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(Don’t wanna be) All by myself: Why we hate doing things alone




A boy plays in the water at Baker Beach near the Golden Gate Bridge March 25, 2005 in San Francisco, California.
A boy plays in the water at Baker Beach near the Golden Gate Bridge March 25, 2005 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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The next time you’re at a restaurant and see someone eating alone at a table for two, rather than assuming the person has no friends, ask yourself why you don’t do things alone more often.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that activities are more fun when done in groups, and for many, this is true. But as it turns out, you might be missing out on a whole load of fun that you could be having...by yourself.

A study set to be published in the August edition of the Journal of Consumer Research explores humanity’s aversion to doing things alone.

Titled "Inhibited from Bowling Alone," the study surveyed whether participants preferred to do certain activities alone or with friends. Then, they set out to see whether participants enjoyed visiting an art gallery more alone versus in a group of people.

The result? The participants expected to have less fun on the solo trip, but actually found they enjoyed themselves just as much, if not more, going alone than they did in a group.

The research suggests that our aversion to doing things by ourselves does not stem from a fear of not having fun, but rather from how we think others will perceive us.

Do you enjoy doing things on your own, or can you not have fun unless you’re with a group of friends? Why do you think this is?

Inhibited from Bowling Alone

Guest:

Rebecca Ratner, professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She’s also the co-author of the study “Inhibited From Bowling Alone,” which will appear in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.