Study: Being alone can be good for your mental health, sparks creativity

BUFFALO — When it comes to seeking solitude, many people often blame mental health issues as an underlying cause. But a new study finds that being alone has its benefits too, particularly when it comes to people looking for a surge of creativity.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo interviewed 295 privacy-valuing individuals who reported a variety of reasons for their tendency to spend a lot of time alone, ranging from feeling fear or anxiety around others to preferring to use spare time working on a craft.

Woman alone at sunset
Just because you prefer to be alone doesn’t mean you’re depressed. A new study finds that being anti-social from time to time is linked to creativity.

Although research has traditionally suggested that excessive time alone can be unhealthy, some seclusive pursuits, such as trying to connect to nature or get a better sense of self, can be constructive, the researchers found.

“We have to understand why someone is withdrawing to understand the associated risks and benefits,” says Julie Bowker, the study’s lead author, in a university release.

“When people think about the costs associated with social withdrawal, oftentimes they adopt a developmental perspective,” she continues. “During childhood and adolescence, the idea is that if you’re removing yourself too much from your peers, then you’re missing out on positive interactions like receiving social support, developing social skills and other benefits of interacting with your peers.”

Bowker believes that the presumed downsides of being alone and withdrawing have lent such a preference a hard-to-erase stigma.

More recent research, including this latest study, has begun to recognize the potential benefits of alone time — provided it’s an intentional choice prompted by positive emotions.

Deeming individuals who follow such guidelines “unsociable,” Bowker explains that they may enjoy reading, working on the computer, or otherwise spending precious time alone.

Importantly, unsociable individuals, whether young and old, are not at increased risk of experiencing negative health outcomes. In fact, the researchers found that they may enjoy a special benefit: improved creativity.

“Although unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others, we know that they spend some time with peers. They are not antisocial,” Bowker emphasizes. “They don’t initiate interaction, but also don’t appear to turn down social invitations from peers. Therefore, they may get just enough peer interaction so that when they are alone, they are able to enjoy that solitude. They’re able to think creatively and develop new ideas — like an artist in a studio or the academic in his or her office.”

Other, less healthy forms of isolation include social avoidance (i.e., choosing to withdraw due to fear), and social withdrawal (i.e., shyness), she notes.

While these two forms may overlap with unsociability, neither would appear to confer the benefits of the latter.

“Over the years, unsociability has been characterized as a relatively benign form of social withdrawal,” Bowker concludes. “But, with the new findings linking it to creativity, we think unsociability may be better characterized as a potentially beneficial form of social withdrawal.”

The study’s findings were published Personality and Individual Differences.


  1. I’ll quote Charles Manson believe it or not in relation to this story: “It used to be crazy meant something, nowadays everybody’s crazy.” I treasure my alone time and seek to avoid a warped society at every opportunity. As a MGTOW life has never been better. When it comes to women, nothing destroys a mans peace and serenity in life more than today’s Western women. Solitude is a gift and I for one absolutely love it, I’m more at peace and healthier than I ever was when married and seeking social interaction.

    1. Let him and everything he was about die. Don’t quote him. Don’t remember him. Let him be erased from history and deny him what he craved most.

      1. Oh, if only we could do that with Hitler, Napoleon, anyone who upsets us.
        Isn’t that called “Unperson”ing, by George Orwell?
        Suck it up buttercup, the world is not pretty, nature is cruel, and you most likely live in a bubble, especially in a historical context.
        Estimates dictate there about 6,000 Charlie Manson’s walking around, free as birds, right now.

    2. It’s unfortunate that people are increasinly unable to distinguish between Women of the Left and normal women.

      1. The collection of all psycho-left faux women may be reasonably labeled as Non-women.
        That is, having no identifiable gender appropriate virtues.
        Sad to say.

  2. I have lived alone for about 20 years. (I’m 67) Mostly, because people suck. I have taken up painting landscapes of the desert, learning the piano and now the electronic piano, reading, watching TV whatever and whenever I want to. I have about zero friends but get along with my neighbors pretty well. Been in the same house 17 years. It’s all mine. I smile whenever I am at the store. Or even alone. I talk to myself, of course. One person said as long as I don’t answer myself I’m not crazy. I replied, “What am I supposed to do? Ignore myself?” Talk about rejection!” I used to drive a taxi so I got all the interaction with people I wanted. People are fine in small doses. Driving a nice looking girl around was always a pleasure. In Vegas I actually had Miss Peru as a passenger during the Miss Universe contest back in the 80’s. My definition of a perfect relationship with a woman was it lasts ten to twenty minutes and at the end she PAYS me. I know folks who don’t like to be alone. Now THAT I see as the bigger problem. I do no drugs or alcohol and am very grateful (today IS Thanksgiving) for every moment I have. I hope everyone reading this achieves that feeling today and most days.

  3. Never in the history of this country have we had so much ‘mental illness’ and ‘social disorders’. The words “bi-polar, ADD, depression” are thrown around like confetti. I live alone because I choose to .. I love my solitude and privacy. I’m super extroverted and have a loving and fun group of friends, church fellowship and several hobbies. I’ve been alone most of my life, but never lonely. There is a difference. Lately, the world has become full of obnoxious people, bullying and a bit too “in your face” for my taste. The feminist movement destroyed the way relationships should be. Men don’t know what role to take anymore, damned if they open the door for you, damned if they don’t. Women will “give it up” in seconds for a meal ticket or a piece of jewelry. Too many people do not know how to give, they just know how to take. Too many people need a good emotional housecleaning. Is it any wonder why so many like me enjoy their solitude? And yes, I’m from the old school and proud of it.

    1. What a great post! Having spent only 4 yrs single since I was 21, I’m really old now, it is nice to be comfortable being alone it was a struggle at first but it was worth the effort. Women want your financial statement not your love or devotion. I lived in surf and ski resorts all my life and it is so obvious the fat old ugly guy and the young babe on his arm. They broke the mold for real women hence robots.

      1. All one has to do is dress nice (shoes important), expensive fat watch, talk well and bamm girl ville. Dress down and you can enjoy solitude and pity the pathetic American woman. Pathetic! Who wants to listen to someone who is unfair and irresponsible? Robots have women at such a disadvantage. Custom made to look just like your favorite tease/bitch. LOL…take it Cindy,

    2. Two great books to read are “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” By Susan Cain and “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” By Sophia Dembling. Understanding the introvert/extrovert dynamic can really bring a peace to ones life…

      1. Haven’t read Dembling, but loved Cain’s work. By the bye, I am an extrovert. However, I love solitude as well (as an ENFP my favorite work place is a crowded cafe and no one bothering me! 8^)

      2. The books you mention are good ones and I encourage others to read them. I read all of those books. Susan Cain also has a website with very interesting articles about introversion. This article was good and I’m glad this truth finally came out. I am mostly a loner but I am definitely not lonely, depressed, or sociopathic. I enjoy getting out and doing things. Part of that means enjoying people and interacting with them.

  4. A person brakes a leg, they get a cast, they get crutches, they heal, they do therapy, they fully heal.
    When we break our mind, due to overwhelming stress, we take pills or do violent things. Great treatment protocol.

  5. Some people can’t stand being alone, some people like it. I like being alone because the people who can’t stand being alone drive me nuts.

  6. When I was in the 4th grade I was fat and my peers teased me mercilessly. Back then in health class they would weigh us and post the results on the chalk board. I was the heaviest. The play ground was brutal too. And the kids in my neighborhood were not fun or nice to me. I learned that people are not safe to be around. I love living where I can walk freely in public and no one knows me. I work at home and talk to people on the phone only. I am very creative. I have worked in public but find in unpleasant. I’m on my 3rd wife. Finally a gal who loves me as I am. Read the book “Loners Manifesto” that will explain the difference between most people and folks who like to be alone.

  7. Glad to see this article as there are millions of we “loners” who value and enjoy our choice. I was an only child and learned to entertain, be content and enjoy myself. I have friends who are like flies in a bottle – always have to be “doing something, out and about, with people constantly.” I feel sorry for them, especially as they age. It’s a God given gift to be happy and content with oneself

  8. Solitude. A beautiful word for a pleasant state of conscious existence. Pity those who cannot stand to be alone as they are the ones with mental health issues.

  9. Could it be the researcher in this study is an anti-social psychopath trying to justify his behavior or is there real science here?
    It’s so hard to tell when it comes to Thought Raping studies.

  10. Actually, we’re never alone. God is Always with us…whether we face Him or turn our backs…whether He’s before us or behind. Even Jesus needed to go to the dessert at times retreat from ‘the world’ to rest, reflect and Pray. I do the same at times along with making crafts, painting and catching up on household tasks….Staying home in PJ’s, sleeping late, easy-listening music and wine…the BEST Medicine. Try it. God Speed. 😇

    1. I agree. Worked for 48 years running/owning a company. Had over 1100 top clients I personally handled seeing them daily , weekly, monthly, et al seven days a week. Sold my company 3 years ago and no more clients, simply solitude and now feeling normal again after 48 years of covering up being an introvert. Life is good.

  11. “When it comes to seeking solitude, many people often blame mental health issues as an underlying cause.”
    It appears that radicalized leftist liberals are projecting their own social decay and dysfunction as this ‘study’, and several others this year, seem to correlate the fact they are mentally adrift and lost in The Age of Trump!

    Forbes: Jan – “Loneliness Might Be A Bigger Health Risk Than Smoking Or Obesity”

    Telegraphs: Aug – “Loneliness is deadlier than obesity, study suggests”

    Harvaard: Jul – “Loneliness has same risk as smoking for heart disease”

    1. Some motivational speaker from several years ago said something that stuck with me: “Show me a happy person and I’ll show you someone NOT involved in a relationship.”

  12. The one true wealth in life is time. What can be more satisfying to spend it exploring the world by using our most precious skill, the ability to conjure up alternatives to the way the world is, aka creativity?
    Interaction with others can help in gathering additional information or to test a new solution or theorem one has developed, but creative thinking is best done in solitude.

  13. Nonsense. All these “studies” and “research” are motivated by tax money. Remember… its all about money and nothing else.

  14. When one learns the real definitions of “introvert” and “extrovert”, it really can be life-changing. Two great books to read are “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” By Susan Cain and “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” By Sophia Dembling. Finally understanding that introverts gain energy and reboot in solitude and are sapped of energy in social situations (opposite for extroverts), and stopped trying to fit the expectations of an extrovert world, it was a great epiphany. That understanding allows you to manage and balance your solitude/social periods and the associated anxieties/annoyances. If the ones closest to you (usually only a few people) understand, criticism, anxiety and friction wane in these situations…

  15. I have been single the past three years, and also happen to work from home in a new state where i have no social circles. It has been an amazing time. Spent the time discovering myself and unlearning all the social and political indoctrinations. Gone down the libertarian/anarchist rabbit hole.. no longer a sheep. Also becoming very wealthy from crypto currencies. And although i am not a MGTOW purist, i do find that they make many good points. Life is good…. making plans for the next… retiring early and looking at getting a nice yacht live aboard.

  16. We needed a study to tell us that there are benefits to some alone time, and that it can boost your creativity? Who knew?

    1. That’s because you have people out there that don’t believe anything unless it comes from some peer review, or scientific evidence. Too many spineless whinnies out there afraid to live.

  17. ‘Researchers at the University of Buffalo interviewed 295 privacy-valuing individuals who reported a variety of reasons for their tendency to spend a lot of time alone, ranging from feeling fear or anxiety around others to preferring to use spare time working on a craft.’

    Junk science – actually, pseudo-science. A child ought to be able to spot the problems with this ‘research.’

    One wonders who is paying for such stuff. Very likely the taxpayer is being hit for much or all of it.

  18. I have been bipolar (diagnosed 30 years ago) and yeah, it is real although an over diagnosed illness to be sure. I also have a husband and two daughters; one of who still lives at home. Some of my best times are when my daughter is spending the night at a friends house and my husband is at a racquetball tournament and I have 10 or so hours of uninterrupted alone time. It isn’t because of my illness at all.

  19. i think going through your entire life with someone, wife, kids, grandkids has its drawbacks just as being alone with no wife, or kids your entire life.
    But in this day n age, we have many people who have done both. Been alone, and been with their wife, GF and kids or grand kids if they have them.
    Personally i think neither one of the three has the advantage over the others. Its what you want and generally we do what we feel most comfortable doing, be it alone or with family around, or leaving one to be alone or have a companion and a family

  20. My momma always said that being alone is where you find yourself, where you reflect, and where you gather for the moments you are not. But right now, there isnt much to gain from being around others and collaborating so this tends to favor solitude. It does for me. I prefer my solitude, not because I don’t like people, but because people now a days make things too complicated. Everything is over analyzed, over extended, and over expressed. Too many people with big mouths and little to say. I like my solitude because I don’t like dealing with ignorant people and have an actual intellectual conversation with my self and my thoughts.

  21. Oh look, extroverts trying to understand introverts. You just won’t, you’re just different. As an introvert, being around people is mentally taxing to me and I prefer to be alone. It doesn’t mean I’m mentally ill, or somehow wrong. I’m just different to most of you. To an extrovert, being around people is probably comfortable. You enjoy socializing and listening to what others have experienced recently. To an introvert, that takes effort. You should feel fortunate if your invitation to socialize is deemed worth that effort. We prefer to spend time alone because it’s as mentally refreshing for an introvert to be alone as it is for an extrovert to be at a party with all their friends. In our chosen solitude we still find some outlet, oftentimes in the making of things. Sorry, but there really aren’t any big revelations here…

  22. Yes, people usually do their best and most creative thinking, not necessarily when alone but when not distracted by other people. Think of ideas that have come to you in the shower (presumably alone). Joe Walsh was said to have gotten the idea for Life’s Been Good while cutting his grass. Turn off the electronics while you exercise, paint, vacuum, wash the dishes or any other mindless chore and inspiration will come.

  23. As a medical doctor, after reading this inane and pure rubbish article, I didn’t know if I should laugh out loud, or, close my door and laugh even harder…

  24. Reversal of marital status by spouse to single helps you appreciate being alone – or specifically away from petty adversity – makes for happier state – don’t miss the negativity which has been magnified in understanding by the abandonment such as “how can you listen to that music (country)” to a guy who appreciates everything from Pavarotti to country to mostly rock n roll and lately Thunderstruck AC/DC – don’t miss the runaway spouse’s childish dependence such as “how long to nuke a hot dog?” or did you feed the cats (every freaking morning question) after she gets out of bed – me not a cat fan but always feed them early while princess still getting beauty sleep and negative thoughts recharging!

    1. C’mon now, how can you so quickly dismiss the pure joys of being at a social gathering and nodding politely, grinning like a dufus or pretending to laugh through your nose while thinking (or muttering under your breath) the whole while, “J.C., how I wish this G.D. idiot would just S.T.F.U.!”

  25. Other than speaking with clerks at the store, gas stations, banks, etc… and conversations with my doctors (non psychiatrist/psychologist) the weekly phone call with my oldest daughter and her kids I haven’t spoken with anyone in about six weeks. With that said I find this statement, “We have to understand why someone is withdrawing to understand the associated risks and benefits.” to be quite questionable. I am not withdrawing from anything, I am simply more comfortable and the only risks or benefits are those perceived within the mind of Julie Bowker, the study’s lead author, and those like her. The entire premise that people who are so called, “loners” have mental issues is preposterous. I harm nobody, including myself. My bills are paid on time or early, I am friendly, not angry and my neighbors and I interact when we see each other. I have simply found through empirical evidence that someone with a neurological inconvenience (spastic paraplegia) is better off not dealing with the so-called normal people in society who assume that individuals with physical impairments also have mental impairments and are less than they are.

  26. The following comments from the above article jumped out at me:

    …someone is withdrawing…
    …costs associated with social withdrawal…
    …you’re removing yourself too much from your peers…
    …unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others…

    Let’s reverse the perspective a little:

    …someone is intruding…
    …costs associated with social over-involvement…
    …you’re involving yourself too much with your peers…
    …hyper-social youth spend more time around others than in solitude…

    It seems to me that the author of the cited article is using her level of “socialness” and “involvement” as the benchmark to determine that people who are being less social or involved (compared to her) are flawed.

    I might suggest that she use a few antisocial or socially withdrawn people as the benchmark to evaluate the motivations, actions, and effects of the hyper-active, forced-social, extra-personal intrusions that a large majority of society and advertising and motivational speakers/writers use to keep ramping up a frenetic pace of life that is burning out too many people in their endless pursuits of the next socially – and economically – acceptable level of human interaction and approval.

    “I am not anti-social,
    I’m selectively social.

    There’s a difference.”

  27. TV is better. At least I know when I’m listening to offensive, Liberal or gay crap, it’s coming from a source I can readily shut off.

  28. The government needs to ban marriage and make it illegal to congregate with someone of the opposite 26 sexes. It’s insensitive to those who are not married.

  29. in an extrovert’s world, introverts learn pretty quickly to tune out the “YOU MUST BE SOCIALIZING, IF YOU AREN’T CONSTANTLY SOCIALIZING SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU” drivel which seems to be the rule for most of the western world. also, it’s pretty hard to take a study seriously which conflates “asocial” with “antisocial.”

  30. Every day I take stock of all the things I have to be grateful for. Number one on the list is ‘I never got married’.

  31. And other than gang members what is a common trait of murderers? that’s right mental illness and isolation from normal persons

    1. Define “normal persons.”
      I seek isolation from people because I generally find them obnoxious and often times malevolent. While you find the self-isolating individual as potentially malevolent.

        1. Just had to work in the passive- aggressive dig, after the compliment, didn’t you? “Obnoxious” case in point.

  32. I didn’t realize there were even 295 people still living in Buffalo. Hard to have much of a social life when you’re under 50 feet of snow for 10 months a year.

  33. Uh. Yeah. No kidding. Ask any mom, or dad for that matter, with three kids what they want most for Christmas. They’ll tell you just a couple hours ALONE.

  34. Well it still beats watching the NFL…then again, getting your hand stuck in a waffle iron pretty much does as well.

  35. Stupid. One study finds being alone “may” be good for us, another study states the opposite. And these studies are supposed to be conducted by “experts”?

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