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Study reveals no ‘one-size-fits-all’ balance between solitude and socializing for well-being

Study reveals no ‘one-size-fits-all’ balance between solitude and socializing for well-being

In a recent study published within the journal Scientific Reports, researchers collected and analyzed data to explore whether there may be a balance between time spent in solitude and socializing that maximizes mental health and life satisfaction. Their findings indicate that point alone is related to lower well-being on certain metrics, reminiscent of satisfaction, and better well-being on others, like stress and autonomy.

Registered Report: Balance between solitude and socializing: on a regular basis solitude time each advantages and harms well-being. Image Credit: fran_kie / Shutterstock


Many researchers have explored the connection between solitude and well-being with seemingly contradictory results, termed the ‘paradox of solitude.’ While some studies point to positive impacts, others conclude that spending time alone goes against our social nature and might adversely affect our quality of life.

In contrast to loneliness, which occurs when people have less social interaction and connection than desired, aloneliness has been described as the will for more solitude. Research indicates that motivation drives the satisfaction derived from solitude and interaction. Each these elements are essential in our every day lives; what’s unclear is that if there may be an ‘optimal’ balance between the 2, which might maximize well-being.

“Briefly, the query of balance in solitude could also be an easy one: What quantity of our time ought to be spent alone?”

In regards to the study

In the current study, researchers assessed whether there may be evidence for a tipping or inflection point beyond which the connection between solitude and well-being shifts from positive to negative or vice versa. They hypothesized that below this threshold, more time spent in solitude could be related to lower stress and aloneliness and better satisfaction and autonomy. Additionally they examined these relationships on the every day level and across time, in addition to the role of motivation for solitude in mitigating negative feelings of isolation.

Participants within the study were a minimum of 35 years old so as, were English speakers, resided within the UK or US, and received financial compensation for his or her contribution. Of the 178 individuals who participated, 79 identified as men, 95 identified as women, and the opposite 4 entered other gender categories; 175 people were included in the ultimate evaluation. The common age of the participants was 47 years, and the typical variety of accomplished study days was 16.7, leading to 2,967 data points.

Researchers collected demographic information and provided an introduction to the study during an initiation session, after which participants were asked to fill out a 21-day diary every evening for 3 weeks. The survey was designed to elicit information on time allocated to socializing and solitude, in addition to several well-being outcomes (aloneliness, loneliness, stress, and satisfaction) and motivation.

The methodology was chosen to attenuate recall bias and permit the research team to model each between- and within-person effects. Researchers analyzed the information and tested their hypotheses using nested hierarchical linear modeling and mixed model analyses. They controlled for lagged effects to account for temporal autocorrelation.


Overall, satisfaction metrics (every day satisfaction and satisfaction with the necessity for autonomy) declined barely over time, but there have been no significant trends in aloneliness, loneliness, or stress. Intraclass correlations indicated that between 31% and 44% of the variance observed in the information could possibly be attributed to differences inside people relatively than between individual variances.

Researchers found that as time spent in solitude increased, loneliness and autonomy need satisfaction increased, but aloneliness, stress, and day satisfaction decreased. Nonetheless, a better reported selection for solitude was related to higher satisfaction and reduced stress and loneliness. For days when participants reported high motivation for solitude, there was no significant relationship between time spent alone and their satisfaction with their day.

“On days that were relatively high on choiceful motivation, the association between solitude time and day satisfaction was small and non-significant; on days low on choiceful motivation, increased solitude time was significantly related to lower day satisfaction.”

Interestingly, the relationships established by this study were linear, indicating that there might not be a median threshold value or ‘tipping point’ beyond which the connection between well-being and time spent alone changes.


The findings of this study indicate that there isn’t a ‘right’ amount of solitude in our every day lives. Spending time alone comes with certain opportunities, including having more control over how we would really like to spend our time. Too little time spent alone can mean not having the chance to calm down and reconnect with ourselves. However, an excessive amount of time spent alone, especially if not by selection, can result in isolation, loneliness, and various other opposed outcomes.

These findings imply that solitude’s advantages come from being alone. Additionally they indicate that folks can desire more solitude or less based on various contextual aspects and that their decisions are highly variable. Individuals reply to day-specific occurrences by feeling the necessity to connect roughly.

Researchers hope these intriguing findings will result in further research into how experiences with socializing and solitude influence well-being and quality of life. Future studies can focus individually on different periods of maturity, as age can modify these relationships. They may also examine what activities are undertaken and with whom and use other study designs to permit for causal inference.

Such investigations might help us profit from our time in solitude and realize once we could use some human interaction!


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