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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Positive solitude : an examination of individuals who spend frequent time alone Cady, Jasmine


An abundance of empirical research indicates that individuals who spend frequent time alone are less happy than those who are more socially active (Diener & Seligman, 2002). In mass media and popular culture these individuals are commonly referred to as “Loners.” The current study investigates if some individuals who spend frequent time alone report average or higher than average ratings of happiness despite the contradictory trend in research and the negative loner stereotype. The study also provides an empirical description of the loner construct by examining a group of self-declared loners. Five hundred and thirty eight subjects who reported spending frequent time alone completed the Subjective Happiness Scale, the UCLA Loneliness Scale (3), the Social Phobia Inventory, the E-scale of the EPQR-A, the Preference for Solitude Scale and the Relationship Questionnaire. It was found that unhappiness and poor well-being do not necessarily accompany spending frequent time alone, even for individuals who identify as loners. While the majority of participants who reported spending frequent time alone also reported poor levels of well-being, 21.7% of the study’s entire population as well as 20.6% of self-declared loners within that group reported average or high scores of happiness on the Subjective Happiness Scale. Furthermore, they did not report stereotypical symptoms such as high rates of loneliness or social phobia. In addition to challenging the prevailing loner stereotype, these results raise questions about the generalizability of the established correlation between spending frequent time alone and poor well-being. Theoretically relevant constructs such as loneliness, social phobia and extraversion will be discussed. Attention is called for a deeper and more balanced examination of individuals who spend frequent time alone.

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