Loneliness can be really daunting and it is not just restricted to the elderly. A study ‘Loneliness around the world: Age, gender, and cultural differences in loneliness‘ that came out in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggested various aspects of loneliness.
In recent years, loneliness has negatively affected people’s mental health and the economy. The study contained information from nearly 55,000 people aged between 16 and 99 from 237 countries, islands and union territories. According to Professor Manuela Barreto of the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and first author of the study, “Contrary to what people may expect, loneliness is not a predicament unique to older people. In fact, younger people report greater feelings of loneliness. Since loneliness stems from the sense that one’s social connections are not as good as desired, this might be due to the different expectations younger and older people hold. The age pattern we discovered seems to hold across many countries and cultures.”
Here are some of the key findings
* Younger people reported more loneliness than the middle-aged.
* The middle-aged reported more loneliness than older people.
* Men reported more loneliness than women.
* People in individualistic (vs. collectivist) countries reported more loneliness.
* Age, gender and culture interacted to predict loneliness.
The research study comprised of various questions around companionship, isolation, understanding self-worth, feelings and the participants answered from the scale of one to five. “Individualistic cultures place a high value on self-reliance and are associated with loose social networks, primarily dominated by chosen relationships; collectivist cultures encourage interdependence and are patterned by tighter social networks, dominated by family and other ingroup members. While both types of culture involve risks to sociality, those tend to be linked to high social needs in collectivist societies and to low social contact in individualistic ones, both of which affect the match between ideal and actual relationships,” read the study.
The study also suggested that age, gender and culture interacted to predict loneliness, although those interactions did not qualify the main effects, and simply accentuated them. It found the most vulnerable to loneliness were younger men living in individualistic cultures.