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Asociality is a personality trait characterised by the lack of a strong motivation to engage in social interaction and/or the preference for solitary activities. Developmental psychologists use the synonyms "nonsocial," "unsocial," and "social disinterest". Asocial is distinct from antisocial as the latter implies an active dislike or antagonism toward other people or the general social order. The condition is often confused with misanthropy.

Asociality is seen as a desirable trait in certain monastic traditions, notably in Catholicism, Buddhism and Sufism. It is lauded both as a tool of alienation from secular life and of enabling a lifestyle of uninterrupted contemplation.

A degree of asociality is routinely observed in introverts, while extreme asociality is observed in schizophrenia patients. It is characterised by an inability to 'empathise', to feel intimacy with, or to form close relationships with others (Davidson & Neale 1994).

Asociality is not necessarily perceived as a totally negative trait by society, since expressing asociality has been used as a way to express independence of the mind from prevailing ideas (dissent). Expressing asociality can also be used as a form of humour to indicate an issue (e.g. used for pointing out the exaggerations of social network services (Kahney 2004)).

Individuals in Nazi concentration camps who were deemed "asocial" were forced to wear badges with black triangles. This included the mentally disabled, the mentally ill, homeless people, alcoholics, the habitually "work-shy," prostitutes, draft dodgers and pacifists.[1]

See also


  1. The unsettled, "asocials", alcoholics and prostitutes. Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies. University of Minnesota. Retrieved September 14, 2012.

Further reading

  • Davidson, Gerald C. (1994). Abnormal Psychology, 6th Edition, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Coplan, Robert J. (2004). Do You "Want" to Play? Distinguishing Between Conflicted Shyness and Social Disinterest in Early Childhood. Developmental Psychology, 40(2), 244-258.
  • Coplan, Robert J. (2007). A ‘‘Multitude’’ of Solitude: A Closer Look at Social Withdrawal and Nonsocial Play in Early Childhood. Child Development Perspectives, 1(1), 26-32.
  • Larson, Reed W. (1990). The Solitary Side of Life: An Examination of the Time People Spend Alone from Childhood to Old Age. Developmental Review, 10(1), 155-183.
  • Leary, Mark R. (2003). Finding pleasure in solitary activities: desire for aloneness or disinterest in social contact?. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 59-68.
  • Larson, Reed W. (1990). The Solitary Side of Life: An Examination of the Time People Spend Alone from Childhood to Old Age. Developmental Review, 10(1), 155-183.
  • Jennings, Kay D. (1975). People Versus Object Orientation, Social Behavior, and Intellectual Abilities in Preschool Children. Developmental Psychology, 11(4), 511-519.

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