AAUW Speaker Series: Embracing Solitude for Psychological Wellbeing


The prospect of being alone elicits diverse reactions: some of us desire more time by ourselves, while others of us avoid it at all costs. To “be alone” is complex because it includes the possibility of loneliness as well as the potential for positive solitude. When chosen, solitude is a restorative and generative state that plays a significant role in psychological wellbeing. It’s also a radical act in a culture that rewards extroversion and is saturated by social media. In this talk, Virgina (Gina) Thomas, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Middlebury College,  shares her research findings on why people seek solitude, how they benefit from it, and the skills they use to enjoy time alone. Dr. Thomas earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with an emphasis in Feminist Studies.  As a developmental psychologist, Dr. Thomas studies social and emotional development throughout the lifespan, especially the role of solitude in identity development and psychological well-being. Her research identifies key differences in loneliness and solitude, explores how solitary engagement with social media and digital devices affects well-being, and investigates the skills necessary to use solitude constructively. Learn more about her work at www.virginiathomas.net. Sponsored by the Middlebury chapter of AAUW.

Producer: MCTV