Leaving the loners alone: Dispositional preference for solitude evokes ostracism

D. Ren*, A.M. Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


What are the interpersonal consequences of seeking solitude? Leading theories in developmental research have proposed that having a general preference for solitude may incur significant interpersonal costs, but empirical studies are still lacking. In five studies (total N = 1,823), we tested whether target individuals with a higher preference for solitude were at greater risk for ostracism, a common, yet extremely negative, experience. In studies using self-reported experiences (Study 1) and perceptions of others’ experiences (Study 2), individuals with a stronger preference for solitude were more likely to experience ostracism. Moreover, participants were more willing to ostracize targets with a high (vs. low) preference for solitude (Studies 3 and 4). Why do people ostracize solitude-seeking individuals? Participants assumed that interacting with these individuals would be aversive for themselves and the targets (Study 5; preregistered). Together, these studies suggest that seeking time alone has important (and potentially harmful) interpersonal consequences.
Keywords: preference for solitude, ostracism, exclusion, person perception
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1294-1308
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • exclusion
  • ostracism
  • person perception
  • preference for solitude


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