Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble and sometimes unsociability may help boost your creativity, a study has found.
“We have to understand why someone is withdrawing to understand the associated risks and benefits,” said the lead author of the study Julie Bowker, from the University at Buffalo in the US. According to the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, some people withdraw out of fear or anxiety. This type of social withdrawal is associated with shyness. Others appear to withdraw because they dislike social interaction. They are considered socially avoidant.
However, some people withdraw due to non-fearful preferences for solitude. These individuals enjoy spending time alone, reading or working on their computers. They are unsociable. Unlike shyness and avoidance, the study consistently shows that unsociability is unrelated to negative outcomes. But, Bowker’s study is the first to link it to a positive outcome, creativity.
“Although unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others, we know that they spend some time with peers. They are not antisocial,” said Bowker.
“They do not initiate interaction, but also don’t appear to turn down social invitations from peers. Therefore, they may get just enough peer interaction so that when they are alone, they are able to enjoy that solitude,” she said. “They are able to think creatively and develop new ideas – like an artist in a studio or the academic in his or her office,” she said.
In the study, shyness and avoidance were related negatively to creativity. For the study, 295 participants reported their different motivations for social withdrawal. Other self-report measures assessed creativity, anxiety sensitivity, depressive symptoms, aggression, and the behavioural approach system (BAS), which regulates approach behaviours and desires and the behavioural inhibition system (BIS), which regulates avoidant behaviours and desires. Not only was unsociability related positively to creativity, but the study findings also showed other unique associations, such as a positive link between shyness and anxiety sensitivity.