Examination of the Effect of Preference for Solitude on Subjective Well-Being and Developmental Change

  • Aya ToyoshimaEmail author
  • Shinichi Sato


This study examined the associations of preference for solitude (PS) and social interactions with subjective well-being in three age groups: younger, middle-aged, and older adults. We conducted an Internet questionnaire survey of 1500 people: 500 younger adults (aged 29–31), 500 middle-aged adults (aged 49–51), and 500 older adults (aged 69–71). The questionnaire incorporated scales measuring PS, social interactions, and subjective well-being. The results of a multiple regression analysis, with positive affect as the dependent variable, showed that the interaction term, interacting with friends and PS in older adults, had a significant effect. Thus, interacting with friends was associated with higher positive affect among older adults who reported lower or average PS scores. However, among those with a higher PS scores, the effect of interacting with friends was relatively weak, in comparison to other groups. Moreover, the interaction between spending time alone and PS was significant for all age groups. Particularly, among older adults who frequently spent time alone, those who reported a higher PS tended to have higher positive affect than the other participants. Thus, when older adults preferred solitude, having little social interaction did not appear to inhibit their subjective well-being. However, PS was related to low levels of life satisfaction in all age groups. The results of this study suggest that spending time alone actually enhances positive affect; this partially explains how older adults adapt to their diminishing social networks.


Preference for solitude Social interaction Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Spending time alone Adolescence Older adults Middle-aged adults 



This work was supported by Japanese Sciences Research Grant [Basic study C: 15KT0090, representative of the study: Shinichi Sato]. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. We received supervision and advice on survey implementation from Associate Professor Yasuyuki Gondo from the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. We would like to give him our sincerest gratitude.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Osaka UniversityOsakaJapan

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