Looking at the reported satisfaction levels of the participants, it appears that feeling able to make the choice about whether to socialize has more of an impact on happiness than whether we decide to be alone or with other people.
Namely, the study found being in a social setting against your will has a worse effect on well-being than being alone against your will. The greatest satisfaction was seen in those who were with other people by choice–but the lowest was in those who were hanging out with people not by choice.
“Being with others is associated with desirable effects if it reinforces one’s sense of agency, and it is detrimental in the absence of control,” the researchers write in the paper.
As lead researcher Liad Uziel Ph.D. explains in a news release, previous research has shown social situations are more emotionally intense, whether you wanted to be there or not, which is why choice likely matters so much to how we experience those situations.