Neophilia, The Obsession With Novelty

Our culture pushes us more and more to constantly want the latest, newest and most incredible. We live in an age where there is an overabundance of both resources and information. In this context, neophilia (the obsession with novelty) arises, a personality trait that  is gaining more and more importance.

People with this excessive tendency can become obsessed with always having the latest electronic devices, living new experiences or knowing as much information as possible on a subject. Some of his most characteristic behaviors are  nonconformity and the desire to get out of the routine constantly.

Neophilia was a term created and popularized by various authors in the second half of the 20th century. Among them were JD Salinger with his short story Hapworth 16, 1924 (in 1965), and Christopher Booker with a book entitled The Neophiles (in 1969). Since then, its relevance has not stopped growing.

In this article we will study the characteristics of neophilia. Furthermore, we will raise the question of whether it is a problematic trait;  or if, on the contrary, having this quality can be an advantage for those who have it. Let’s go deeper. 

Neophilia characteristics

The obsession with novelty involves a series of traits that usually appear at the same time in people who suffer from it. Next we will see which are the most important of them all.

1- Ability to adapt

Because people with neophilia need to constantly seek new stimuli, they  are able to adapt to change more quickly than most people. This first trait is generally very positive: thanks to it, neophiliacs can develop qualities such as resilience more easily.

2- Rejection of routine and tradition

It is logical to think that, for a person with an obsession for novelty, routine can become their worst enemy. For these people,  doing the same thing day after day is one of their biggest fears. And, although no one likes to get stuck performing the same tasks over and over again, for a neophiliac this situation is especially painful.

Therefore, someone with neophilia will tend to seek constant stimulation and seek ways to escape their routine. Additionally, they will feel trapped in situations where they have very strong commitments to keep. This will put them at a disadvantage when, for example, looking for a stable job or having a formal partner.

On the other hand, traditions do not fit well into neophilic mind-sets either. These people  do not accept that something should be done in a certain way just because it has always been that way. Therefore, they tend to be more creative and innovate; this may offset some of the other more negative traits.

3- Search for novelty

Despite being closely related to the previous trait, the search for novelty is so important for people with neophilia that it deserves to be studied separately. For these individuals, the need to experience new things can become their greatest desire, to the point of becoming an obsession.

New experiences can become addictive. Because they release certain neurotransmitters in the brain, they are able to permanently modify it. Thus,  the neophiliac will need to experience more extreme sensations each time to feel good.

Therefore, it is not uncommon to find novelty addicts trying all kinds of dangerous activities, substances and fashions. Some, for example, engage in extreme sports in risky ways. They can even end up under the influence of drugs or excessive food.

However, in its fair measure, this trait can be beneficial, as long as the impulse that is experienced to know and discover what is new is properly channeled.

4- tendency to boredom

A person with neophilia constantly needs to try new things. Therefore, it is  often difficult for them to pay attention to the same thing for a long time. Whether it is a mobile phone, a partner or a job, their craving for stimulation will push them to abandon the known in search of greener pastures.

Of course, this brings some negative consequences to neophiliacs. They tend to be lonely people, since they cannot bear to be constantly with the same people. They also struggle to achieve goals that require consistent effort, or to secure stable jobs that other people would kill for.

If you identify with the traits that we have described in this article, you should know that  being a neophiliac doesn’t have to be bad. The key for it to become an advantage and not a disadvantage is knowing how to channel your need to always seek novelty. If you can focus enough to improve in key areas of your life, the desire for constant stimulation shouldn’t be a serious problem for you.

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