This paper maintains that while Proshansky et al. (1983; 1987) emphasize growth and change in self- and place-identity, they are referring to the equilibrium or stabilizing tendency of self in their discussion of the functions of place-identity, i.e., the need for integration, consistency, anxiety reduction and self-esteem maintenance. It is argued - following Buss (1991)- that organizing principles (psychological mechanisms) should be included in explanations of behaviour. However, the nature and number of these principles are the topic of ongoing debate. Nevertheless, if self is considered hierarchical, the dilemma of stability and change in place-identity can be resolved. Thus, a concept like self-esteem maintenance refers to a superordinate and stable organizing principle within this system, while the lower-order components of the system, e.g., place-identity cognitions, may change. This conforms with Epstein's (1985, 1991) cognitive experiential self-theory and with Carver and Scheier 's (1988) information processing concept of self-regulation.The findings of Lavin et at. (1984) and Korpela (1989; 1991) are the point of reference for a discussion of how places are used to maintain self-identity and foster transformations of self. For instance, Korpela (1989) found mechanisms (humanization, naming, control, fixing memory signs and personalization) ensuring that physical environment contributes to the maintenance of self-esteem and a coherent sense of self whenever it is entered. Interestingly, places may help in the transformations of identity as well (Lavin et al. ,1984). Because the outcome of the yearned-for transformation may be only dimly intuited, a person may search for places that promise to capture and crystallize the emergent identity.When trying to infer organizing principles (or preconscious beliefs) from behaviour, one is to obtain adequate samples of relevant behaviour directly or through questionnaires (Epstein, 1985). Another approach might be to develop written tests or simulated situations, to which subjects can respond by noting their most likely behavioral and emotional reaction in each situation on the basis of how they have reacted to similar situations in the past. In addition, indirect techniques, such as the use of content analysis of word samples when an individual is asked to talk about specific topics, can be used (Epstein,1985). A study is outlined for determining the degree to which each of the basic principles of self is associated with different kinds of places, and the degree to which these principles are involved in the decision to seek out certain places.