Our Data Shows Just How Many People Enjoy Going Out Alone

“Don’t judge me!”

It’s a common phrase we hear (and, admittedly, say) all too often. By showing favor to something deemed unfavorable or doing something we feel merits a little ribbing by friends, we’re concerned that our peers will “judge” us. It can be argued that this anxiety is rarely as heightened than when we consider attending a social event– gasp— alone! 

There’s a bit of a self-imposed stigma around doing things alone. Along with worrying you’ll be standing alone in a room full of cliques as if you’ve been transported to one of your worst adolescent nightmares, your inner dialogue can’t help but imagine all of the things everyone who sees you walking around solo is probably thinking– and your brain usually imagines the worst. While you may assume everyone else in the world is just that judgmental, studies and data actually show that even though we all think going out without a squad will make people assume we’re squad-less or anti-social, the reality is, no one actually thinks that about other people flying solo.

That said, it’s not unusual to still want someone either to invite us along for the ride or to be the one we invite to join.

“We’ve seen that people are much more likely to go to an event if they were invited by a friend – 55% more likely, actually,” said Stephen George, the CEO of the company Surkus, which keeps data on the interactions their members have with events on their app.

The notion that people are less likely to attend an event if a friend is not invited may seem like a preface to the belief that going to an event alone just won’t be as fun – but, that’s really not the case.

“Our average member leaves a 4.7 star review for the local events they go to. That number doesn’t change if they went alone or if a friend went with them,” George said.

This data backs up research professors from The University of Maryland and Georgetown University performed in a 2015 study. The study’s authors, Rebecca Ratner and Rebecca Hamilton, performed a series of five experiments– four of which concluded just how opposed people were to doing specific activities alone, and the fifth put those internal judgments to test in order to see if people going out by themselves actually had a worse time.

The results found that while people expected to have less fun going out alone, they actually had a good time whether they had company or not. The study also uncovered the main reason people are hesitant to go out in public without their squad: they’re worried about what other people will think of them. Even though we may have a better time at an outdoor movie screening, we’ll choose Netflix alone because we’re self-conscious.

But are others really paying any attention to the number of people in our posse? Another study by professors at Williams College and Cornell University uncovered the answer: a resounding no. In all actuality, no one really cares that much what others (especially strangers) are doing because we’re too busy being focused on ourselves.

So, while you’re worrying about others are thinking of you, they are doing the exact same.

Through their research, Kenneth Savitsky, Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich discovered that people expect to be judged more harshly by their social faux pas than is actually the case. They call this idea that we’re being analyzed and judged worse than we are the “focus illusion.”

In social scenarios, we forget that the observer has many other factors at play, such as external elements which ultimately distract them from caring about what we’re doing and, not to mention, that all-too-often forgotten mark of kindness, empathy. People don’t judge as much as we expect them to because they have been in a similar position, ie: going out alone and feeling as if all eyes are on them and their (assumed) lack of friends. We are all guilty of failing to appreciate the extent of a “been there, done that” disposition.

This is why the aforementioned stigma is, essentially, just self-induced fear. While we don’t really have all of these negative ideas about someone else being out alone, we somehow believe that stigma will be put on ourselves. Essentially, we have this epidemic of people passing up the opportunity to have some fun. And, if you think about it, staying home so that people don’t assume you have no friends only heightens the problem by not allowing you to actually meet new friends.

The saying, “Make your own fun,” may not be as eyeroll-inducing as it sounds. Having a good time on your own is absolutely a possibility, as proven through data and research. The value of discovery cannot be underestimated; don’t deny yourself that.

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