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Cacioppo and Hawkley (2009) have hypothesized that lonely people are hyper-vigilant to social threat, with earlier work (Jones & Carver, 1991) linking this bias specifically to threats of social rejection or social exclusion. The current study examined this hypothesis in eighty-five young adults (mean age = 18.22; SD = 0.46; 17–19 years in age) using eye-tracking methodology, which entailed recording their visual attention to social rejecting information. We found a quadratic relation between the participants’ loneliness, as assessed by the revised UCLA loneliness scale, and their visual attention to social threat immediately after presentation (2 s). In support of Cacioppo and Hawkley’s (2009) hypothesis, it was found that young adults in the upper quartile range of loneliness exhibited visual vigilance of socially threatening stimuli compared to other participants. There was no relation between loneliness and visual attention to socially threatening stimuli across an extended subsequent period of time. Implications for intervention are considered.
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... To date, electrical and functional neuroimaging studies have made many efforts to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of loneliness. For instance, early evidence, utilizing event-related potentials (ERPs) and high-density electroencephalographic (EEG), found that loneliness was associated with differentiating social threat stimuli more quickly than non-social threat stimuli and social threat stimuli vs. non-social threat stimuli evoked greater brain regions activations in participants with high loneliness, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and the para-hippocampus (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2015bCacioppo et al., , 2016, which has been construed as an attentive bias (i.e., implicit hypervigilance) to negative social information (e.g., social rejection) for lonely individuals. In addition, reduced resting-state functional connectivity of the right middle/ superior frontal gyrus to the cingulo-opercular network has been observed in lonely individuals, which might be associated with diminished executive function (Layden et al., 2017). ...
... For instance, ISS traits have been found to have a positive effect on mental health (e.g., negatively correlated with depression and anxiety) (Xia et al., 2014b(Xia et al., , 2012a(Xia et al., , 2015; and the associations of loneliness with these negative outcomes (e.g., anxiety and depression) have been also identified by immense amounts of studies (Erzen & Cikrikci, 2018;Hards et al., 2022;Maes et al., 2019). On the other hand, consistent with the psychological processes involved in loneliness, ISS traits have also been shown to affect individual attentional biases for different social information (Bangee et al., 2014;Shin & Kim, 2019;Xia et al., 2013a) and emotion regulation strategies (Xia et al., 2014a). For instance, high ISS individuals had an attentional bias toward positive interpersonal information, while low ISS individuals preferentially attended to negative interpersonal information (e.g., rejection words) (Xia et al., 2013a). ...
... For instance, greater GMV in the DLPFC has also been found to be associated with increased negative mood (Takeuchi et al., 2014); thus, the greater GMV of the DLPFC might imply more negative moods (inefficient emotion regulation) and worse self-control ability to modify interpersonal relationships, in turn, which may affect an individual's feeling of loneliness. Second, several studies using ERP or EEG found that lonely individuals showed automatic (non-conscious) attentional biases toward social threats which evoked activations in the DLPFC regions (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2015bCacioppo et al., , 2016; The possible adverse consequence is that lonely individuals may be more likely to negatively perceive the external environment and evaluate others (Qualter et al., 2015), which makes positive social interactions less and further exacerbates individual loneliness. Third, the results revealed a change in GMV of the DLPFC in the right hemisphere. ...
As a social and public health concern, loneliness is associated with an abundance of negative life outcomes such as depressive symptomatology, mortality, and sleep disturbance. Nevertheless, the neural basis underlying loneliness remains elusive; in addition, previous neuroimaging studies about loneliness mainly focused on the elderly and were limited by small sample sizes. Here, utilizing the voxel-based morphometry (VBM) approach via structural magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the association between brain GMV and loneliness in 462 young adults (67.7% females, age = 18.59 ± 1.14 years). Results from whole-brain VBM analyses revealed that individuals with higher loneliness tended to have greater GMV in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which was thought to be associated with emotional regulation deficits and executive dysfunction. Importantly, the GMV-based predictive models (a machine-learning method) demonstrated that the correlation between loneliness and GMV in the DLPFC was robust. Further, interpersonal self-support traits (ISS), a Chinese indigenous personality construct and pivotal personality factor for resisting negative life outcomes, mediated the relationship between the GMV in the right DLPFC and loneliness. Taken together, the present study reveals that the GMV in right DLPFC acts as an underlying neurostructural correlate of loneliness in the healthy brain, and further provides a brain-personality-symptom pathway for protection against loneliness in which GMV of DLPFC affects loneliness through ISS traits. Future intervention procedures aiming to decrease loneliness and enhance mental health levels among young adults should be developed through improving interpersonal relationships such as social skills training.
... Ø Data show that lonely people feel excluded even in the situation in which they are not, or they expect that they may be excluded in the future (Jones et al., 1981, as cited in Bangee et al., 2014;London et al., 2007;Qualter, Munn, 2005). They have bigger tendency, than nonlonely people, to explain social exclusion situation as their own fault and they have better capacity of recalling social events (Solano, 1987; as cited in Bangee et al., 2014;Gardner et al., 2005;Qualter, Munn, 2002). ...
... Ø Data show that lonely people feel excluded even in the situation in which they are not, or they expect that they may be excluded in the future (Jones et al., 1981, as cited in Bangee et al., 2014;London et al., 2007;Qualter, Munn, 2005). They have bigger tendency, than nonlonely people, to explain social exclusion situation as their own fault and they have better capacity of recalling social events (Solano, 1987; as cited in Bangee et al., 2014;Gardner et al., 2005;Qualter, Munn, 2002). ...
The strengths and challenges faced by multicultural couples are important to understand considering their increasing number in many countries. The cultural background, values and believes held by the partners have a crucial meaning for their relationship satisfaction. The purpose of the present review was to provide an overview of studies examining multicultural couples in relation to various aspects of their functioning, especially main areas of their cultural differences. A vide range of studies indicate that those individuals often face prejudice and disapproval from society, family, relatives and friends. As loneliness can be understood as the lack of sense of group identification and social ties or absence of social networks and contacts with relatives it is suggested that individuals in multicultural couples are in the risk of experiencing the feeling of loneliness which can affect their relationship satisfaction. Avenues for future research and implications for clinical practice are discussed.
... Les individus isolés auraient donc une appréciation des signaux différente dans la mesure où ils pourraient être plus sensibles aux indices relatifs à l'exclusion et au rejet en comparaison aux individus ne se sentant pas isolés (Cacioppo & Patrick, 2008). Les jeunes adultes socialement isolés se montrent par exemple plus vigilants face aux stimuli menaçants, en les fixant plus longuement et en présentant des schémas de mouvements visuels qui les distinguent de jeunes adultes non isolés (Bangee et al., 2014). Aussi, au cours de tâches de Stroop adaptées, les participants isolés subissent davantage l'effet d'interférence lorsqu'on leur présente des mots sociaux négativement valencés en comparaison aux participants non isolés Shin & Kim, 2019). ...
... Aussi, au cours de tâches de Stroop adaptées, les participants isolés subissent davantage l'effet d'interférence lorsqu'on leur présente des mots sociaux négativement valencés en comparaison aux participants non isolés Shin & Kim, 2019). Ce biais attentionnel viendrait de la nécessité pour l'individu de maintenir une vigilance accrue afin d'assurer son insertion sociale dans l'environnement dans la mesure où, isolé, l'homme est davantage exposé aux potentielles menaces qui l'entourent (Bangee et al, 2014). Ce biais reflète donc une tendance évolutive à maximiser le traitement des indices d'exclusion plutôt qu'à les sous-estimer. ...
Se sentir rejeté ou isolé d'une interaction sociale est une situation particulièrement douloureuse et se traduit par un ensemble de réponses affectives et comportementales (Eisenberger et al., 2003 ; Williams, 2007, 2009). Tout comme la douleur physique nous alerterait des dommages tissulaires potentiels, la douleur sociale nous signalerait des dangers de l'isolement et viserait à orienter les comportements (Ferris et al., 2019). Alors que des enquêtes récentes ont montré que le partage de la douleur physique en groupe favorise les liens interpersonnels (Whitehouse et al., 2017), aucune étude expérimentale n'a évalué si le partage de l'exclusion sociale en groupe pouvait renforcer l’identification au groupe et limiter l’impact de l’exclusion sur les besoins psychologiques. Dans cette thèse, nous avons mené six études afin de tester cette hypothèse. Les principaux résultats observés avec des groupes minimaux ont montré que partager l’exclusion avec un membre de l’endogroupe renforce l’identification avec l’endogroupe (Études 1, 2 et 3), la proximité sociale avec celui-ci (Étude 3) mais ne limite l’impact négatif et les réponses psychophysiologiques (Étude 4). Les études menées avec des groupes réels ont montré qu’une discrimination perçue moindre était associée à une plus grande satisfaction des besoins psychologiques (Étude 5), sans répliquer les effets de l’exclusion sur l’identification et la satisfaction des besoins fondamentaux au sein d’un protocole d’exclusion différent (Étude 6). Ces résultats semblent montrer que partager un épisode d’exclusion en groupe augmente les réponses identitaires et permettent de souligner le rôle de la discrimination perçue dans le lien entre exclusion et bien-être.
... Another factor of interest here is stressor type. Lonely individuals may become more sensitive to socially relevant threats (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2015Cacioppo et al., , 2016Nowland et al., 2018), implying that the relationship between loneliness and stress reactivity should be stronger for stressors involving a social element. Studies comparing responses across stressors have noted differences, though these are not consistent with the idea that loneliness is particularly relevant to social stressors; Nausheen et al. (2007) reported that greater levels of implicit loneliness predicted higher diastolic blood pressure (DBP) responses to an arithmetic task but not to a speechbased stress task. ...
... Therefore, associations between loneliness and CVR may be restricted to stressors involving explicit and/or intentionally negative forms of social evaluation. However, while this interpretation is consistent with conceptual literature on loneliness and bias toward social threat (e.g., Bangee et al., 2014), it is inconsistent with some limited empirical data demonstrating associations for asocial but not social tasks (e.g., Nausheen et al., 2007). ...
Loneliness has been linked to cardiovascular health outcomes in older adulthood. One proposed mechanism by which loneliness influences cardiovascular health is through atypical cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to stress. This study is an examination of loneliness and CVR in older adults, comparing associations across two stressors and two commonly used measures of loneliness, with a particular focus on underlying hemodynamic variables including cardiac output, total peripheral resistance, and ejection time (EJT). Eighty older adults, ranging in age from 55 to 88 years (M = 68.93, SD = 8.28), completed two versions of the UCLA loneliness scale (a 20‐item and a briefer, three‐item) and took part in a laboratory stress‐testing procedure which included a mental arithmetic challenge and a public speaking task. Cardiovascular activity was monitored continuously throughout. For the 20‐item version of the UCLA loneliness scale, loneliness was not significantly related to CVR, and was only significantly associated with lower levels of overall EJT. For the three‐item version of the UCLA, no associations withstood adjustment for multiple testing. Loneliness was not reliably associated with CVR. Further, although greater loneliness was related to lower levels of overall EJT, this was only observed for the 20‐item scale. The findings do not strongly provide support for reactivity to acute stress as a pathway linking loneliness to disease outcomes, and highlight key methodological issues related to the assessment of loneliness‐reactivity associations for future. This article provides an examination of associations between loneliness and cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to acute stress in a sample of older adults. The findings do not provide support for a reliable association between loneliness and CVR in older adults. This article highlights methodological issues that are important to consider for future in this research area.
... These effects have been interpreted as indicators of an attempt to disengage from socially derived negative emotions. Similar tendencies were found in lonely (vs non-lonely) young adults who fixate earlier on social threatening stimuli, but also avoided it after the initial exposure (Bangee et al., 2014). This notion was further corroborated by previous studies showing that disengagement and withdrawal in social settings are related to emotional problems in lonely individuals (Coplan et al., 2013;Qualter and Munn, 2002). ...
... Repetitiveness and homogeneity of stimuli might have limited participants' range of responses, which prevented eliciting an emotional reaction strong enough to fully investigate the effects of the experimental induction on reappraisal ability. Importantly, previous studies on hypervigilant attentional patterns in loneliness have provided contradictory results (Bangee et al., 2014;Lodder et al., 2015, Qualter et al., 2013. Therefore, it has been suggested that paradigms based on the static pictures might not be enough to elicit hypervigilance in lonely individuals (Spithoven et al., 2017). ...
Perceived social isolation, or loneliness, has been repeatedly linked to numerous adverse health outcomes. Much effort has been directed towards elucidating the mechanisms underlying its effects on the cardiovascular system, which may explain the deleterious effects on morbidity and mortality. It has been previously suggested that perceived social isolation can impair effective parasympathetic regulation and physiological adjustment to the demands of the social environment. Thus, the present study aimed at investigating the causal impact of an induction of loneliness on vagal activity during social stimuli processing. In the study, participants (N = 119) were led to anticipate either a future filled with satisfying relationships (Future Belong) or a lonely life (Future Alone). Then, they were asked to complete an implicit emotion regulation task while their cardiovascular activity was recorded.
In the Future Belong group, a pattern of vagal suppression was observed between the resting period and task completion, which was followed by vagal recovery during the post-task resting period. However, in the Future Alone group, a change from the baseline HRV was observed only at the beginning of the task, but not during its consecutive stages. Moreover, in participants who believed in the given FA feedback, the initial vagal suppression was absent. These findings provide evidence that even a brief induction of loneliness can result in a blunted vagal suppression during social information processing. It can be hypothesized that the lack of the ability to regulate vagal activity while processing social cues may potentially underlie problems with social engagement and self-control.
... Loneliness is associated with heightened social monitoring (Spithoven et al., 2017). For instance, children and adolescents who report loneliness are more attentive to potential social threat during eyetracking tasks than their non-lonely peers (Bangee et al., 2014;Qualter et al., 2013), and lonely adolescents are more sensitive in their detection of facial expressions of sadness and fear compared to nonlonely controls (Vanhalst et al., 2017). Moreover, lonely young adults have (i) better recall of social information compared to their non-lonely peers (Gardner et al., 2005) and (ii) their brains respond faster to signs of potential rejection in the social environment (Cacioppo et al., 2016). ...
... Given that most previous studies on social monitoring and loneliness were conducted with undergraduate students ranging from 18 years to 22 years of age, it is as yet unclear how generalizable the findings are to other demographic groups. Indeed, there is some evidence that social monitoring processes in relation to loneliness may differ between age groups (Bangee et al., 2014;Morningstar et al., 2020;Qualter et al., 2013), but there is comparatively little work examining social monitoring among middle-age and olderage adults (Qualter, Vanhalst, et al., 2015;Spithoven et al., 2017). Researchers have urged the research community to replicate prior work in samples that represent the entire life span (Böger & Huxhold, 2018;Luhmann & Hawkley, 2016). ...
Previous experimental work showed that young adults reporting loneliness performed less well on emotion recognition tasks (Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy [DANVA-2]) if they were framed as indicators of social aptitude, but not when the same tasks were framed as indexing academic aptitude. Such findings suggested that undergraduates reporting loneliness possessed the social monitoring skills necessary to read the emotions underlying others’ facial expressions, but that they choked under social pressure. It has also been found that undergraduates reporting loneliness have better recall for both positive and negative social information than their non-lonely counterparts. Whether those effects are evident across different age groups has not been examined. Using data from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Loneliness Experiment that included participants aged 16–99 years ( N = 54,060), we (i) test for replication in a larger worldwide sample and (ii) extend those linear model analyses to other age groups. We found only effects for participants aged 25–34 years: In this age group, loneliness was associated with increased recall of negative individual information, and with choking under social pressure during the emotion recognition task; those effects were small. We did not find any such effects among participants in other age groups. Our findings suggest that different cognitive processes may be associated with loneliness in different age groups, highlighting the importance of life-course approaches in this area.
... Cognitive experiments found that, when processing socially threatening stimuli, individuals high in loneliness show greater visual attention (Bangee, Harris, Bridges, Rotenberg, & Qualter, 2014;Qualter et al., 2013), higher neural response (J. T. Cacioppo, Norris, Decety, Monteleone, & Nusbaum, 2009), and faster neural process (S. ...
... The self-protective focus leads to more defensive behaviors and more negative experience in the social interactions. Consist with this hypothesis, the previous studies have shown that lonely individuals allocated more attention resources to negative social stimuli (Bangee et al., 2014;S. Cacioppo et al., 2016;Qualter et al., 2013), and perceive more negatively in social interaction (Hawkley et al., 2007;Qualter et al., 2013). ...
Loneliness is associated with many physical and mental health problems, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Studies on trait loneliness have found evidence supporting the hypothesis that loneliness is associated with hypervigilance for social threats. However, few studies have examined this hypothesis with state loneliness. This study aims at testing the hypervigilance hypothesis of loneliness by examining the temporal dynamics between state loneliness and the momentary affect in daily life. We measured state loneliness and momentary positive and negative affect in 211 college students over a period of 13 days, using the experience sampling method. The network analysis revealed that state loneliness has a strong autoregressive effect and is positively correlated to sadness, fear, alertness, and hostility in the temporal and contemporaneous networks. In the temporal network, state loneliness formed mutually reinforced feedback loops with the feelings of alertness and hostility. The between-subject network suggested that the feeling of fear mediated the connections between loneliness and alertness, hostility, and anxiety. The centrality analysis showed that loneliness has a high strength centrality in the temporal and contemporaneous networks. These findings demonstrate how state loneliness interacted with momentary affect in daily life, indicating its association with emotional hypervigilance.
... For young adults, the negative impact is experienced more frequently by those with higher levels of loneliness (van Roekel et al. 2016). In addition to increased negative responses, compared to non-lonely young adults, lonely young adults are more aware of negative social interactions such as being ignored by peers and distanced body language (Bangee et al. 2014). Those who are in the highest quartile of loneliness have a unique visual attention pattern and are more hyper-vigilant with social threats (Bangee et al. 2014). ...
... In addition to increased negative responses, compared to non-lonely young adults, lonely young adults are more aware of negative social interactions such as being ignored by peers and distanced body language (Bangee et al. 2014). Those who are in the highest quartile of loneliness have a unique visual attention pattern and are more hyper-vigilant with social threats (Bangee et al. 2014). ...
Scant research exists on those who classify as involuntarily celibate. Research in the past has focused on groups such as people celibate in marriage, those with chronic disease or illness, and the elderly. However, the recent media attention given to involuntary celibate males, or “incels,” and their role in violence against women has gained national attention. Research on involuntary celibates has found a new group of individuals emerging who have a strong desire for a sexual connection and are disturbed by the lack of interpersonal sexuality in their lives. With the gap in literature surrounding the perceptions of this new group of “incels”, and their relationship to violence against women, the goal of this research was to use the “r/Braincels” Subreddit to answer the research question “what are the shared experiences, sentiments, and expressions of people who self-define as incels?” This study followed thematic content analysis methodological guidelines designed for obtaining data from Reddit and identifying specific extraction criteria. Themes identified and discussed include a constructed trope of women, the patriarchally-informed male ideal, hypocritical approaches to gender, and the incel identity. Implications include the need for increased education regarding healthy relationships in schools, creation of incel-specific group therapy, and more research to identify red flags regarding incel identity and its relationship to violent acts.
... In some cases, however, loneliness becomes enduring, possibly due to negative social cognition or social withdrawal [9,61]. When experienced chronically, loneliness is associated with a state of vigilance in which a person monitors their belonging and ruminates on their perceived lack of social connection . Belongingness is a fundamental human need and when thwarted, the disconnection between social needs, desires, and perceived availability of social resources can lead to depression . ...
Major depression (MD) is a serious psychiatric illness afflicting nearly 5% of the world’s population. A large correlational literature suggests that loneliness is a prospective risk factor for MD; correlational assocations of this nature may be confounded for a variety of reasons. This report uses Mendelian Randomization (MR) to examine potentially causal associations between loneliness and MD. We report on analyses using summary statistics from three large genome wide association studies (GWAS). MR analyses were conducted using three independent sources of GWAS summary statistics. In the first set of analyses, we used available summary statistics from an extant GWAS of loneliness to predict MD risk. We used two sources of outcome data: the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) meta-analysis of MD (PGC-MD; N = 142,646) and the Million Veteran Program (MVP-MD; N = 250,215). Finally, we reversed analyses using data from the MVP and PGC samples to identify risk variants for MD and used loneliness outcome data from UK Biobank. We find robust evidence for a bidirectional causal relationship between loneliness and MD, including between loneliness, depression cases status, and a continuous measure of depressive symptoms. The estimates remained significant across several sensitivity analyses, including models that account for horizontal pleiotropy. This paper provides the first genetically-informed evidence that reducing loneliness may play a causal role in decreasing risk for depressive illness, and these findings support efforts to reduce loneliness in order to prevent or ameliorate MD. Discussion focuses on the public health significance of these findings, especially in light of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
... Lonely individuals show a negative interpretation bias, which means that they interpret their social environment more negatively than non-lonely individuals (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). For example, compared to non-lonely individuals, lonely individuals rate their relationships with others more negatively (Heinrich & Gullone, 2006), expect that others will reject them (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009), and show a hypervigilance towards social threats (Bangee et al., 2014). This negative interpretation bias may make lonely adolescents perceive their parents' behaviors as more unfavorable, and thus initiate the relationship erosion process in lonely adolescents. ...
A broad range of factors have been associated with the development of adolescent loneliness. In the family context, a lack of parental support and high levels of parental psychological control have systematically been linked to loneliness. On the biological level, DNA methylation (which is an epigenetic process that suppresses gene expression) is believed to play a role in the development of loneliness. Specifically, high levels of DNA methylation in genes that play an important role in the functioning of the human stress response system are believed to elevate the risk of loneliness. Moreover, DNA methylation levels in these stress-related genes can be influenced by stressful environmental factors, suggesting a potential mediating role of DNA methylation in the association between parenting behaviors and loneliness. The current 3-year longitudinal study is the first study to examine the potential bidirectional longitudinal associations between loneliness, DNA methylation in stress-related genes, and both perceived parental support and psychological control. Furthermore, we explored the potential mediating role of DNA methylation in stress-related genes in the associations between perceived parenting and loneliness. The sample comprised 622 early adolescents (55% girls, Mage T1 = 10.77 years, SDage T1 = 0.48) who were followed from Grade 5 to 7. Parental support, psychological control, and loneliness were assessed annually by adolescent self-report questionnaires and DNA methylation was determined from saliva samples. Cross-Lagged Panel Models (CLPM) revealed that higher levels of loneliness predicted lower perceived parental support and higher perceived psychological control over time, as well as higher DNA methylation in some stress-related genes, that is, the glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In addition, higher NR3C1 methylation was predictive of lower perceived parental support and higher psychological control over time. No evidence was found for a mediating role of DNA methylation. Overall, our longitudinal findings challenge the current focus on DNA methylation and parenting behaviors as risk factors for adolescent loneliness. Instead, they suggest that the less considered direction of effects, which implies that loneliness predicts DNA methylation and aspects of parenting such as support and psychological control, should receive greater attention in future research.
... Furthermore, problems with social cognition and social skills may contribute to social exclusion and other problems with social functioning (Fett et al., 2011;Halverson et al., 2019;Turner et al., 2018). Loneliness has been suggested to enhance vigilance for social threat and therefore, it is possible that loneliness intensifies psychotic symptoms, specifically paranoid delusions (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2006). Others showed that social exclusion and isolation can lead to the occurrence of psychotic experiences, and paranoid delusions in particular (Graeupner and Coman, 2017;Selten and Cantor-Graae, 2005). ...
The role of loneliness and social exclusion in the development of paranoia is largely unexplored. Negative affect may mediate potential associations between these factors. We investigated the temporal relationships of daily-life loneliness, felt social exclusion, negative affect, and paranoia across the psychosis continuum.
Seventy-five participants, including 29 individuals with a diagnosis of non-affective psychosis, 20 first-degree relatives, and 26 controls used an Experience Sampling Method (ESM) app to capture the fluctuations in loneliness, feelings of social exclusion, paranoia, and negative affect across a 1-week period. Data were analysed with multilevel regression analyses.
In all groups, loneliness and feelings of social exclusion were independent predictors of paranoia over time (b = 0.05, p < .001 and b = 0.04, p < .05, respectively). Negative affect predicted paranoia (b = 0.17, p < .001) and partially mediated the associations between loneliness, social exclusion, and paranoia. It also predicted loneliness (b = 0.15, p < .0001), but not social exclusion (b = 0.04, p = .21) over time. Paranoia predicted social exclusion over time, with more pronounced effects in controls (b = 0.43) than patients (b = 0.19; relatives: b = 0.17); but not loneliness (b = 0.08, p = .16).
Paranoia and negative affect worsen in all groups following feelings of loneliness and social exclusion. This highlights the importance of a sense of belonging and being included for mental well-being. Loneliness, feeling socially excluded, and negative affect were independent predictors of paranoid thinking, suggesting they represent useful targets in its treatment.
Since the experience of love and close relationships is one of the most important aspects of human life, man defines his existence by diverse relationships. The congruence of expected and received forms of love transmission is important. This study verifies whether there is a relationship between the forms of showing love and the sense of loneliness in a group of young adults. Methods: The study used the Forms of Expressions of Love Questionnaire (FOREM) designed by M. Rys and colleagues, and the R-UCLA Loneliness Scale, a Polish adaptation of Russell, Peplau and Cutrona’s tool, developed by M. Kwiatkowska, R. Rogoza and K. Kwiatkowska. The survey with the participation of 73 women and 73 men was conducted online. The youngest person was 18 years old, and the oldest –34 (Max = 34). The average age of the subjects was just under 24 (M = 23.99). Results: The results of correlation analysis with the application of Kendall’s Tau-b coefficient proved to be statistically significant for the associations of all subscales of feelings of loneliness and the overall score of this variable, with the discrepancy between expected and received forms of love in terms of help and time. All statistically significant correlations were positive, meaning that the greater the discrepancy between the expected and received form of love, the higher the sense of loneliness. The strongest statistically significant correlation was that of the dimension of help with the dimensions of belonging and affiliation (Tau-b = 0.247; p < 0.01) while the weakest was the correlation of the dimension of time with the dimension of social others (Tau-b = 0.131; p < 0.05). Conclusions: The results of the study indicate that young adults do not experience love in the expected forms regarding affectionate touch, help from the other person and time devoted to them. The greater the discrepancy between the expected and received forms of love, the higher the feelings of loneliness among young adults.
... Both theories posit that changes in affective processes underlie many of the negative effects of loneliness, particularly because abnormal or context-inappropriate emotional responses can impair functioning and increase vulnerability to psychopathology [37,38]. Behavioral studies indicate lonely individuals are more vigilant towards (social) threat [25,, including increased attention to images of social rejection and threat as measured by eye tracking [43,44]; more likely to mislabel emotional expressions as negative ; and faster to identify negative emotional faces (including angry , sad, and fearful faces ). Additionally, loneliness is associated with poorer sleep quality [48,49]; increases in depression and negative affect [5,24,50,51]; increased activation of the hypothalamuspituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a role in the body's response to stress (particularly through increased release of glucocorticoids including cortisol [11,52,53]); and increased circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory compounds (e.g., interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen [11,). Inflammation may be an important mechanism linking the disrupted affective processes associated with loneliness to negative health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease , as well as the greater risk of long COVID associated with loneliness . ...
Loneliness, or the subjective feeling of social isolation, is an important social determinant of health. Loneliness is associated with poor physical health, including higher rates of cardiovascular disease and dementia, faster cognitive decline, and increased risk of mortality, as well as disruptions in mental health, including higher levels of depression, anxiety, and negative affect. Theoretical accounts suggest loneliness is a complex cognitive and emotional state characterized by increased levels of inflammation and affective disruptions. This review examines affective neuroscience research on social isolation in animals and loneliness in humans to better understand the relationship between perceptions of social isolation and the brain. Loneliness associated increases in inflammation and neural changes consistent with increased sensitivity to social threat and disrupted emotion regulation suggest interventions targeting maladaptive social cognitions may be especially effective. Work in animal models suggests the neural changes associated with social isolation may be reversible. Therefore, ameliorating loneliness may be an actionable social determinant of health target. However, more research is needed to understand how loneliness impacts healthy aging, explore the role of inflammation as a potential mechanism in humans, and determine the best time to deliver interventions to improve physical health, mental health, and well-being across a diverse array of populations.
... Although the experience of loneliness varies between people, it emerges because one's need for social connection is unfulfilled (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). The felt absence of connection has marked effects on the cognitive and affective processing of social signals (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2015). Identifying these perceptual and attentional changes led to altered social functioning resulting from deficits in social perception (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). ...
Loneliness is associated with differences in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) within and between large-scale networks in early and middle-aged adult cohorts. However, age-related changes in associations between sociality and brain function into late adulthood are not well understood. Here, we examined age differences in the association between two dimensions of sociality—loneliness and empathic responding—and RSFC of the cerebral cortex. Self-report measures of loneliness and empathic capacity were inversely related across the entire sample of younger (mean age = 22.6y, n = 128) and older (mean age = 69.0y, n = 92) adults. Using multivariate analyses of multi-echo fMRI RSFC, we identified distinct functional connectivity patterns for individual and age-group differences associated with loneliness and empathic responding. Loneliness in young and empathy in both age groups was related to greater visual network integration with association networks (e.g., default, frontoparietal control). In contrast, loneliness was positively related to within and between network integration of association networks for older adults. These results extend our previous findings in early and middle-aged cohorts, demonstrating that brain systems associated with loneliness, as well as empathy, differ in older age. Further, the findings suggest that these two aspects of social experience engage different neurocognitive processes across human lifespan development.
... Social support has been broadly conceptualized as the degree to which people in our social networks are responsive to our needs in the present and perceived to be responsive in the future (10). Social support includes received and perceived social support. ...
Identifying which factors influence depressive symptom during the COVID-19 pandemic is highly significant for psychological crisis interventions among adolescents. Social support is likely to be one of the main factors. However, the underlying mechanism is still not well understood in the context of COVID-19. The current study examines whether loneliness and meaning in life mediate the association between social support and depressive symptoms in adolescents. A sample of 1,317 high school students in China were surveyed using the Perceived Social Support Scale, the Chinese Child Loneliness Scale, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, and the Beck Depression Inventory-II. The results showed that social support predicted depressive symptoms directly and indirectly by enhancing loneliness and diminishing the sense of meaning in life. These findings help in providing new entry points in the design of effective depression prevention and intervention for adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
... Studies on attentional functioning that used the Stroop task, an eye tracker, or neuroimaging methods showed biased attentional processing in the lonely (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2016;Egidi et al., 2008, as cited in Bangee, & Qualter, 2018). Lonely participants exhibit speeded processing of socially threatening stimuli; they are also more likely than the less lonely to fixate first on socially threatening stimuli. ...
Three studies (total N = 501) showed a negative association between loneliness and the emotion of being moved. People who were lonelier than others consistently reported a weaker feeling of being moved after experimental manipulation. These results appeared both when the participants were presented with selected stimuli (video clips paradigm in Study 1 and Study 3) and when they were allowed to freely recall moving episodes from their past (episode paradigm in Study 2). This associa- tion remained reliable after controlling for depression, empathy, and initial mood. The more lonely the participants in Study 1 were, the less they considered themselves susceptible to being moved in everyday life. The results of Study 3 suggest that the association between loneliness and being moved is mediated by lonely people’s lack of faith in others’ goodwill and altru- ism. The results are discussed from the perspective of the potential causes and effects of loneliness and also in the context of the determinants of being moved.
... Existing research examining lonely individuals would be related to high paying attention to social targets in the environment, it could be used to prevent social exclusion and promote opportunity in society [16,36,37]. The goal of the present study was to examine the experimental hypothesis that the implicit attentional bias to negative emotions differs between lonely and non-lonely individuals, in contrast to nonsocial images, using social stimulus (emotional face) and non-social stimulus (buildings) categories were identified, and ERP analysis was performed on high-density EEG data. ...
Loneliness refers to an unhappy or depressed negative emotion in which individuals feel poor intimacy in quantity or quality in current social relationships. It is not only common among the elderly, but also widely among young adults. In this study, we investigated the effects of loneliness on visual attention of social and non-social stimuli.
Materials and Methods
Here, two different category judgments (emotions and buildings) were separately used to investigate the cognitive differences of individuals with loneliness when faced different (social and non-social) stimulus. Mixed design variance analysis was used to analyze the behavioral differences between the lonely group and the non-lonely group, and ERP technology was used to analyze the brain activity differences between the lonely group and the non-lonely group during the experiment.
Finally, Results showed that not only the behavioral response of lonely individuals to negative emotions was significantly faster than non-lonely individuals, but also the N170 latency was significantly shorter, and the amplitude of left hemisphere P100 was significantly higher. These findings indicated that lonely individuals had attentional bias for negative emotions. This bias was manifested as early attention enhancement and middle attention alertness.
The present research further sheds light on the neral mechanisms of visual attentional bias in lonely individuals.
... From the neurobiological and evolutionary perspective, loneliness could be an aversive biological signal that urges the lonely individual to repair existing or seek new social connections (Cacioppo and Cacioppo, 2018;. As such, lonely people are characterised by enhanced attention bias and hypervigilance to negative socio-affective stimuli (Bangee et al., 2014). They also demonstrate bias in negative processing and memories of social situations . ...
Loneliness is strongly related to affective dysregulation. However, the neuropsychological mechanisms underpinning the loneliness-affective processing relationships remain unclear. Here, we first utilised the coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation method and confirmed functional clusters that are significantly related to loneliness includes striatum, superior and medial frontal gyrus, insula, and cuneus. Meta-analytic connectivity modelling was then performed to characterise the functional connectivity of these clusters across studies of emotion tasks. Our results revealed that these clusters co-activated with the cognitive control networks. From the literature, we understand that loneliness and its neural correlates are highly related to regulating the attention biases to social rewards and social cues. Therefore, the current meta-analysis provides proof-of-concept that loneliness up-regulates the cognitive control networks to process socio-affective information. Prolonged up-regulation thus exhausts cognitive resources and hence, affective dysregulation. This study offers insight into the intricate role of cognitive and affective regulation in loneliness and social perception. It provides meta-analytic evidence to support the cognitive control model of loneliness and loneliness-related affective dysregulation, bringing significant clinical implications.
... However, loneliness also appears to have negative consequences, such as negative attributional biases, which increase an individual's focus on social threats and rejective social content. It has been shown that lonely people pay more visual attention to socially threatening stimuli (Bangee et al., 2014), and that they are quicker to differentiate socially threatening from non-threatening stimuli (Cacioppo et al., 2016). This enhanced attention to negative social stimuli can lead to a vicious cycle of loneliness, in which negative attributional biases enforce the perception of social threats, making it difficult to trust and to obtain social relationships (Cacioppo and Hawkley, 2005). ...
Loneliness is common in psychosis and occurs along a continuum. Here we investigate inter-relationships between loneliness, three-dimensional schizotypy, and depressive symptoms before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sample included 507 university students (48.3% participated before and 51.7% during the COVID-19 pandemic) who completed the Multidimensional Schizotypy Scale-Brief, the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms depression scale and the University of California, Los Angeles Loneliness Scale. Schizotypy and depression scores were regressed onto loneliness individually and in multiple regressions.
The cohorts did not differ in any of the schizotypy domains (all p > .29). Depressive symptoms (p = .05) and loneliness (p = .006) were higher during the pandemic than before. Across cohorts, loneliness was significantly associated with positive (β = 0.23, p < .001), negative (β = 0.44, p < .001), and disorganised schizotypy (β = 0.44, p < .001), and with depression (β = 0.72, p < .001). Schizotypy together explained a significant amount of variance in loneliness (R² = 0.26), with significant associations with positive (β = −0.09, p = .047), negative (β = 0.31, p < .001) and disorganised schizotypy (β = 0.34, p < .001). When depression was included (β = 0.69, p < .001), only positive (β = −0.09, p = .008) and negative schizotypy (β = 0.22, p < .001) significantly predicted loneliness.
When all schizotypy dimensions and depression were considered together, only negative schizotypy and depression significantly predicted loneliness. Loneliness and depressive symptoms were higher during the pandemic, but this did not relate to cohort differences in schizotypy.
... Firstly, behavioural inhibition is an important risk factor for the development of pathological anxiety in youths . Adolescents tend to be more susceptible to feeling more anxious and impatient if they perceive a poor support system around them . As mentioned above, feelings of loneliness motivate people to build a connection or reconnection with others, thereby abolishing social isolation. ...
Loneliness is a distressing feeling that can be a barrier to a student’s development and affect their mental health. This research aimed to analyse the effects of loneliness on psychological and behavioral factors among students aged 12–19 years in Spain. Loneliness, experiential avoidance, psychological inflexibility, physical activity, mobile phone use, and smoke habits were analysed in a sample of 110 men and 122 women assigned into two groups depending on their loneliness levels: higher loneliness group (HLG) and lower loneliness group (LLG). Results showed that experimental avoidance and psychological inflexibility were related with loneliness (r = 0.471; p = 0.000). Experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility were higher in HLG than LLG. Regarding the use of mobile phones and smoking habits, LLG presented significantly higher values than HLG. Higher age correlated with lower loneliness values (r = −0.155; p = 0.017). The present research found how students with higher loneliness presented higher experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility and lower age, use of mobile phone, and smoking habits. These findings reveal the importance of considering multiple social behaviours when examining adolescent mental health factors.
... For example, loneliness has been linked to the cognitive processes that affect how the social world is perceived (Spithoven et al., 2017). People with higher ratings of loneliness have been noted to have a hypervigilance to social threats (Bangee et al., 2014;Qualter et al., 2013). Loneliness has also been linked to a tendency to expect rejection in social contexts (Watson & Nesdale, 2012;Zimmer-Gembeck et al., 2014) and to exhibit higher levels of negative emotions (e.g., sadness) when faced with scenarios detailing exclusion and lower levels of positive emotions (e.g., happiness) when faced with scenarios describing inclusion and social connection . ...
Loneliness is an adverse emotional reaction thought to stem from an unwanted and impoverished social situation. Though it commonly makes brief appearances across the lifespan for most people, it has received increasing attention as a factor relevant to somatic and psychological well-being when assuming a more chronic form. For this reason, developing ways of alleviating loneliness is an important item on the research agenda tied to this phenomenon. Psychological interventions, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in particular, have been proposed to have potential for this. This thesis sought to evaluate the effects of two different kinds of internet-based interventions targeting loneliness: one based on CBT, and one based on interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
In addition to this general aim, Study I also investigated the presence of different subgroups in the sample of people seeking help within the framework of projects. Using the statistical method known as Latent Profile Analysis we discovered five profiles consisting of symptoms of common psychiatric disorders and loneliness. The profiles mainly differed as a function of symptom severity, though one of the larger groups was also characterised primarily by their high ratings of social anxiety. The results suggest that the sample seeking help for their loneliness can exhibit both clinical and non-clinical levels of common mental health problems.
Study II served as the pilot evaluation of an ICBT programme for loneliness. A total of 73 participants were included in a randomised controlled trial where the participants were randomised to either 8 weeks of active treatment or a wait-list control group. The results indicated significantly lower loneliness ratings after the treatment phase for the ICBT condition with a moderate-to-large effect size compared to the control group. Significant differences favouring the ICBT condition were also noted for two of the four secondary measures.
Study III followed up on the participants two years after the conclusion of the initial treatment period. At this point, the control group had also received access to a version of the ICBT programme with therapist support on-demand. The results indicated that the decrease in loneliness was sustained, along with similarly lasting effects on the secondary outcomes of interest.
Study IV aimed to replicate the findings from the second study with a similar ICBT programme. However, this study also employed an internet-based IPT intervention to allow for conclusions regarding the possibility of reducing loneliness by other means than CBT. A sample of 170 participants were recruited and randomised to one the treatment conditions or to a waitlist control group. The results indicated that the ICBT condition had a significantly steeper reduction in loneliness than both the waitlist and the IPT condition after the conclusion of the treatment. Both active conditions produced a significant increase in quality of life.
In conclusion, internet-based psychological interventions can be efficacious for reducing loneliness, though the efficacy was only found for participants who received access to the ICBT condition in Study II and IV. The benefits from this treatment programme were sustained up to two years after the conclusion of the intervention. For these reasons, ICBT is proposed to be a good candidate for offering help to people experiencing distressing feelings of loneliness.
... Bangee, Harris, Bridges, Rotenberg, & Qualter, 2014;Cacioppo, Balogh, & Cacioppo, 2015;Cacioppo et al., 2016;Qualter et al., 2013). Hypersensitivity to social threat has been shown to be a reliable predictor of loneliness among participants of both individualistic and collectivist cultures(Creemers, Scholte, Engels, Prinstein, & Wiers, 2012;Kong & You, 2013) and in both younger and older participants(Kuyper & Fokkema, 2010; Vanhalst, Luyckx, Scholte, Engels, & Goossens, 2013). ...
... Studies on the effect of loneliness on quality of life have found that perceived loneliness serves as a risk factor for various physiological and health outcomes. Specifically, loneliness majorly contributes to the development of depression symptoms Bangee et al., 2014). For example, a 5-year longitudinal study showed a temporal association between perceived loneliness levels and subsequent depression severity, so that loneliness predicted increases in depressive symptoms regardless of other factors such as demographic variables, objective social isolation, stress, dispositional negativity or social support . ...
This study aimed to define the psychological markers for future development of depression symptoms following the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on previous studies, we focused on loneliness, intolerance of uncertainty and emotion estimation biases as potential predictors of elevated depression levels. During the general lockdown in April 2020, 551 participants reported their psychological health by means of various online questionnaires and an implicit task. Out of these participants, 129 took part in a second phase in June 2020. Subjective loneliness during the lockdown rather than objective isolation was the strongest predictor of symptoms of depression 5 weeks later. Younger age and health related worry also predicted higher non-clinical levels of depression and emotional distress. The results support the diathesis-stress model, which posits that a combination of preexisting vulnerabilities along with stressors such as negative life events are among the factors affecting the development of psychopathology. Moreover, our results correspond with those of previous studies conducted worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taken together, these findings call for focusing on psychological factors, especially among younger people, to identify individuals at risk for future development of depression and to promote new strategies for prevention.
... The psychological state of loneliness is associated with a range of neurological, cognitive, and behavioural effects (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). The Hypervigilance to Social Threat hypothesis proposes that loneliness activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Bangee, Harris, Bridges, Rotenberg, & Qualter, 2014;Qualter et al., 2013). For lonely individuals, this hypervigilance is specifically for identifying and attending to social threats whereby they are predisposed to interpret ambiguous social stimuli as threatening (Bangee & Qualter, 2018). ...
Levels of loneliness across the world have reached epidemic proportions, and their impact upon population health is increasingly apparent. In response, policies and initiatives have attempted to reduce loneliness by targeting social isolation among residents of local communities. Yet, little is known about the social psychological processes underpinning the relationships between community belonging, loneliness, and well‐being. We report three studies which apply the Social Identity Approach to Health to examine the mechanisms underpinning the relationships between community identity, health, and loneliness. Hypotheses were tested through secondary analyses of the 2014–2015 UK Community Life Survey (N = 4,314) as well as bespoke household surveys in a more (N = 408) and less (N = 143) affluent community at high risk of loneliness. Studies 1 and 2a demonstrated that the relationship between community identification and well‐being was mediated by increased social support and reduced loneliness. In Study 2b, community identification predicted well‐being through reduced loneliness, but not through social support. Our results are the first to evidence these relationships and suggest that community‐level interventions that enhance community identification and peer support can promote a potential Social Cure for loneliness.
... The third of our hypotheses (H3) was also supported, namely that the negative aspect of peer relationships (disliking) affects (indirectly) both loneliness and depressive symptoms more strongly than the positive one (liking). This result is consistent with the tendency of early adolescents to pay selective attention to negative social cues (Bangee, Harris, Bridges, Rotenberg, & Qualter, 2014), remember more of the negative aspects of social events (Duck et al. 1994), have difficulties diverting attention away from those cues and become more likely to behave in ways that confirm their negative expectations. Research (Ciarrochi & Heaven, 2008) indicates that a negative cognitive style allows for the longitudinal prediction of sadness, which is the basic characteristic of both loneliness (Asher & Weeks, 2012), and depression (Beck & Alford, 2009). ...
Previous research shows that deficits in social relationships increase the risk of depression. This study tests the hypothesis that among early adolescents, their status in their peer network (likeability/dislikeability) will be associated with depressive symptoms but only indirectly, through the subjective perception of this status (positive/negative metaperception) and loneliness (feeling of social isolation). Data were collected using sociometric methods and self-report scales from 388 students aged 12–13. Path analysis was applied to verify the hypothesized relationships between the study variables. The findings indicate that: (1) status in the peer network and its perception affect depressive symptoms only indirectly, through loneliness; (2) depressive symptoms depend directly on loneliness alone; (3) status in the peer network does not directly translate into loneliness—its effect is mediated by metaperception; (4) the negative dimension of the peer network status indirectly affects both loneliness and depressive symptoms more strongly than the positive one. The main limitation of the research is its cross-sectional design, which precludes definite conclusions about the direction of the relationships observed. The results obtained help to clarify the complex mechanisms through which objective status in the peer network, its subjective perception and feelings of loneliness contribute to the severity of depressive symptoms among early adolescents. On the practical side, the findings highlight the importance of developing and implementing interventions targeting both the objective and subjective aspects of social relations for the prevention of depression in this age group.
... The results revealed that loneliness is associated with cognitive biases in various stages of social information processing. For example, in a study using eye-tracking techniques assessing early attention, participants viewed short video clips depicting socially positive and negative interpersonal interactions (Bangee, Harris, Bridges, Rotenberg, & Qualter, 2014). The results showed that lonely participants were more likely to fixate faster on the socially threatening stimuli than non-lonely controls. ...
Loneliness is a growing public health problem. Lonely individuals show a characteristic negative bias in the cognitive processing of socioemotional information. In the current study, we tested the effects of a novel computerized feedback-based interpretation training on socioemotional information processing. Lonely and non-lonely participants were assigned equally to training groups. During interpretation training, the promotion training group learned to associate subthreshold fearful and neutral expressions with socially more favorable labels than less favorable ones. The control training group learned to associate the same facial expressions with socially less favorable labels. After training, participants performed three socioemotional tasks. Results revealed that promotion training reduced associations between loneliness and recognition of anger and fear in lonely participants. In addition, compared to control training, promotion training significantly increased the likelihood of evaluating surprise expressions as positive rather than negative. This positive evaluation bias toward surprise faces increased in lonely participants with greater promotion learning. However, only non-lonely participants showed increased willingness to approach an unfamiliar female face after promotion training relative to control training. Despite this limitation, the findings demonstrate the potential of our novel feedback-based interpretation training in mitigating characteristic processing of socioemotional information among lonely people.
... Previous research suggests that biased social cognitions are one of the most pronounced characteristics of loneliness (31). Predominantly, surveillance of social environment appears to be enhanced, with lonely individuals sensing socially threatening stimuli earlier than their non-lonely peers (96). The evidence for deficits in social cognition of PDD patients is scarce (6). ...
Background: Interpersonal difficulties are a key feature of persistent depressive disorder (PDD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Caught in a vicious circle of dysfunctional interpersonal transaction, PDD and BPD patients are at great risk of experiencing prolonged loneliness. Loneliness, in turn, has been associated with the development of mental disorders and chronic illness trajectories. Besides, several factors may contribute to the experience of loneliness across the lifespan, such as social network characteristics, a history of childhood maltreatment (CM), and cognitive-affective biases such as rejection sensitivity (RS). This cross-diagnostic study approached the topic of perceived loneliness by comparing PDD and BPD patients with healthy controls (HC) in its interplay with symptom burden, social network characteristics, RS as well as CM.
Method: Thirty-four PDD patients (DSM-5; 15 female, Mage = 38.2, SD = 12.3), 36 BPD patients (DSM-5; 19 female, Mage = 28.8, SD = 9.2), and 70 age- and gender-matched HC were assessed cross-sectionally using the following self-report measures: UCLA Loneliness Scale, Social Network Index (SNI; size, diversity, and embeddedness), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), Borderline Symptom List (BSL-23), Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), and Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (RSQ).
Results: Both patient groups reported significantly higher levels of perceived loneliness, symptom severity, and smaller social network characteristics compared to HC. Loneliness was significantly correlated with severity of self-reported clinical symptoms in PDD and at trend level in BPD. Besides, loneliness tended to be related to social network characteristics for all groups except PDD patients. Both PDD and BPD patients showed higher RS as well as CTQ scores than HC. A history of emotional abuse and emotional neglect was associated with loneliness, and this association was mediated by RS as demonstrated by an exploratory mediation analysis.
Discussion: Loneliness is highly prevalent in PDD and BPD patients and contributes to the overall symptom burden. Interestingly, loneliness showed an association with prior experiences of CM as well as current RS. We therefore propose a comprehensive model on how intra- und interpersonal aspects may interplay in the dynamics of loneliness in light of CM. Finally, this model may have further implications for psychotherapeutic interventions.
... The VOE framework is based on the premise that young children tend to fixate at events that violate their expectation for a longer amount of time than at events that do not. In both adult  and infant  populations, contemporary researchers have used eye-tracking technology to measure changes in the eyes, such as fixation timing and pupil dilation, in response to experimental tasks. For instance, pupil dilation and constriction in adult participants varied as a function of the presentation of pictures with different emotional valence . ...
Fixation time measures have been widely adopted in studies with infants and young children because they can successfully tap on their meaningful nonverbal behaviors. While recording preverbal children's behavior is relatively simple, analysis of collected signals requires extensive manual preprocessing. In this paper, we investigate the possibility of using different Machine Learning (ML)-a Linear SVC, a Non-Linear SVC, and K-Neighbors-classifiers to automatically discriminate between Usable and Unusable eye fixation recordings. Results of our models show an accuracy of up to the 80%, suggesting that ML tools can help human researchers during the preprocessing and labelling phase of collected data.
... Similarly, it has been found that loneliness is strongly associated with markers of threat surveillance (Mendes et al., 2002). This is in line with imaging studies that have linked loneliness to greater activation of visual cortex in response to negative social images ) and eye tracking research that has shown that lonely individuals are more likely to spend a greater proportion of their time fixating on socially threatening stimuli in a social scene (Bangee et al., 2014). ...
The highly contagious 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has not only impacted health systems, economies, and governments, it has also rapidly grown into a global health crisis, which is now threatening the lives of millions of people globally. While, on one hand, medical institutions are critically attempting to find a cure, on the other hand, governments have introduced striking measures and policies to curtail the rapid spread of the disease. Although COVID-19 has achieved pandemic status and is predominantly viewed as a biomedical issue, it is argued that it should also be treated as a psychological crisis. This paper also reviews the literature to examine and comment on the detrimental effects of isolation, which has been enforced as one of the primary preventative measures to manage the spread of COVID-19. This paper further outlines key recommendations that should be addressed across different levels to buffer against the known adverse effects of isolation, which is especially relevant for the current COVID-19 situation, where a large proportion of the global population is isolated, confined, and/or quarantined.
... Furthermore, loneliness has been shown to influence social cognition in a multitude of ways. For example, relative to their non-lonely counterparts, lonely children and adults are more attentive to socially threatening stimuli conveying interpersonal rejection and mistreatment (Bangee et al. 2014;Qualter et al. 2013). In addition, loneliness is associated with increased incidental social memory and heightened decoding of social cues in faces and voices (Gardner et al. 2005). ...
Loneliness reflects a threat to people’s need to belong in close relationships, and is associated with lower self-esteem and emotional distress. The current 2-week daily diary study examined memory and prospection, or future oriented thinking, as potential mediators of these psychological responses to loneliness. Results suggest that daily loneliness biased people’s memories of inclusion that occurred yesterday and predictions of inclusion that will occur tomorrow and in the general future. People remembered more exclusion in the past and expected more exclusion in the future on days they felt lonely, independently of whether they actually were or would be excluded. Relative to memories, predictions of future exclusion appeared to be more biased by current loneliness and less accurate. In turn, biases involving predictions of future exclusion mediated effects of loneliness on daily self-esteem and positive affect, but not negative affect, suggesting that experiences of loneliness are associated with lower psychological well-being (i.e., lower self-esteem and reduced positive affect) partly because people tend to project those experiences into the future. Biases involving memories of past inclusion did not mediate the effects of daily loneliness on these outcomes. Both memories and forecasts of inclusion mediated the effects of trait loneliness on self-esteem and positive affect but not negative affect, suggesting that chronically lonely people may experience lower self-esteem and fewer positive emotions, in part, because of their tendencies to predict and remember social exclusion. Implications of these findings for understanding psychological responses to belongingness threats are discussed.
... non-lonely) participants are more willing to empathize with someone who experiences positive states, which increases perceived social support and in turn decreases their perceived loneliness. However, hypervigilance to social information depends on the emotional valence of expressions (Bangee et al., 2014). Experiment 2 was conducted to investigate the interaction effect of the valence of empathy on the Saito et al., 2020) provided evidence that the negative experience of loneliness and the threat of social exclusion increased selective attention to signs of social acceptance (smiling faces) than to that conveying social disapproval (sad/competent faces). ...
Loneliness is the negative experience of a discrepancy between the desired and actual personal network of relationships. Whereas past work have focused on the effect of loneliness on prosocial behaviors, the present research addressed the gap by exploring the effect of loneliness on empathy. Empathy is the emotional reaction of sharing in others’ internal experiences. We adopted a new paradigm-empathy selection task, which uses free choices to assess the desire to empathize. Participants made a series of binary choices, selecting situations that instructed them to empathize or objectively describe. Results from two studies showed that, compared to non-lonely people, lonely people were more likely to choose positive empathy but to avoid negative empathy. The pattern occurs because lonely people perceived higher (vs. lower) social support in the positive (vs. negative) empathy tasks. Moreover, empathy served to be an adaptive emotion regulation strategy developed by lonely people to reduce their loneliness effectively. This research has resulted in both theoretical contributions to prosocial behavior literature and the further discovery of practical implications for loneliness intervention.
... Of course, this is relevant not only to the study of physiological stress response, but also to a wide array of other biological, neural, and epigenetic stress responses that have been studied rather infrequently within the peer literature (see section below on immune system functioning). In addition, modern technological advances may allow for the assessment of many of these social-cognitive processes with greater scientific rigor, such as the use of eyetracking devices to examine cue encoding (Bangee et al., 2014), or the use of electronically-mediated communication (e.g., texts, social media posts) to capture cue interpretations or response enactments. ...
Peer relationships among youth have been examined as predictors of mental health outcomes for at least fifty years, revealing dozens of discrete peer constructs that each are associated with adjustment in childhood, adolescence, and later in adulthood. Future research may benefit by examining a range of new outcomes and psychological processes that have been discussed recently in related literatures. This paper reviews recent research on interpersonal determinants of physical health outcomes, and opportunities for greater examination of 1) peer influence processes toward health risk behaviors; 2) neural correlates of peer adversity; 3) adverse peer experiences that may affect physiological markers of stress response; and 4) immune system markers of peer adversity. Additional future directions include the study of differences in the forms and functions of peer interactions within the digital age.
... Participants were divided into two groups -'lonely' and 'non-lonely' -using upper quartiles of the loneliness measurements (single item: a score of ⩾3 classified as lonely; composite score: a score ⩾12 classified as lonely). There are no published cut-off points for loneliness, but quartiles have previously been used in research  and showed different profiles of behaviour for groups of people categorised using top quartile scores on selfreported loneliness measures. Differences between the two measures and two key demographics -age and sex -were also investigated through a series of analyses of variance (AnOVAs). ...
Aims: We examined the relationship between loneliness and health among young adolescents. We also investigated the validity of a single-item measure of loneliness by comparing this to a composite score. Methods: The current data come from a nationally representative sample of 11- to 15-year-old adolescents ( N=3305; F=52%) from Denmark collected in 2014 as part of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) collaborative cross-national survey. Results: A series of binary logistic regressions showed that higher loneliness among adolescents, whether measured using the single- or multi-item measurement, was associated with poorer self-rated health, higher frequency of headache, stomach ache, backache, difficulties sleeping, greater sleep disturbance and more instances of feeling tired in the morning. Those associations were relatively consistent across sex and age groups. Conclusions: Loneliness is associated with poorer self-reported health and sleep problems among young adolescents. Those findings are similar across two measures of loneliness, suggesting robust findings. The development of interventions and health-education efforts to fight loneliness in adolescence is important.
... To date, there are no studies that have examined associations between loneliness and violations of Friendship Expectations. Lonely people perceive their social environment as more threatening (Bangee et al., 2014;Qualter et al., 2013b;Vanhalst et al., 2015), have an expectation that their social interactions will be negative (Duck, Pond, & Leatham, 1994;Jones, Freemon, & Goswick, 1981;Jones, Sansone, & Helm, 1983), and behave passively in social situations, retreating from social interactions when possible (Duck et al., 1994;Jones et al., 1981Jones et al., , 1983. That research explains why loneliness is associated with lower Friendship Expectations (i.e., they expect more negative behaviour from friends) and suggests loneliness may be associated with behaving in a passive way within friendships, being more permissiveness of friendship transgressions. ...
Previous research has shown that friendships buffer against loneliness, but some children remain lonely despite having best friends. The current study examines relationships between loneliness and Friendship Functions, expectations, and responses to friendship transgressions in children with best friends (8–11 years; N = 177). Children completed questionnaires that measured loneliness, fulfilment of Friendship Functions, Friendship Expectations, and the Transgressions of Friendship Expectations Questionnaire (MacEvoy & Asher, Child Development , 83, 2012, 104). Findings in the current study showed that loneliness was associated with lower Friendship Expectations and higher reliable alliance in existing best friendships. Loneliness was also associated with lower sadness and lower perceptions of feeling controlled and devalued by their friend when they transgress. Thus, children with best friends experiencing high loneliness may be more permissiveness of friendship transgressions and may need support to ensure that they do not allow their friends to be unfair to them.
Statement of contribution
What is already known on the subject?
Friendships buffer children from loneliness, but some remain lonely despite having friends.
Loneliness has been associated with poor‐quality friendships.
But there is no examination of why children remain lonely when they have friends.
What the present study adds?
Lonely children overemphasize friendship qualities that help to maintain the relationship.
Loneliness was linked to expectations of being friends with less popular and well‐liked peers.
Lonely children placed less blame on their friends when they violated Friendship Expectations.
... Across our sample of children, being skilled at feeling (using) emotion, but poor at identifying emotions in others, predicted long-term internalizing problems, measured as enduring depressive symptoms and loneliness. Biases in the processing of emotional expressions are well established in the literature, with studies typically finding that depressed young people and adults perceive positive, negative, and ambiguous emotions as more negatively valenced, particularly those presented at lower intensities (Bourke et al., 2010;Schepman et al., 2012); loneliness is also related to the attribution of negative intentions to ambiguous social encounters van Roekel et al., 2015) and cognitive biases for negative affect (Qualter et al., , 2015bBangee et al., 2014;Spithoven et al., 2017). Since successful interaction depends upon being able to accurately identify non-verbal emotional signals in others, continued misattribution of emotional signals (e.g., perceiving individuals as less happy) could prolong negative mood states in children and lead to further socio-emotional problems. ...
Identifying factors that predict the maintenance of depression and loneliness in children is important for intervention design. Whilst emotional intelligence (EI) has been identified as a predictor of mental health, research examining how both trait and ability EI contribute to long-term patterns of symptomatology in children is markedly absent. We examined the impact of both TEI and AEI on the maintenance of loneliness and depressive symptoms over 1 year in children aged 9-11 years. Two hundred and thirteen children (54% male) completed the TEIQue-CF and the MSCEIT-YV at the first time point of the study, and the Child Depression Inventory and the Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents at Time 1 and, again, 1 year later. Findings indicate that emotional skills (AEI) are important for predicting the maintenance of depressive symptoms and loneliness in children over 1 year; emotional self-competency (TEI) is less influential, only contributing to long-term loneliness in girls. Moreover, whilst deficiencies in the ability to perceive and understand emotions were predictive of prolonged symptomatology, so, too, were proficiencies in using emotion to facilitate thinking and emotion management. Those findings carry important implications for EI theory and future research. They also indicate that EI interventions tailored to groups of "at risk" school children may be useful for reducing specific profiles of internalizing symptoms. Programs targeting AEI skills may be universally helpful for reducing the likelihood that depressive symptoms and loneliness will be maintained over time in middle childhood; girls at risk for prolonged loneliness would additionally benefit from opportunities to bolster TEI.
... Loneliness is characterized by implicit hyper-vigilance for social threats (Cacioppo et al., 2016). While this can facilitate the identification of viable social partners and prevent rejection, prolonged loneliness shifts exogenous attentional processes towards perceived social threats (Bangee et al., 2014;Cacioppo et al., 2015). Altered attention to external stimuli may affect how individuals internalize perceived information and make endogenous judgments about MIL (Hicks et al., 2010). ...
Social relationships imbue life with meaning, whereas loneliness diminishes one's sense of meaning in life. Yet the extent of interdependence between these psychological constructs remains poorly understood. We took a multivariate network approach to examine resting-state fMRI functional connectivity's association with loneliness and meaning in a large cohort of adults (N = 942). Loneliness and meaning in life were negatively correlated with one another. In their relationship with individually parcelled whole-brain measures of functional connectivity, a significant and reliable pattern was observed. Greater loneliness was associated with dense, and less modular, connections between default, frontoparietal, attention and perceptual networks. A greater sense of life meaning was associated with increased, and more modular, connectivity between default and limbic networks. Low loneliness was associated with more modular brain connectivity, and lower life meaning was associated with higher between-network connectivity. These findings advance our understanding of loneliness and life meaning as distinct, yet interdependent, features of sociality. The results highlight a potential role of the default network as a central hub, providing a putative neural mechanism for shifting between feelings of isolation and purpose.
... Susceptibility to loneliness is a trait-like phenotype that is moderately heritable, stable across time and varied across individuals (McGuire and Clifford, 2000;Boomsma et al., 2005;Boomsma et al., 2007;Canli et al., 2018). People high on loneliness experience less reward from daily social interactions, exhibit hypersensitivity to negative social information, show impaired social skills and have poor self-regulation (Jones et al., 1982;Hawkley et al., 2007;Bangee et al., 2014;Yildiz, 2016;Cacioppo et al., 2017). Loneliness has also been linked to big five personality dimensions, especially neuroticism and extraversion (Atak, 2009;Abdellaoui et al., 2018a). ...
Loneliness is an increasingly prevalent condition linking with enhanced morbidity and premature mortality. Despite recent proposal on medicalization of loneliness, so far no effort has been made to establish a model capable of predicting loneliness at the individual level. Here, we applied a machine-learning approach to decode loneliness from whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC). The relationship between whole-brain RSFC and loneliness was examined in a linear predictive model. The results revealed that individual loneliness could be predicted by within- and between-network connectivity of prefrontal, limbic and temporal systems, which are involved in cognitive control, emotional processing and social perceptions and communications, respectively. Key nodes that contributed to the prediction model comprised regions previously implicated in loneliness, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, lateral orbital frontal cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, caudate, amygdala and temporal regions. Our findings also demonstrated that both loneliness and associated neural substrates are modulated by levels of neuroticism and extraversion. The current data-driven approach provides the first evidence on the predictive brain features of loneliness based on organizations of intrinsic brain networks. Our work represents initial efforts in the direction of making individualized prediction of loneliness that could be useful for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.
It has been hypothesized that lonely individuals demonstrate hypervigilance toward social threats. However, recent studies have raised doubts about the reliability of tasks commonly used to measure attentional biases toward threats. Two alternative approaches have been suggested to overcome the limitations of traditional analysis of attentional bias. First, the neurophysiological indicators of orienting to threats were shown to have superior psychometric characteristics compared to overt measures of behavioral performance. The second approach involves utilizing computational modeling to isolate latent components corresponding to specific cognitive mechanisms from observable data. To test the usefulness of these approaches in loneliness research, we analyzed behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) data from 26 lonely and 26 non-lonely participants who performed a dot-probe task using a computational modeling approach. We applied the Drift Diffusion Model (DDM) and extracted N2pc-an event-related potential that serves as an indicator of spatial attention. No evidence for social threat hypervigilance has been found in DDM parameters nor in N2pc characteristics in the current study. However, we did observe decreased drift rate and increased variability in drift rate between trials within the lonely group, indicating reduced efficiency in perceptual decision-making among lonely individuals. These effects were not detected using standard behavioral measures used in the dot-probe paradigm. Given that DDM indicators were sensitive to differences in perceptual discrimination between the two groups, even when no overt differences were found in standard behavioral measures, it may be postulated that computational approaches offer a more comprehensive understanding of cognitive processes.
Loneliness influences how people experience and respond to stressors, which may account for its role as a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. The present study was motivated by emerging evidence that affective responses to minor daily events have long-term implications for health and well-being. Specifically, we evaluated how individual differences in loneliness relate to the frequency of everyday stressors and stressor-related negative emotions. A diverse community sample of 255 adults (age 25-65 years) completed ecological momentary assessments (EMA), during which they reported recent stressors and current negative affect (NA) five times a day for 14 days. Multilevel logistic analyses indicated that there was a quadratic association between loneliness and likelihood of reporting stressors, controlling for demographics, social isolation, depressive symptoms, and context (current activities, current location). Multilevel regression indicated that loneliness was unrelated to the concurrent effect of stressors on NA but significantly larger lagged stressor effects were observed among individuals in the low and high ranges of loneliness. These findings suggest that individuals with high levels of loneliness are more likely to experience everyday stressors and have prolonged emotional responses following stressors.
Background and hypothesis:
Some of the most debilitating aspects of schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses (SMI) are the impairments in social perception, motivation, and behavior that frequently accompany these conditions. These impairments may ultimately lead to chronic social disconnection (ie, social withdrawal, objective isolation, and perceived social isolation or loneliness), which may contribute to the poor cardiometabolic health and early mortality commonly observed in SMI. However, the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying relationships between impairments in social perception and motivation and social isolation and loneliness in SMI remain incompletely understood.
A narrative, selective review of studies on social withdrawal, isolation, loneliness, and health in SMI.
We describe some of what is known and hypothesized about the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of social disconnection in the general population, and how these mechanisms may contribute to social isolation and loneliness, and their consequences, in individuals with SMI.
A synthesis of evolutionary and cognitive theories with the "social homeostasis" model of social isolation and loneliness represents one testable framework for understanding the dynamic cognitive and biological correlates, as well as the health consequences, of social disconnection in SMI. The development of such an understanding may provide the basis for novel approaches for preventing or treating both functional disability and poor physical health that diminish the quality and length of life for many individuals with these conditions.
Concerns about the possible effects of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted several gaps in our knowledge about the association between social interactions and mental health. The current study aimed to characterize the unique effect of social interaction quantity and quality on daily depressed mood and loneliness and to identify the degree to which these processes operate at the within-person and between-person levels of analysis.
A community sample of 515 adults was recruited to participate in 75 days of daily surveys. Participants reported on daily feelings of loneliness, depressed mood, social interaction frequency, engagement in vulnerable self-disclosure, and perceived responsiveness. Linear mixed models were used to identify the effect of daily social interaction quantity and quality on loneliness and depressed mood and to characterize the degree to which these effects varied across individuals.
Social interaction quantity and perceived responsiveness were negatively associated with depressed mood and loneliness at the within-person level of analysis. Perceived responsiveness was also negatively associated with depressed mood and loneliness at both the within-person and between-person levels of analysis. Random slopes analysis revealed substantial heterogeneity in the within-person effects.
The non-experimental design of this study precludes drawing causal conclusions. Furthermore, demographic and/or geographic differences in the observed effects may limit generalization.
Engaging in more frequent, high-quality interactions may protect against daily depressed mood and loneliness despite one’s average level of these variables. Future research is needed to establish causality and identify the degree to which these findings generalize across samples and time.
Understanding loneliness is pivotal to informing related evidence-based preventive interventions. The present study examined the prevalence of loneliness in the UK, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the association between loneliness, mental health outcomes, and risk and protective factors for loneliness, after controlling for the effects of social isolation. It was estimated that 18.1% of the population in our study experienced moderately high to very high loneliness. We also found that loneliness was positively associated with self-disgust and social inhibition, and negatively associated with trait optimism and hope. Cluster analysis showed that two distinct groups emerged among those experiencing higher levels of loneliness: “adaptive” and “maladaptive” loneliness groups. The maladaptive loneliness group displayed psychological characteristics like self-disgust and social inhibition including symptoms of depression and anxiety that can potentially undermine their ability to connect with others and form meaningful social relationships. These findings suggest that not all people experience loneliness in the same way. It is possible that a one-size-fit-all approach may be less effective because it does not take into account that people classified as "lonely" may display differential psychological profiles and characteristics relevant to their capacity to connect with others.
Loneliness, or perceived social isolation, is linked to a number of negative long‐term effects on both mental and physical health. However, how an individual responds to feeling lonely may influence their risk for later negative health outcomes. Here, we sought to clarify what influences variability in individuals' motivated responses to loneliness. Specifically, we assessed whether resting parasympathetic activity, a physiological marker linked to flexible adaptation, facilitates increased approach‐oriented behaviors. Seventy‐four adult participants underwent a conditioning paradigm assessing how they approach and avoid rewards and threats. Individuals with higher levels of loneliness and high resting parasympathetic activity were more likely to demonstrate approach behaviors. We discuss these findings in terms of the role resting parasympathetic activity may play in facilitating adaptive responses to feeling socially isolated. How an individual responds to feeling lonely may influence their risk for later negative health outcomes. The current study provides new insight into what may influence variability in responses to feeling lonely. Individuals with higher resting parasympathetic activity and high levels of loneliness demonstrate increased approach‐oriented behaviors. This suggests loneliness increases approach motivations but only in the presence of other markers of adaptive responding, like high resting parasympathetic activity.
The problem of loneliness is spreading across modern societies faster than ever before. The main aim of this paper is to demonstrate that this change has negative effects not only on the wellbeing of individuals, but also on the political stability of democratic societies. Loneliness-induced impairments of social cognition make citizens maintain a hostile perception of others and prevent them from looking for truth and participating in reciprocal relationships. Inability to regulate emotions makes them, in turn, prefer affective narratives instead of facts, as well as succumb to manipulations or join unpredictable, deindividuating, totalitarian-like movements. The combination of aforementioned effects may pose a great threat to democratic systems. A suggested way to improve this situation is to fill in the gaps of human emotional instincts and ineffectiveness of welfare institutions, which endorse psychological and physical social isolation. It can be done by using various sorts of innovative applications of modern technologies.
Kesepian telah dilaporkan mengalami tren peningkatan. Salah satu alasan yang diduga kuat menjadi penyebabnya adalah terjadinya wabah virus corona. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengetahui peran trait mindfulness terhadap kesepian pada orang dewasa awal. Penelitian menggunakan metode kuantitatif dan desain korelasional. Sebanyak 169 orang dewasa awal berusia 20-40 berpartisipasi dalam penelitian ini. Perolehan data menggunakan skala multidimensi Five-Facets of Mindfulness (FFMQ) dan The University of California, Los Angeles Loneliness Scale Version 3 (UCLA). Analisis dilakukan dengan teknik korelasi Pearson dengan metode bootstrap menggunakan 5000 sampel bootstrap. diketahui bahwa trait mindfulness memiliki hubungan negatif secara signifikan dan berkekuatan sedang dengan kesepian (r(5000)=-0,495; 95% CI [-0,368; -0,608]; p<0,000). Hasil ini menunjukkan bahwa semakin tinggi trait mindfulness pada individu, maka semakin rendah kecenderungannya untuk mengalami kesepian.
Positive social relationships are vital for mental health. There is an ever-increasing understanding of the cognitive and computational mechanisms that underlie how we process others’ behaviours during social interactions. Yet fundamentally many conversations, partnerships and relationships have to end. However, little is known about how people decide when to leave. Theories of decision-making posit that people stop a behaviour in favour of another based on evidence accumulation processes, shaped by the value of alternative behaviours (opportunity costs). Do people compute evidence to leave social interactions based on the opportunity costs of connecting to others? Here, in a novel economic game, participants made decisions of when to leave partners in social environments with different opportunity costs for moving on. Across four studies we find that people leave partners more quickly when the opportunity costs are high, both in terms of the average generosity in the environment and the effort required to connect to the next partner. People’s leaving times could be accounted for by a fairness-adapted evidence accumulation model, with a lower threshold for leaving in high opportunity cost social environments. Moreover, decisions to leave were modulated by depression and loneliness scores, which were linked to an interaction between the fairness of a partner and the opportunity cost of the social environment. These findings demonstrate the cognitive and computational processes underlying decisions to leave social interactions, and highlight that loneliness and depression may be linked to an atypical dynamic allocation of time to social interactions.
Introduction: Loneliness is an epidemic in the modern world, putting millions of people at risk of serious mental and physical health problems. Statement of the Problem: Despite its relevance to many domains within psychology, the topic of loneliness receives little to no coverage in most psychology textbooks. Also, many students struggle with loneliness and may benefit from teachers prioritizing social connection in their classrooms. Literature Review: I briefly review the research on loneliness. I also provide a quick overview of the research on students’ sense of connection and its relationship to academic motivation and performance. Teaching Implications: I discuss ways to incorporate the topic of loneliness into psychology courses and explain how teachers can promote social connection in their classrooms. Conclusion: Psychology teachers should consider educating students about the topic of loneliness (as it relates to the courses they teach) and designing their courses with students’ fundamental social needs in mind.
Never before have we experienced social isolation on such a massive scale as we have in response to COVID-19. Yet we know that the social environment has a dramatic impact on our sense of life satisfaction and well-being. In times of distress, crisis, or disaster, human resilience depends on the richness and strength of social connections, as well as active engagement in groups and communities. Over recent years, evidence emerging from various disciplines has made it abundantly clear: loneliness may be the most potent threat to survival and longevity. Here, we highlight the benefits of social bonds, choreographies of bond creation and maintenance, as well as the neurocognitive basis of social isolation and its deep consequences for mental and physical health.
The hypothesis that lonely children show hypervigilance for social threat was examined in a series of three studies that employed different methods including advanced eye-tracking technology. Hypervigilance for social threat was operationalized as hostility to ambiguously motivated social exclusion in a variation of the hostile attribution paradigm (Study 1), scores on the Children's Rejection-Sensitivity Questionnaire (Study 2), and visual attention to socially rejecting stimuli (Study 3). The participants were 185 children (11 years-7 months to 12 years-6 months), 248 children (9 years-4 months to 11 years-8 months) and 140 children (8 years-10 months to 12 years-10 months) in the three studies, respectively. Regression analyses showed that, with depressive symptoms covaried, there were quadratic relations between loneliness and these different measures of hypervigilance to social threat. As hypothesized, only children in the upper range of loneliness demonstrated elevated hostility to ambiguously motivated social exclusion, higher scores on the rejection sensitivity questionnaire, and disengagement difficulties when viewing socially rejecting stimuli. We found that very lonely children are hypersensitive to social threat.
Social and demographic trends are placing an increasing number of adults at risk for loneliness, an established risk factor for physical and mental illness. The growing costs of loneliness have led to a number of loneliness reduction interventions. Qualitative reviews have identified four primary intervention strategies: (a) improving social skills, (b) enhancing social support, (c) increasing opportunities for social contact, and (d) addressing maladaptive social cognition. An integrative meta-analysis of loneliness reduction interventions was conducted to quantify the effects of each strategy and to examine the potential role of moderator variables. Results revealed that single-group pre-post and nonrandomized comparison studies yielded larger mean effect sizes relative to randomized comparison studies. Among studies that used the latter design, the most successful interventions addressed maladaptive social cognition. This is consistent with current theories regarding loneliness and its etiology. Theoretical and methodological issues associated with designing new loneliness reduction interventions are discussed.
The research examines the play partners and friendship patterns of a sample of children (N= 409) from four separate clusters (lonely, rejected, lonely and rejected, and nonlonely/nonrejected controls). Controls were more likely than rejected, lonely and lonely/rejected children to have a best friend. Control and rejected children differ from lonely and lonely/rejected children by reporting significantly more support from a close friend. Observations of play showed that lonely, lonely/rejected and rejected children are not isolated and dyadic interactions between children in these three clusters were likely to be positive in nature, involving pro-social acts, and acts that were positively received by others. We note that there are discrepancies between children’s reports of friendships and observations of play partner choice and we consider why this might be the case.
Loneliness is a prevalent social problem with serious physiological and health implications. However, much of the research to date is based on cross-sectional data, including our own earlier finding that loneliness was associated with elevated blood pressure (Hawkley, Masi, Berry & Cacioppo, 2006). In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the effect of loneliness accumulates to produce greater increases in systolic blood pressure (SBP) over a 4-year period than are observed in less lonely individuals. A population-based sample of 229 50- to 68-year-old White, Black, and Hispanic men and women in the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study was tested annually for each of 5 consecutive years. Cross-lagged panel analyses revealed that loneliness at study onset predicted increases in SBP 2, 3, and 4 years later (B = 0.152, SE = 0.091, p < .05, one-tailed). These increases were cumulative such that higher initial levels of loneliness were associated with greater increases in SBP over a 4-year period. The effect of loneliness on SBP was independent of age, gender, race or ethnicity, cardiovascular risk factors, medications, health conditions, and the effects of depressive symptoms, social support, perceived stress, and hostility.
Selective attention to threat is believed to maintain social anxiety, yet the nature of attentional processing remains unclear. It has been posited that difficulty disengaging from threat cues may be implicated. The present study tested this hypothesis using an eye tracking paradigm to directly examine eye fixations in a non-clinical sample (N = 46). Eye movements were tracked during presentation of social cues (happy or disgust faces) embedded with non-social cues matched on dimensions of valence, threat, and arousal. Stimuli were presented for 2,000 ms to allow for examination of attention over time. Results suggest that individuals with higher social anxiety may demonstrate relative difficulty disengaging from negative social cues (i.e., disgust faces). Social anxiety was unrelated to eye movements concerning happy faces. Implications for the maintenance and etiology of social anxiety are discussed.
In this article I evaluated the psychometric properties of the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3). Using data from prior studies of college students, nurses, teachers, and the elderly, analyses of the reliability, validity, and factor structure of this new version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale were conducted. Results indicated that the measure was highly reliable, both in terms of internal consistency (coefficient alpha ranging from .89 to .94) and test-retest reliability over a 1-year period (r = .73). Convergent validity for the scale was indicated by significant correlations with other measures of loneliness. Construct validity was supported by significant relations with measures of the adequacy of the individual's interpersonal relationships, and by correlations between loneliness and measures of health and well-being. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that a model incorporating a global bipolar loneliness factor along with two method factor reflecting direction of item wording provided a very good fit to the data across samples. Implications of these results for future measurement research on loneliness are discussed.
Satisfying social relationships are vital for good mental and physical health. Accordingly, we recommend that the alleviation and prevention of social relationship deficits be a key focus of clinicians. In this review, we focus on loneliness as a crucial marker of social relationship deficits and contend that loneliness should command clinicians' attention in its own right--not just as an adjunct to the treatment of other problems such as depression. With a particular focus on the adolescent developmental period, this review is organized into five sections: Drawing on developmental and evolutionary psychology theories, the nature of social relationships and the function they serve is first discussed. In the second section, loneliness is introduced as an exemplar of social relationship deficits. Here a definition of loneliness is provided, as well as an explanation of why it may pose a situation of concern. This is followed by a review of the prototypic features of loneliness through examination of its affective, cognitive, and behavioral correlates. The fourth section includes a review of theories related to the antecedent and maintenance factors involved in loneliness. Finally, methodological and theoretical considerations are addressed, and conclusions and proposals for future research directions are put forth.
The research literature suggests that children and adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders experience cognitive distortions that magnify their perceived level of threat in the environment. Of these distortions, an attentional bias toward threat-related information has received the most theoretical and empirical consideration. A large volume of research suggests that anxiety-disordered youth selectively allocate their attention toward threat-related information. The present review critically examines this research and highlights several issues relevant to the study of threat-related attentional bias in youth, including the influences of temperament, trait anxiety, and state anxiety on threat-related attentional bias. It furthermore identifies the need for developmental and methodological considerations and recommends directions for research.
Prior research has shown that perceived social isolation (loneliness) motivates people to attend to and connect with others but to do so in a self-protective and paradoxically self-defeating fashion. Although recent research has shed light on the neural correlates of social perception, cooperation, empathy, rejection, and love, little is known about how individual differences in loneliness relate to neural responses to social and emotional stimuli. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that there are at least two neural mechanisms differentiating social perception in lonely and nonlonely young adults. For pleasant depictions, lonely individuals appear to be less rewarded by social stimuli, as evidenced by weaker activation of the ventral striatum to pictures of people than of objects, whereas nonlonely individuals showed stronger activation of the ventral striatum to pictures of people than of objects. For unpleasant depictions, lonely individuals were characterized by greater activation of the visual cortex to pictures of people than of objects, suggesting that their attention is drawn more to the distress of others, whereas nonlonely individuals showed greater activation of the right and left temporo-parietal junction to pictures of people than of objects, consistent with the notion that they are more likely to reflect spontaneously on the perspective of distressed others.
A wealth of research demonstrates attentional biases toward threat in the anxiety disorders. Several models have been advanced to explain these biases in anxiety, yet the mechanisms comprising and mediating the biases remain unclear. In the present article, we review evidence regarding the mechanisms of attentional biases through careful examination of the components of attentional bias, the mechanisms underlying these components, and the stage of information processing during which the biases occur. Facilitated attention, difficulty in disengagement, and attentional avoidance comprise the components of attentional bias. A threat detection mechanism likely underlies facilitated attention, a process that may be neurally centered around the amygdala. Attentional control ability likely underlies difficulty in disengagement, emotion regulation goals likely underlie attentional avoidance, and both of these processes may be neurally centered around prefrontal cortex functioning. The threat detection mechanism may be a mostly automatic process, attentional avoidance may be a mostly strategic process, and difficulty in disengagement may be a mixture of automatic and strategic processing. Recommendations for future research are discussed.
In the last fifteen years, there has been an explosion in the application of experimental cognitive paradigms within the research on emotional disorders. One of the most fruitful lines of research in this area is the study of selective attention in persons suffering from an emotional disorder. Several paradigms have been employed to examine this attentional bias (e.g. dichotic listening, Emotional Stroop, visual dot-probe task) and to demonstrate how task performance is facilitated or inhibited due to the presentation of a stimulus that is related to the emotional concerns of the participants. A problem associated with these paradigms is that they only measure attention deployment at a very specific moment immediately after the presentation of the emotional stimulus, but are not suitable for capturing the course of selective attention over longer time periods. In a study with spider anxious participants, we used on-line registration of eye movements as a continuous index of attention deployment towards emotionally relevant (spiders) or irrelevant (flowers) material. Viewing patterns were registered during a 3- second presentation of stimuli composed of a picture of a spider and a picture of a flower. Results show that spider anxious participants looked significantly more at spiders than at flowers during the beginning of the stimulus presentation, but subsequently their viewing pattern shifted more and more away from the spiders. Control participants showed a more stable pattern as they looked more at spiders than at flowers throughout the trial. A traditional attentional bias effect could, however, not be replicated.
This article aims to illustrate how development is shaped by genes, environments, and their interactions. To this aim, a selective overview of research on adolescent loneliness is presented. Earlier approaches have already recognized the combined influence of environmental and personal factors on adolescent loneliness. Contemporary approaches, and the evolutionary theory of loneliness and associated sociocognitive model in particular, have provided a new impetus to research on loneliness. The rapidly expanding knowledge of genes and gene–environment interactions suggests that genetic effects related to loneliness represent some form of differential susceptibility to the environment. Methods from the neurosciences provide new insights into the basic mechanisms underlying feelings of loneliness. The concluding part of the article explains why loneliness is a valuable topic of scientific inquiry and presents an integrative model for future research on adolescent loneliness. Developmental psychologists throughout Europe can contribute to such integrative research programmes, each from their own perspective.
Several studies have indicated that lonely persons converse in an inhibited self-focused manner in initial encounters with opposite-sex strangers. The present study hypothesized that lonely persons may also display nonnormative conversational patterns in same-sex dyads and when speaking to familiar others. To test this hypothesis, lonely and nonlonely college males engaged in a conversation with a same-sex stranger and with a roommate. These conversations were coded for eight objective conversational modes and three interpersonal orientations, and subjects reported on their satisfaction with the conversation. Lonely males were significantly more inhibited in social interactions, speaking less than nonlonely males both with strangers and with roommates. Only minimal support was found for lonely persons having a self-focused conversational style with strangers. The conversational style of lonely persons with roommates is less intimate than that of nonlonely persons; lonely persons used simple attentiveness conversational modes more than nonlonely persons, and used familiarity modes less than nonlonely persons. No differences in self-reported satisfaction with the conversations were found.
Notes that past studies on perceived control and loneliness have taken either a trait locus of control or a specific attributional approach. The present study attempted both to replicate the earlier findings and to integrate them using a scale that bridges the 2 approaches. Also investigated were the effects of desire for control, type of relationship, and sex. The data from 9 samples of college students were used (1,253 males and 890 females). Using a variety of trait scales (e.g., UCLA Loneliness Scale and Rotter's Internal–External Locus of Control Scale), data from all samples showed that loneliness was associated with a low desire for control and a belief that one does not have control. Loneliness was correlated with uncontrollable internal and external attributions for both successful and unsuccessful situations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
A large body of research has demonstrated that affective disorders are characterized by attentional biases for emotional stimuli. However, this research relies heavily on manual reaction time (RT) measures that cannot fully delineate the time course and components of attentional bias. Eye tracking technology, which allows relatively direct and continuous measurement of overt visual attention, may provide an important supplement to RT measures. This article reviews eye tracking research on anxiety and depression, evaluating the experimental paradigms and eye movement indicators used to study attentional biases. Also included is a meta-analysis of extant eye tracking research (33 experiments; N=1579) on both anxiety and depression. Relative to controls, anxious individuals showed increased vigilance for threat during free viewing and visual search, and showed difficulty disengaging from threat in visual search tasks, but not during free viewing. In contrast, depressed individuals were not characterized by vigilance for threat during free viewing, but were characterized by reduced orienting to positive stimuli, as well as reduced maintenance of gaze on positive stimuli and increased maintenance of gaze on dysphoric stimuli. Implications of these findings for theoretical accounts of attentional bias in anxiety and depression are discussed, and avenues for future research using eye-tracking technology are outlined.
Four studies (total n= 469) examined correlates of loneliness in order to explore explanations for the persistence of loneliness among college students. Self-report and attitude scales, ratings of others following dyadic interactions, and self and other ratings at two points during an extended period of group interactions indicated that lonely students (a) rated themselves more negatively and reported deficits in social skills and self-concept, (b) rated specific others and people-in-general more negatively and were more alienated and externalized, (c) expected others to rate them negatively, but (d) in general were not differentially rated by others except in the initial phase of group interactions and by lonely others following dyadic interactions. Results suggested that loneliness may be perpetuated by its cognitive and affective concomitants, with some evidence for gender differences, whereas inconclusive evidence was found regarding responses of others to the lonely person.
Predictions from the Rejection Sensitivity (RS) model concerning the social causes and consequences of RS were examined in a longitudinal study of 150 middle school students. Peer nominations of rejection, self-report measures of anxious and angry rejection expectations, and social anxiety, social withdrawal, and loneliness were assessed at two time points. Results indicate that peer rejection at Time 1 predicted an increase in anxious and angry expectations of rejection at Time 2, but only for boys. Being liked by peers, irrespective of level of dislike, predicted a reduction in anxious rejection expectations in both boys and girls. Further, anxious expectations of rejection were uniquely predictive of increased social anxiety and withdrawal. Angry expectations of rejection, an established unique predictor of increased aggression, predicted decreased social anxiety. Both anxious and angry expectations predicted increased loneliness, but neither were unique predictors of loneliness. Implications of viewing anxious and angry expectations of rejection as distinct cognitive–affective vulnerabilities for adolescents are discussed.
Loneliness is characterized by feelings of social pain and isolation and has both heritable and unshared environmental underpinnings. An evolutionary theory of loneliness is outlined, and four studies replicate and extend prior research on the characteristics of lonely individuals. Studies 1 and 2 indicate that loneliness and depressed affect are related but separable constructs. Study 3 confirms that lonely, relative to nonlonely, young adults are higher in anxiety, anger, negative mood, and fear of negative evaluation, and lower in optimism, social skills, social support, positive mood, surgency, emotional stability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, shyness, and sociability. The set of six personality factors associated with loneliness (surgency, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, shyness, and sociability) do not explain the associations between loneliness and negative mood, anxiety, anger, optimism (pessimism), self-esteem, and social support, as each association remained statistically significant even after statistically controlling for these personality factors. Study 4 used hypnosis to experimentally manipulate loneliness to determine whether there were associated changes in the participants’ personality and socioemotional characteristics. Results confirmed that loneliness can influence the participants’ personality ratings and socioemotional states.
Scientific evidence is equivocal on whether Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a biased negative evaluation of (grouped) facial expressions, even though it is assumed that such a bias plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the disorder. To shed light on the underlying mechanisms of face evaluation in social anxiety, the eye movements of 22 highly socially anxious (SAs) and 21 non-anxious controls (NACs) were recorded while they rated the degree of friendliness of neutral-angry and smiling-angry face combinations. While the Crowd Rating Task data showed no significant differences between SAs and NACs, the resultant eye-movement patterns revealed that SAs, compared to NACs, looked away faster when the face first fixated was angry. Additionally, in SAs the proportion of fixated angry faces was significantly higher than for other expressions. Independent of social anxiety, these fixated angry faces were the best predictor of subsequent affect ratings for either group. Angry faces influence attentional processes such as eye movements in SAs and by doing so reflect biased evaluations. As these processes do not correlate with explicit ratings of faces, however, it remains unclear at what point implicit attentional behaviors lead to anxiety-prone behaviors and the maintenance of SAD. The relevance of these findings is discussed in the light of the current theories.
In attempts to understand the social determinants of health, strong associations have been found between measures of loneliness, physiological stress processes, and physical and mental health outcomes. Feelings of loneliness are hypothesized to have implications for physiological stress processes, including activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In a community sample of young adults, multilevel modeling was used to examine whether trait and state feelings of loneliness were related to changes in levels of the stress-sensitive hormone cortisol, and whether the associations between loneliness and cortisol were mediated or moderated by the presence of concurrent depression or high levels of chronic life stress. Results indicated that trait loneliness was associated with a flattening of the diurnal cortisol rhythm. In addition, both daily and momentary state variations in loneliness were related to cortisol. Prior day feelings of loneliness were associated with an increased cortisol awakening response the next morning and momentary experiences of loneliness during the day were associated with momentary increases in cortisol among youth who also had high chronic interpersonal stress. Results were significant after covarying current depression, both chronic and momentary reports of stress, and medical and lifestyle covariates. This study expanded on prior work by investigating and revealing three different time courses of association between loneliness and HPA axis activity in young adults: trait, daily and momentary.
Social species, from Drosophila melanogaster to Homo sapiens, fare poorly when isolated. Homo sapiens, an irrepressibly meaning-making species, are, in normal circumstances, dramatically affected by perceived social isolation. Research indicates that perceived social isolation (i.e. loneliness) is a risk factor for, and may contribute to, poorer overall cognitive performance, faster cognitive decline, poorer executive functioning, increased negativity and depressive cognition, heightened sensitivity to social threats, a confirmatory bias in social cognition that is self-protective and paradoxically self-defeating, heightened anthropomorphism and contagion that threatens social cohesion. These differences in attention and cognition impact on emotions, decisions, behaviors and interpersonal interactions that can contribute to the association between loneliness and cognitive decline and between loneliness and morbidity more generally.
Loneliness is a complex set of feelings encompassing reactions to unfulfilled intimate and social needs. Although transient for some individuals, loneliness can be a chronic state for others. Prior research has shown that loneliness is a major risk factor for psychological disturbances and for broad-based morbidity and mortality. We examined differences between lonely and socially embedded individuals that might explain differences in health outcomes. Satisfying social relationships were associated with more positive outlooks on life, more secure attachments and interactions with others, more autonomic activation when confronting acute psychological challenges, and more efficient restorative behaviors. Individuals who were chronically lonely were characterized by elevated mean salivary cortisol levels across the course of a day, suggesting more discharges of corticotropin-releasing hormone and elevated activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocorticol axis. An experimental manipulation of loneliness further suggested that the way in which people construe their self in relation to others around them has powerful effects on their self concept and, possibly, on their physiology.
Although there have been significant theoretical advances in the field of child neuropsychology, developmental features of adolescence have received less attention. Progress in clinical practice is restricted due to a lack of well-standardized, developmentally appropriate assessment techniques. This article addresses these issues in relation to executive skills. These abilities are targeted for 2 reasons: first, because they are often considered to be mature during late childhood and adolescence, despite limited investigation in this age range; and second, because of their central importance to efficient day-to-day functioning. Using a normative sample of 138 children, aged 11.0 to 17.11 years, this article plots the development of executive skills through late childhood and early adolescence and interprets progress in these skills with reference to current neurological and cognitive theory.
Much of the childhood loneliness research is misleading because it confounds objective and subjective measures of loneliness. The overall aim of this research was to examine the relationship between social isolation and emotional loneliness.
Three extreme groups were identified in a sample of 640 4-9-year-old children. There were two ('rejected' [N=60] and 'lonely' [N=146]) in which social and emotional loneliness were unrelated. The first were socially isolated (rejected) but they did not feel lonely. The second group felt lonely but they were not socially isolated. The third group ('rejected/ lonely') consisted of 61 children who were rejected and also felt lonely.
Felt loneliness and social rejection were experienced together by 61 children, but 206 children experienced either one or the other, but not both. The fourth and largest group [N=374] were neither rejected nor lonely. Differences between the groups were found on direct observation measures of solitariness, sociability, and aggression; peer reports of shyness, aggression, prosocial behaviour, disruptive behaviour and inability to take teasing; self-reports of self-worth and competence, self-reports of supportive relationships; and measures of language use.
The results indicate that it is loneliness and not rejection that co-occurs with emotional problems.
The skill-deficit view of loneliness posits that unskilled social interactions block lonely individuals from social inclusion. The current studies examine loneliness in relation to social attention and perception processes thought to be important for socially skilled behavior. Two studies investigate the association between social monitoring (attention to social information and cues) and self-reported loneliness and number of close social ties. In Study 1, higher levels of loneliness are related to increased rather than decreased incidental social memory. In Study 2, individuals with fewer reported friends show heightened decoding of social cues in faces and voices. Results of these studies suggest that the attentional and perceptual building blocks of socially skilled behavior remain intact, and perhaps enhanced, in lonely individuals. Implications for recent models of belonging regulation and theories of loneliness are discussed.
In 2 experiments, the authors tested predictions from cognitive models of social anxiety regarding attentional biases for social and nonsocial cues by monitoring eye movements to pictures of faces and objects in high social anxiety (HSA) and low social anxiety (LSA) individuals. Under no-stress conditions (Experiment 1), HSA individuals initially directed their gaze toward neutral faces, relative to objects, more often than did LSA participants. However, under social-evaluative stress (Experiment 2), HSA individuals showed reduced biases in initial orienting and maintenance of gaze on faces (cf. objects) compared with the LSA group. HSA individuals were also relatively quicker to look at emotional faces than neutral faces but looked at emotional faces for less time, compared with LSA individuals, consistent with a vigilant-avoidant pattern of bias.
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