Advertisement

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 148–161 | Cite as

Developmental Change in Loneliness and Attitudes Toward Aloneness in Adolescence

  • Sofie Danneel
  • Marlies Maes
  • Janne Vanhalst
  • Patricia Bijttebier
  • Luc Goossens
Empirical Research

Abstract

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to experiencing feelings of loneliness. Changes in different social contexts and the inability to cope with these changes can result in different types of loneliness. According to the multidimensional view on loneliness, loneliness can be experienced in relationships with peers and parents and can be placed in a broader perspective by taking into account attitudes toward aloneness (i.e., positive and negative). However, we do not yet know how loneliness and attitudes toward aloneness develop across adolescence. These developmental trends were examined in two samples of Flemish adolescents consisting of 834 adolescents (61.9% girls, M age  = 14.84; Sample 1), and 968 adolescents (58.6% girls, M age  = 14.82; Sample 2), respectively. Adolescents filled out the Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents (LACA) during regular school hours on three (Sample 1) and four (Sample 2) measurement occasions with a 1-year interval. Latent growth curve modeling (LGCM) was applied. In line with theoretical notions, adolescents’ parent-related loneliness and positive attitude toward aloneness were expected to increase, and adolescents’ peer-related loneliness and negative attitude toward aloneness were expected to decrease. Clear evidence was found for the hypotheses regarding attitudes toward aloneness. The results regarding peer-related loneliness were inconsistent across samples and parent-related loneliness decreased, which was in contrast with theoretical expectations. In general, the two types of loneliness and attitudes toward aloneness changed in different directions during adolescence, suggesting the added value of a multidimensional view on loneliness.

Keywords

Loneliness Attitudes toward aloneness Developmental changes Longitudinal measurement invariance 

Notes

Funding

This study was funded by Fund For Scientific Research Flanders (FOW) under project number G.0565.15 N.

Author Contributions

S.D. conceived of the study, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript; M.M. helped to perform the statistical analyses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and critically revised the manuscript; J.V. collected the data and critically revised the manuscript; P.B. critically revised the manuscript. L.G. conceived of the study, participated in the interpretation of the data, helped to draft the manuscript, and critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10964_2017_685_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
Supplementary Information
10964_2017_685_MOESM2_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Supplementary Information

References

  1. Barrett, P. (2007). Structural equation modeling: Adjudging model fit. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 815–824. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2006.09.018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boomsma, A. (2000). Reporting analyses of covariance structures. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 7, 461–483. doi:10.1207/ S15328007SEM0703_6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, T. A. (2006). Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chen, F. F. (2007). Sensitivity of goodness of fit indexes to lack of measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 14, 464–504. doi: 10.1080/10705510701301834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohn, L. D. (1991). Sex differences in the course of personality development: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 252–266. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.109.2.252.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Connolly, J. A., & Johnson, A. M. (1996). Adolescents’ romantic relationships and the structure and quality of their close interpersonal ties. Personal Relationships, 3, 185–195. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.1996.tb00111.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corsano, P., Majorano, M., & Champretavy, L. (2006). Psychological well-being in adolescence: The contribution of interpersonal relations and experience of being alone. Adolescence, 41, 341–353.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Duncan, T. E., & Duncan, S. C. (2009). The ABC’s of LGM: An introductory guide to latent variable growth curve modeling. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3, 979–991. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00224.x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1992). Age and sex differences in perceptions of networks of personal relationships. Child Development, 63, 103–115. doi: 10.2307/1130905.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Furman, W., & Collins, A. (2009). Adolescent romantic relationships and experiences. In K. H. Rubin, W. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 341–360). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Goossens, L. (2006). Affect, emotion, and loneliness in adolescence. In S. Jackson, & L. Goossens (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent development (pp. 51–70). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  12. Goossens, L. (Ed.) (2016). Leuvense Eenzaamheidsschaal voor Kinderen en Adolescenten: Handleiding [Loneliness and aloneness scale for children and adolescents: Manual]. Leuven, Belgium: Acco.Google Scholar
  13. Hadiwijaya, H., Klimstra, T. A., Vermunt, J. K., Branje, S. J. T., & Meeus, W. H. J. (2016). On the development of harmony, turbulence, and independence in parent-adolescent relationships: A five-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0627-7.
  14. Heinrich, L. A., & Gullone, E. (2006). The clinical significance of loneliness: A literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 26, 695–718. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2006.04.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Houghton, S., Hattie, J., Wood, L., Carroll, A., Martin, K., & Tan, C. (2014). Conceptualising loneliness in adolescents: Development and validation of a self-report instrument. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 45, 604–616. doi: 10.1007/s10578-013-0429-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55. doi: 10.1080/10705519909540118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Larson, R. W. (1997). The emergence of solitude as a constructive domain of experience in early adolescence. Child Development, 68, 80–93. doi: 10.2307/1131927.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Larson, R., & Richards, M. H. (1991). Daily companionship in late childhood and early adolescence: Changing developmental contexts. Child Development, 62, 284–300. doi: 10.2307/1131003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Larson, R. W., Richards, M. H., Moneta, G., Holmbeck, G., & Duckett, E. (1996). Changes in adolescents’ daily interactions with their families from ages 10 to 18: Disengagement and transformation. Developmental Psychology, 32, 744–754. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.32.4.744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Laursen, B., & Hartl, A. C. (2013). Understanding loneliness during adolescence: Developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 1261–1268. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.06.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Little, R. J. A. (1988). A test for missing completely ad random for multivariate data with missing values. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 83, 1198–1202. doi: 10.1080/01621459.1988.10478722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Little, T. D., Cunningham, W. A., Shahar, G., & Widaman, K. F. (2002). To parcel or not to parcel: Exploring the question, weighing the merits. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 151–173. doi: 10.1207/S15328007SEM0902_1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Long, C. R., & Averill, J. R. (2003). Solitude: An exploration of benefits of being alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33, 21–44.  10.1111/1468-5914.00204.
  25. MacEvoy, J. P., Weeks, M. S., & Asher, S. R. (2011). Loneliness. In B. B. Brown & M. J. Prinstein (Eds.), Encyclopedia of adolescence (Vol. 2, pp. 178-187). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-373915-5.00116.9.
  26. Maes, M., Klimstra, T., Van den Noortgate, W., & Goossens, L. (2015). Factor structure and measurement invariance of a multidimensional loneliness scale: Comparisons across gender and age. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1829–1837. doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-9986-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marcoen, A., Goossens, L., & Caes, P. (1987). Loneliness in pre through late adolescence: Exploring the contributions of a multidimensional approach. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16, 561–577. doi: 10.1007/BF02138821.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Marcoen, A., & Goossens, L. (1993). Loneliness, attitude toward aloneness, and solitude: Age differences and developmental significance during adolescence. In S. Jackson, H. Rodriguez-Tome (Eds.), Adolescence and its social worlds (pp. 197–227). Hove, UK: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Matsunaga, M. (2008). Item parceling in structural equation modeling: A primer. Communication Methods and Measures, 2, 260–293. doi: 10.1080/19312450802458935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Majorano, M., Musetti, A., Brondino, M., & Corsano, P. (2015). Loneliness, emotional autonomy and motivation for solitary behavior during adolescence. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 3436–3447. doi: 10.1007/s10826-015-0145-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998-2012). Mplus user’s guide. 7th ed. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  32. Perlman, D., & Peplau, L. A. (1981). Toward a social psychology of loneliness. In S. Duck, R. Gilmour (Eds.), Personal relationships in disorder (pp. 31–56). London, UK: Academic Press. Vol. 3.Google Scholar
  33. Qualter, P., Brown, S. L., Rotenberg, K. J., Vanhalst, J., Harris, R. A., Goossens, L., Bangee, M., & Munn, P. (2013). Trajectories of loneliness during childhood and adolescence: Predictors and health outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 1283–1293. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.01.005.
  34. Qualter, P., Vanhalst, J., Harris, R. A., van Roekel, E., Lodder, G., Bangee, M., et al. (2015). Loneliness across the life span. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10, 250–264. doi: 10.1177/1745691615568999.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Rushton, J. P., Brainerd, C. J., & Pressley, M. (1983). Behavioral development and construct validity: The principle of aggregation. Psychological Bulletin, 94, 18–38. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.94.1.18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Russell, D. (1982). The measurement of loneliness. In L. A. Peplau, D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy (pp. 81–104). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (2001). A scaled difference chi-square test statistic for moment structure analysis. Psychometrika, 66, 507–514. doi: 10.1007/BF02296192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scharf, M., Wiseman, H., & Farah, F. (2011). Parent-adolescent relationships and social adjustment: The case of a collectivistic culture. International Journal of Psychology, 46, 177–190. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.528424.
  39. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Teppers, E., Klimstra, T. A., Van Damme, C., Luyckx, K., Vanhalst, J., & Goossens, L. (2013). Personality traits, loneliness, and attitudes toward aloneness in adolescence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 1045–1063. doi: 10.1177/0265407513481445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ulman, J. B. (2013). Structural equation modeling. In B. G. Tabachnick, L. S. Fidell (Eds.), Using multivariate statistics. 6th ed. (pp. 681–785). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  42. Vandenberg, R. J., & Lance, C. E. (2000). A review and synthesis of the measurement invariance literature: Suggestions, practices, and recommendations for organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 3, 4–70. doi: 10.1177/109442810031002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Van de Schoot, R., Lugtig, P., & Hox, J. (2012). A checklist for testing measurement invariance. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 486–492. doi: 10.1080/17405629.2012.686740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Dulmen, M. H. M., & Goossens, L. (2013). Loneliness trajectories. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 1247–1249. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.08.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Vanhalst, J., Goossens, L., Luyckx, K., Scholte, R. H. J., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2013). The development of loneliness from mid- to late adolescence: Trajectory classes, personality traits, and psychosocial functioning. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 1305–1312. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.04.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Vanhalst, J., Luyckx, K., Scholte, R. H. J., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Goossens, L. (2012). Low self-esteem as a risk factor for loneliness in adolescence: Perceived—but not actual—social acceptance as an underlying mechanism. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 1067–1081. doi: 10.1007/s10802-013-9751-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Van Roekel, E., Scholte, R. H., Verhagen, M., Goossens, L., & Engels, R. C. (2010). Loneliness in adolescence: Gene x environment interactions involving the serotonin transporter gene. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, 747–754. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02225.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Weeks, M. S., & Asher, S. R. (2012). Loneliness in childhood: Toward the next generation of assessment and research. In J. B. Benson (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (pp. 1–39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Vol. 42.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofie Danneel
    • 1
  • Marlies Maes
    • 1
  • Janne Vanhalst
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patricia Bijttebier
    • 1
  • Luc Goossens
    • 1
  1. 1.School Psychology and Development in ContextKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)BrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations