Loneliness: Sociological and Psychological Causes, and a Proposed Classification Scheme
LONELINESS: SOCIOLOGICAL &PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES AND APROPOSED CLASSIFICATION SCHEMEChris C. Martin | December 6, 2012 | SOC 719R
WHAT IS LONELINESS? Loneliness is the subjective feeling of havingone’s affiliative needs unmetHawkley and Cacioppo 2010; Victor et al. 2000 Affiliative needs vary by person; perceptionof unmet needs also varies Loneliness is emotional isolation, not socialisolationWenger et al. 1996; Victor et al. 2000
BIG NAMES IN LONELINESS RESEARCH John Cacioppo Louise Hawkley Christina Victor
QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS How is loneliness measured? Can psychological and sociological causesbe separated? Is there evidence for both? Is a more granular classification schemepossible? Can it be tested?
DIVERGENT MEASURES Single-item vs multi-item Single-item example: What other things worry you: Loneliness(yes/no)Finnish Voter Barometer 1976 Short vs. long 3 questions in Dutch Parl. Elect. Study 1998 18 questions in Young Life and Times Survey, 2011 Faceted vs. Non-faceted Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults (see next slide) Mass administration vs. small-N
MULTI-ITEM MEASURES IN SOCIOLOGYDutch Parliamentary Election Study 1998 Nobody has special interest in you Even closest family not interested I often feel abandonedDutch Parliamentary Election Study 2002/2003 Respondent feels lonely When you have problems, you are on your own There is always someone you can ask for help
MULTI-ITEM MEASURES IN PSYCHOLOGYVery Commonly UsedUCLA Loneliness Scale (version 3; Russell 1996): frequency and intensity(e.g., “How often do you feel alone?”, “How often do you feel part of a group offriends,” and “How often do you feel that there are people who really understandyou?”).Sometimes UsedLoneliness Scale (De Jong, Gierveld & Kamphuis 1985)(e.g. “I experience a general sense of emptiness”)Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults (SELSA; DiTommaso &Spinner 1993): family vs. friends(e.g., “I feel close to my family”, "I have someone who fulfills my needs for intimacy”)
LONELINESS: MULTIPLE LEVELS OF ANALYSIS Finest level: Gene expressionCole 2009 Midlevel: Social sciences Broadest level: HistoricalElias 1985
NEED SETTING CAN BE SEPARATED FROMNEED SATISFACTIONThe PersonNeedsFriends &Relatives
FOUR PUTATIVE PROCESSES SOCIOLOGICAL Blockage: Physical barriers to connecting Network Loss: Death or other loss of close ties Alienation: Unintentionally distancing close ties PSYCHOLOGICAL Foreclosure: Intentionally pulling self away
1.1 DISABILITY Common among the elderly Demands time and effort to compensate forlow mobility Could change social habits Could be ameliorated by telephone, internet
1.2 NEIGHBORHOOD DECAY Described in Heat WaveKlinenberg 2002 Associated with White flight, industrialrelocation, poverty Removal of some “public” spaces; increasedrisk of crime in others Could be ameliorated by telephone, internet Can be double edged: binding vs. dividing
2. DISCONNECTEDNESS Death of spouse or friends Relocation or confinement---- What about: childlessness (Zhang and Liu2007)
2.1 DEATH OF SPOUSE Widowhood is a robust predictor ofloneliness (Berg et al. 1981; Hansson et al.1987; Savikko et al 2005; van Baarsen et al.1999)
2.2 RELOCATION AND CONFINEMENT Insufficient research on relocation, such asexpatriation and repatriation Prison research shows loneliness duringconfinement, but no research about post-confinement periodCarcedo et al. 2011
3. ALIENATION Unintentional distancing of others Result of stigmatized or outlying attributes
3.1 ASSOCIATED ATTRIBUTES Mental illnessWright et al. 2007 Gay/lesbian/bisexual orientationKuyper and Fokkema 2010 Ethnicity, but mixed support hereFokkema and Kuyper 2009; Victor et al. 2012
4 FORECLOSURE Deliberate distancing from other Entails change of identity Not the same as diffusion
4.1 PROCESSES Episodes of loneliness cause identity change Identity change causes less socializing Social focus is narrowedFredrickson 2001 Outlook becomes hypervigilant and threat-orientedCacioppo et al. 2006 Cognitive decline may occurTilvis et al. 2004
4.1 WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT FORECLOSURE? Occurs at the person level Interventions are easier to test andimplement Most effective intervention: modification ofmaladaptive social cognitionMasi et al. 2011
PART III: MODELING LONELINESSBlockageDisconnectednessAlienationForeclosureLoneliness
REFERENCESCacioppo, John T., and Louise C. Hawkley. 2009. "Perceived social isolation andcognition." Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13(10):447-54.Carcedo, Rodrigo J. et al. 2011. "Heterosexual Romantic Relationships Inside ofPrison Partner Status as Predictor of Loneliness, Sexual Satisfaction, andQuality of Life." International Journal of Offender Therapy and ComparativeCriminology 55(6):898-924.Cole, Steve W. 2009. "Social regulation of human gene expression." CurrentDirections in Psychological Science 18(3):132-37.Fokkema, Tineke, and Lisette Kuyper. 2009. "The relation between socialembeddedness and loneliness among older lesbian, gay, and bisexualadults in the Netherlands." Archives of Sexual Behavior 38(2):264-75.Fredrickson, Barbara L. 2001. "The role of positive emotions in positivepsychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions." AmericanPsychologist 56(3):218-26.Hawkley, Louise C., and John T. Cacioppo. 2010. "Loneliness matters: A theoreticaland empirical review of consequences and mechanisms." Annals ofBehavioral Medicine 40(2):218-27.Klinenberg, Eric. 2002. Heat wave?: a social autopsy of disaster in Chicago.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Kuyper, Lisette, and Tineke Fokkema. 2010. "Loneliness Among Older Lesbian,Gay, and Bisexual Adults: The Role of Minority Stress." Archives of SexualBehavior 39(5):1171-80.Masi, Christopher M., Hsi-Yuan Chen, Louise C. Hawkley, and John T.Cacioppo. 2011. "A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Reduce Loneliness."Personality and Social Psychology Review 15(3):219-66.Oh, Joong-Hwan, and Sangmoon Kim. 2009. "Aging, neighborhoodattachment, and fear of crime: testing reciprocal effects." Journal ofCommunity Psychology 37(1):21-40.Savikko, N., P. Routasalo, R. S. Tilvis, T. E. Strandberg, and K. H. Pitkälä. 2005."Predictors and subjective causes of loneliness in an aged population."Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 41(3):223-33.Tilvis, Reijo S. et al. 2004. "Predictors of Cognitive Decline and Mortality ofAged People Over a 10-Year Period." The Journals of Gerontology Series A:Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 59(3):M268-M274.Victor, Christina, Vanessa Burholt, and Wendy Martin. 2012. "Loneliness andEthnic Minority Elders in Great Britain: An Exploratory Study." Journal ofCross-Cultural Gerontology 27(1):65-78.Victor, Christina, Sasha Scambler, John Bond, and Ann Bowling. 2000. "Beingalone in later life: loneliness, social isolation and living alone." Reviews inClinical Gerontology 10(04):407-17.Zhang, Zhenmei, and Mark D. Hayward. 2001. "Childlessness and thePsychological Well-Being of Older Persons." The Journals of GerontologySeries B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 56(5):S311-S320.
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