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Choice could be important to wellbeing when it comes to socializing

According to an Israeli study, the ability to choose when we socialise and when we prefer being alone could influence our wellbeing.

Are we happier alone or in the company of others? According to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the key to a fulfilling social life comes down to one thing: choice. The study suggests that our sense of choice about when to be alone or to spend time with others is “a central factor which shapes our feelings in these contexts.”

“Stable social relationships are conducive to well-being. But the effects of daily social interactions (or of time spent alone) on momentary feeling of happiness is not well understood,” the researchers acknowledge in the study news release.

To conduct their research, Dr. Uziel and colleagues followed 155 Israeli students for 10 days. The students filled out a questionnaire three times a day, detailing their social experiences. The specialists asked them to detail whether they were alone or in company, and whether this was through their own choice. In addition, the respondents were asked to detail their feelings. The experts also asked the students to identify the places in which their social experiences took place.

They found that 63 per cent of the participants reported socialising daily during the 10-day study. Regardless of the social setting, participants were in situations by their own choice in 64 per cent of situations. In total, one-third of the students’ day was experienced in an unchosen social or solitary setting.

The results showed that “the greatest degree of happiness was felt when in the company of others by choice, but the lowest degree of happiness when in the company of others not by choice. Effects of being alone on happiness also varied by choice status, but to a lesser extent.”

Dr. Uziel and colleagues conclude that “people will feel better if they are alone by choice than if they are with others not by choice. Yet being in the company of others by choice contributes most to improving sense of well-being at any given moment.”


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