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Description: Objective. People value solitude in varying degrees. Theories and studies suggest that people’s appreciation of solitude varies considerably across persons (e.g., an introverted person may value solitude more than an extraverted person), and solitude experiences (i.e., on average, people may value some functions of solitude, e.g., privacy, more than other functions e.g., self-discovery). What are the unique contributions of these two sources? Method. We surveyed a quota-based sample of 501 US residents about their perceived importance of a diverse set of 22 solitude functions. Results. Variance component analysis reveals that both sources contributed to the variability of perceived importance of solitude (person: 22%; solitude function: 15%). Crucially, individual idiosyncratic preferences (person by solitude function interaction) had a substantial impact (46%). Further analyses explored the role of personality traits, showing that different functions of solitude hold varying importance for different people. For example, neurotic individuals prioritize emotion regulation; introverted individuals value relaxation; and conscientious individuals find solitude important for productivity. Conclusions. People value solitude for idiosyncratic reasons. Scientific inquiries on solitude must consider the fit between a person’s characteristics and the specific functions a solitary experience affords. This research suggests that crafting or enhancing positive solitude experiences requires a personalized approach.

Has supplemental materials for Person-specific priorities in solitude on PsyArXiv


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