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


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.


Loneliness Attitudes toward aloneness Developmental changes Longitudinal measurement invariance 



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


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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

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