Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone
Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2003
Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Volume 33, Issue 1, pages 21–44, March 2003
How to Cite
Long, C. R. and Averill, J. R. (2003), Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33: 21–44. doi: 10.1111/1468-5914.00204
- Issue online: 5 MAR 2003
- Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2003
Christopher R. Long and James R. Averill, Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone, pp. 21–44.
Historically, philosophers, artists, and spiritual leaders have extolled the benefits of solitude; currently, advice on how to achieve solitude is the subject of many popular books and articles. Seldom, however, has solitude been studied by psychologists, who have focused instead on the negative experiences associated with being alone, particularly loneliness. Solitude, in contrast to loneliness, is often a positive state—one that may be sought rather than avoided. In this article, we examine some of the benefits that have been attributed to solitude—namely, freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality. In subsequent sections, we consider the environmental settings and personality characteristics conducive to solitude, how time spent alone is experienced differently across the life span, and the potential dangers related to the attractiveness of solitude. We conclude with a brief discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of solitude.