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“Many religious figures, philosophers, and psychologists have argued since forever that people occasionally or often need some time alone to feel some space and freedom to think about something important to them, do something creative or spiritual, connect with nature, or whatever other thing is difficult for them to do when they are surrounded by other people,” said Christopher Long, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
At the beginning of his career studying the development of shyness and social anxiety in children, Coplan and his colleagues spent time observing children play at recess, and noticing when children were off by themselves.Some of those kids were shy, but others seemed to be just fine on their own; they preferred it. “They seemed quite content to be playing by themselves, and didn't seem to be displaying the same kinds of signs of worry or anxiety or kind of uncomfortableness that a shy kid would typically demonstrate,” Coplan said. They’ve now done studies in college students of varying adult ages, and teenagers, age 15 to 17, published in January of this year. In these older groups they’ve found people who enjoy time alone, and when they don't get it, they experience aloneliness. They measure aloneliness using the Solitude and Aloneliness Scale that Coplan and his colleagues developed, which asks people to agree with statement like, “It would be nice if I could spend more time alone each day.”
“Most importantly, loneliness is an involuntary state.”