The above loneliness definition suggests that loneliness is not the same thing as aloneness is a difference between solitude and isolation. One can be alone but not lonely. Loneliness reflects a discrepancy between the current quality of one’s social relation solitude the desired quality of one’s social relationships. If a person does not wish to improve one’s social relations, then the person may not be considered to be experiencing loneliness.
The Experience of Loneliness
What are the elements of loneliness? There are many possible feelings associated with loneliness. Mikluciner and Segal (1990) conducted some studies in which participants were asked to describe a situation in which they felt loneliness. In their first study, they had a list of 40 loneliness feelings. Some of the feelings (with the percentage of participants) included self-pity (32 percent), the feeling that there was no one who understood them (17 per cent), helplessness (24 per cent), a sense of being different (20 per cent), boredom (14 per cent), and others had rejected them (18 per cent). These loneliness research findings provide insight concerning the experience of loneliness.
Possible Causes of Loneliness
There are many possible causes of loneliness. The possible causes of loneliness may be situational (e.g., lack of social support, moving to a new location, or having a job that requires you to work many hours), personal (e.g., shyness or social skill problems), or a combination of ritual national and personal variables (being different from the people around you).
Mehrabian and Stefl (1995) found that shyness was positively correlated with loneliness. In other words, greater shyness was associated with greater loneliness. One possible explanation of this finding is that shyness causes loneliness. However, because this study was correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions. There are other possible
explanations. For example, it is possible that shyness may be correlated with other personality characteristics that cause loneliness, and there is no causal relationship between shyness and loneliness.
Stokes (1985) found that loneliness was negatively correlated with the frequency of receiving supportive behaviours. In other words, greater loneliness was associated with receiving less supportive behaviours. It is possible that the lack of social supbehavioursa cause of loneliness. However, because the finding is correlational, there are other possible explanations for the finding and a lack of social support may not have been a cause of loneliness.
Bell (1993) found that emotional loneliness was negatively correlated with the perceived similiarity of one’s interests and ideas with friends and acquaintances. In other words, people who were more lonely were more likely to feel that their ideas and interests were not shared by friends and acquaintances. Because this study was correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions. There are a number of possible explanations. For example, one explanation is that being different was a cause of loneliness. Another possible explanation is being lonely causes one to perceive that one is different.