Why You Should Go to the Movies Alone (and Other Places)

Do you usually go to the movies alone? And the shows? How about dining at a restaurant – completely forever alone? There are those of us who would answer yes. However, there is also that kind of person who panics just thinking about sitting in the middle of the people who, contrary to him, are accompanied.

Art Gallery

Research conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that all those people who believe they will be embarrassed at a dinner party or at the movies if they go alone could be wrong. They would simply be missing out on the opportunity to do a cool activity for nothing but fear.

The research, led by a group of scientists from the University of Maryland and Georgetown, compiled data from five experiments. Four of these were questionnaires where volunteers had to answer whether they preferred to do certain activities alone or in a group, and the fifth was a real attempt to take those people out of their comfort zone.

The results showed that people prefer to do practical activities alone and hedonic activities (those oriented to pleasure and fun) accompanied. The reason, almost unanimously, is the fear of what other people will think, for example when seeing someone alone in the cinema, that that person has no friends to accompany them.

But the good news (besides the fact that this concern doesn’t make any sense) is that there are ways to make people feel more comfortable doing some hedonic activity alone. Research points out that people feel less uncomfortable when they’re alone in a coffee shop, for example, if they’re reading a book — giving them the illusion that they have a purpose.

That sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it, even for those who are afraid of being seen alone. After all, why would anyone else care about someone unaccompanied in a café/restaurant/movie theater? And why would a book, newspaper, magazine, or internet site (Martians, of course) magically shield you from the judgment of others? We publish interesting content, but we haven’t gotten to acquire those magical powers. In the latter part of the research, the scientists tried to better understand that mechanism. The volunteers were separated into small groups, or left entirely alone, and tasked with visiting an art gallery for 10 minutes.

Before leaving, participants had to point out how much fun they thought they would have and, after the visit, give a score to the experience. As expected, people who were alone said they had very low expectations of the activity – but the end result was very different from what was anticipated. Both people in groups and those who went alone had similar experiences in the gallery, showing that, despite low expectations, it is entirely possible to have fun alone.

Now scientists intend to analyze the perception of people who see someone else. Could it be that this judgment really takes place?

In any case, the researchers believe it is important to highlight that this fear of “pretending not to have friends” must be overcome even if you really have few friends. After all, going out is a way to meet people – and to avoid getting into a vicious cycle of not dating because you don’t have friends and not making friends because you don’t leave the house.

That’s why the hundreds are packed on 2×1 days.

Via NYMag



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