Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 547–567 | Cite as

Loneliness and Attitudes Toward Aloneness in Adolescence: A Person-Centered Approach

  • Marlies Maes
  • Janne Vanhalst
  • Annette W. M. Spithoven
  • Wim Van den Noortgate
  • Luc Goossens
Empirical Research


In adolescence, feeling lonely and dealing with time spent alone become particularly salient. The present study examined the co-occurrence of parent- and peer-related loneliness, and positive and negative attitudes toward aloneness, using cluster analysis. In three independent samples, covering about 1800 adolescents (61 % female), six meaningful groups were identified. These groups showed different associations with adolescents’ self-esteem and personality, parental responsiveness and psychological control, and peer group functioning and friendships. An adaptive pattern of correlates was found for adolescents in three of the six groups, that is, the Indifference group (with rather low scores on the four constructs), the Moderate group (with moderate scores on the four constructs), and the Negative Attitude Toward Aloneness group. A rather maladaptive pattern of correlates was found for adolescents in the three other groups, that is, the Peer-Related Loneliness group, the Positive Attitude Toward Aloneness group, and the Parent-Related Loneliness group. More specifically, adolescents in the Peer-Related Loneliness and Positive Attitude Toward Aloneness groups may need assistance regarding their relations with their peers, whereas adolescents in the Parent-Related Loneliness group may need assistance regarding their relations with their parents. Implications of these findings for current understanding and optimal measurement of adolescents’ loneliness and aloneness are discussed.


Loneliness Attitudes toward aloneness Cluster analysis Adolescents Parents Peers 


Author Contributions

MM conceived of the study, participated in its design, performed the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; JV conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped to draft the manuscript; AS participated in the interpretation of data and helped to draft the manuscript; WV participated in the interpretation of data and helped to draft the manuscript; LG conceived of the study, participated in its design, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlies Maes
    • 1
  • Janne Vanhalst
    • 1
  • Annette W. M. Spithoven
    • 1
  • Wim Van den Noortgate
    • 2
  • Luc Goossens
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Group of School Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development (SCAD)KU LeuvenLouvainBelgium
  2. 2.Research Group of Methodology of Educational SciencesKU LeuvenLouvainBelgium

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