A subjective sense of social isolation produces feelings of loneliness or social pain (Cacioppo & Patrick, 2008). This distressing constellation of feelings and emotions results from a discrepancy between one’s actual and desired social relationships. Thus, lonely individuals are not satisfied with the quality of their actual social relationships, leaving them lacking a sense of social inclusion and belonging. Not to be confused with objective social isolation or a low quantity of social relationships, individuals can feel lonely when alone just as much as they can feel lonely when surrounded by a sea of people. Identifying individuals who suffer from loneliness is important, since over time loneliness can seriously impair physical, cognitive, and psychological health.
Loneliness is typically assessed using self-report items assessing the degree to which individuals endorse statements describing thoughts and feelings commonly...
References and Readings
- Cacioppo, J. T., & Patrick, B. (2008). Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar