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Preference and Motivations for Solitude in Established Adulthood: Antecedents, Consequences, and Adulthood Phase Differences

Abstract

The consequences of solitude depend on one’s preference and motivations for solitude, some of which correlate with high psychological risks (e.g., loneliness, depression) with others relating to low risk or benefits. When life is suffused with stress, people are used to escaping and seeking solitude time for restoration, which is especially true for established adults who are burdened with the heaviest care responsibilities and work stress. However, little is known about the development of preference and motivations for solitude in established adulthood. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the level of preference and motivations for solitude and their potential antecedents and consequences in established (aged 30–45) adulthood as compared to emerging (aged 18–29) and midlife adulthood (aged 46–64). We recruited 465 young to middle-aged adults from MTurk and an undergraduate class (Fall 2019). Preference and motivations for solitude were measured with the Preference for Solitude Scale and the Motivation for Solitude Scale-Short Form. Well-being and social measures were included as potential consequences and sociodemographic, psychological, and physical measures as potential antecedents. Results showed that both preference for solitude and controlled motivation peaked in established adulthood. Same as adjacent adulthood phases, in established adulthood (a) preference for solitude related to mildly compromised well-being, (b) controlled motivation was robustly associated with worse well-being, and (c) self-determined motivation was consistently associated with better well-being. Antecedences for preference and motivations for solitude showed distinctiveness for each adulthood phase. Future interventions on well-being should focus on controlled motivation for solitude and established adults.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of the study are available from the corresponding author, JY, upon reasonable request.

Code Availability

The codes used for analysis are available from the corresponding author, JY, upon reasonable request.

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No funding was received for conducting this study.

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All authors contributed to the study’s conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by JY. The first draft of the manuscript was written by JY and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jing Yuan.

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Yuan, J., Grühn, D. Preference and Motivations for Solitude in Established Adulthood: Antecedents, Consequences, and Adulthood Phase Differences. J Adult Dev (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-022-09415-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-022-09415-6

Keywords

  • Preference
  • Motivation
  • Solitude
  • Antecedents
  • Consequences
  • Established adulthood