Solitary prosociality in later life: an experience sampling study

Ajit Singh Mann, Jordan Boeder, Dwight C. K. Tse, Laura Graham, Jeanne Nakamura

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Abstract

Loneliness is a risk factor for older adults, one exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although time spent alone is associated with both loneliness and greater well-being, the experience of solitude may depend on the type of activity pursued. We examined formal prosocial activity as one facilitator of positive solitary experiences. Older adults ( N = 165, Mage = 71.13, SD = 5.70) highly committed to prosocial-program work (e.g., tutoring) filled out surveys at six random times every day for a week. Using multilevel modeling, we investigated whether participating in prosocial-program activity alone was associated with greater well-being compared to other solitary activity. While prosocial-program activity did not buffer against negative affect in solitude, it promoted positive affect and relatedness when alone. To the extent that prosocial-program work can facilitate positive solitary experiences by enhancing feelings of connection, it may protect against threats to well-being posed by loneliness in later life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalResearch on Aging
Early online date10 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • loneliness
  • well-being
  • volunteering
  • older adults

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