S1E5: Peter McGraw – The Case for Caring About People Living the Solo Life

Leeds Business Insights

Apr 6 2022 • 37 mins

Professor Peter McGraw is an expert in emotions and behavioral economics. His latest project examines single living. More and more people are choosing to live as single people – or solo people. A quarter of millennials are projected to never marry, and already, 38% of households are solo. McGraw asks how businesses and society can better serve this growing demographic as both employees and consumers. In addition to his research, he’s the host of the podcast Solo—The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life.

In this episode, Peter talks about how the workplace can be more inclusive toward singles, and missed opportunities in the marketplace.


On being “solo” vs. “single”

[00:07:47] The Solo Project, and the solo movement more generally, is about positivity. The average single person feels incomplete. They feel like they need to partner up in order to achieve something worthwhile in life. And if that doesn't happen, they often feel bad. They're embarrassed. They feel guilty. Solos, on the other hand have embraced autonomy and recognize that a partner may be welcome, but a partner will not complete them. A partner will compliment them. And so the solo mentality is that of opportunity of positivity, not just autonomy, but also adventure. And so I think that singles benefit from a positive message, a message of opportunity. What I want is for our organizations, employers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, salespeople, human resource managers, to recognize similarly, the opportunities in singles or as I call them, solo.

On respecting solo people’s time in the workplace

[00:13:47] There's often less respect for a single person's personal endeavors compared to a parent. And what happens is as a result of that, if you have a child, it's easy to get off work, it's easy to ask someone to cover for a shift, because this is an important endeavor. Well, who gets asked to cover the shift, who gets asked to work late? And that is the solo, the single person, because presumably you don't have anything better to do with your time.

Debunking the myths of selfish singles:

[00:20:28] One of the biases against singles is that they're seen as selfish. That is, that they're not willing to lean in and do the hard work of raising a family and settling down and growing up. And that couldn't be further from the truth. Singles disproportionately donate their time and money to charity. They're more involved in their communities and they're especially likely to be a sole caregiver to an elderly parent.


Guest’s Profile:

Profile at Leeds School of Business

Peter McGraw Personal Website

More About This Guest:

Solo: The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life