Autonomy matters: experiential and individual differences in chosen and unchosen solitary activities from three experience sampling studies

Dwight C. K. Tse, Jennifer C. Lay, Jeanne Nakamura

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Abstract

Solitude––the absence of social interaction––can bring both positive and negative experiences. Drawing on self-determination theory, we conducted three experience sampling studies to investigate quality of experience and dispositions associated with activities varying on two dimensions––chosenness (chosen/unchosen) and social context (solitary/interactive). Participants (total N=283) completed surveys 6-7 times each day over a 7-day period (total: 8,769 surveys). Multilevel modeling confirmed that participants reported the lowest-quality momentary experiences when engaged in unchosen (vs. chosen) solitary activities. Further, individuals who spent more time on unchosen solitary activities reported lower meaning in life and satisfaction with life. Extraversion was positively associated with time spent on chosen interactive activities but negatively with chosen solitary activities. Post-hoc analyses revealed that people low (vs. high) in extraversion reported lower productivity only during unchosen interactive activities. Chosen (vs. unchosen) solitary activities seem to have a relatively benign impact on quality of experience and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Early online date18 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • self-determination theory
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • social interaction
  • solitude

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