Motivation and Preference in Isolation: a Test of their Different Influences on Responses to Self-isolation during the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Weinstein & Nguyen, 2020.

This multi-wave study examined the extent that both preference and motivation for time alone shapes ill-being during self-isolation. Individuals in the USA and the UK are self-isolating in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Different motivations may drive their self-isolation: some might see value in it (understood as the identified form of autonomous motivation), while others might feel forced into it by authorities or close others (family, friends, neighbourhoods, doctors; the external form of controlled motivation). People who typically prefer company will find themselves spending more time alone, and may experience ill-being uniformly, or as a function of their identified or external motivations for self-isolation. Self-isolation, therefore, offers a unique opportunity to distinguish two constructs coming from disparate literatures. This project examined preference and motivation (identified and external) for solitude, and tested their independent and interacting contributions to ill-being (loneliness, depression and anxiety during the time spent alone) across two weeks. Confirmatory hypotheses regarding preference and motivation were not supported by the data. A statistically significant effect of controlled motivation on change in ill-being was observed one week later, and preference predicted ill-being across two weeks. However, effect sizes for both were below our minimum threshold of interest.

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Full reference:

Nguyen, T. V. T., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2018). Solitude as an approach to affective self-regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(1), 92-106.doi: