likely a person is to explore their new environment, the better they adapt and the less stress and adverse effects they reportedly experience.  Our research results indicate that people who explored their environment tended to have significantly fewer physical illnesses as well as fewer psychological complaints following a move.  

Why would exploring your new environment help to prevent stress and illness?  The idea is that when people proactively explore their environment it accelerates their adaptation to the new surroundings.  Likewise, those people who do not explore their new environments tend to stay closed off from their communities, taking considerably longer to adapt and fit in.  Prolonging the adaptation process can cause an extended period of being an “outsider”, and leaves valuable resources unknown and therefore unavailable.  In short, low exploration tendencies can cause individuals to remain isolated for longer periods of time, leaving them more vulnerable to stress and the subsequent adverse consequences like physical and emotional illnesses.

Fortunately for both employees and employers, by implementing some basic techniques, helping new hires and transfers expand their current exploratory tendencies, like the other factors that impact who gets sick and who thrives following relocation, is a relatively easy process.