Tuesday, November 28, 2017

People who seek solitude are more creative.

Ingraham points to an article by Bowker et al. that makes me feel better about my desire for and comfort with a substantial period of solitude each day. With a psychobabble title like "How BIS/BAS and psycho-behavioral variables distinguish between social withdrawal subtypes during emerging adulthood." I never would have come across the message of this article on my own. You have to read down about three paragraphs into the article to discover that BIS and BAS refer to neurobiological behavioral inhibition and behavioral approach systems. The study is conducted on the usual gaggle of 295 WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) US college students taking a large introductory psychology course. The study makes the point that not all forms of social withdrawal are harmful. In fact there is a correlation between seeking out solitude and creativity. Bowker and colleagues used a standard battery of psychological assessments to show, in Ingraham's words, that:
People who were shy or antisocial scored lower than average on the measure of creativity. But people who were “unsociable” — those who sought out solitude — scored higher on creativity.
Unsociable people, in other words, “may be able to spend their time in solitude constructively, unlike shy and avoidant individuals who may be too distracted and/or preoccupied by their negative cognitions and distress,” the authors posit.
Other research — and indeed, the life experiences of many famously creative people — back up this notion. The solitary genius is a familiar trope in Western society. Think of Thoreau in his cabin, Van Gogh alone in an asylum and Beethoven's withdrawal into silent solitude.
Research also has found (cf. Long and Averill) that highly intelligent people are happier when they have fewer friends. They might spend less time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective.

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