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Definitions of solitude in everyday life

Weinstein, N. ORCID:, Hansen, H. and Nguyen, T.-v. (2023) Definitions of solitude in everyday life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 49 (12). pp. 1663-1678. ISSN 0146-1672

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/01461672221115941


What does it mean to be in solitude? Researchers building this nascent field are learning much about the potential affordances of solitude, but lack an agreed-upon definition or set of definitions. Arriving at that meaning is crucial to forming a solid foundation for studies that use both naturalistic and laboratory designs to explore outcomes of solitude. This study identified themes from semi-structured interviews with adults aged 19 to 80 from diverse backgrounds. We concluded that solitude is a state in which the dominant relationship is with the self. If not physically alone, people in solitude are mentally distanced from others and away from active technology-mediated interactions. Complete solitude involves both physical separation and inner focus, but solitude is best defined through a taxonomy that recognizes physical separation and internal focus as independent, sufficient characteristics. An internal focus benefits from (but is not defined by) balancing solitude with social time, quiet, and choice.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:107279
Uncontrolled Keywords:Social Psychology
Publisher:SAGE Publications


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