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Being unsociable makes you more creative

Being unsociable makes you more creative?

It is commonly believed that people who withdraw socially are mentally unwell. Sociability is associated with mental wellness. However, a study by The State University of New York at Buffalo is the first to suggest a positive outcome for social withdrawal.

We know that social withdrawal because of fear or anxiety (social anxiety) or a dislike of social interaction (being antisocial) is not psychologically positive. However, withdrawal purely to spend time alone (being unsociable) is linked positively to creativity.

The underlying reason or motivation for social withdrawing is crucial.

Julie Bowker, an associate professor in the university’s department of psychology and lead author of the study, says: "Although unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others, we know that they spend some time with peers. They are not antisocial. They don't 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."

According to Bowker, this type of solitude is ideal for thinking creatively and developing new ideas. Examples of people who practise social withdrawal in this way are an artist in a studio, an academic in his or her office, or a writer at her desk.

The research also suggests that socially anxious and socially avoidant people are less creative because their negative cognitions and fears distract them.


Bowker, J.C., Stotsky, M.T., & Etkin, R.G. (2017). How BIS/BAS and psycho-behavioral variable distinguish between social withdrawal subtypes during emerging adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 119. 238. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.07.043. Abstract accessed 8 November 2019 from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.07.043. The full article may be purchased from ScienceDirect at this link.

University at Buffalo. (2017, November 20). Non-fearful social withdrawal linked positively to creativity: Not all forms of social withdrawal are unhealthy, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2019 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171120174505.htm


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