ERIC Number: ED326767
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Age Differences in Loneliness: A Meta-Analysis.
While public opinion associates old age with loneliness, some social scientists argue that emotional responses such as loneliness decline in the later years of life. The purpose of this study was to empirically examine life cycle fluctuations in loneliness. To do so, a meta-analysis of 14 data sets involving over 25,000 respondents was performed. The results showed that loneliness was highest among young adults, declined over midlife, and increased modestly in old age. Methodological cautions are advised in interpreting these findings. Three possible types of explanations for age trends in loneliness include methodological artifacts, analysis of the high or low level of loneliness in specific age groups, and general models of loneliness which incorporate age-related factors. With regard to methodological factors, the possibility of differential volunteering rates exists, as does the question of measurement equivalence across age groups. With regard to age specific explanations, some authors have offered analyses of why adolescents are so prone to loneliness (separation from parents, identity diffusion, excessive rejection). Others have claimed that the declining social ties of the elderly make them susceptible to loneliness. Finally, a model of loneliness has been proposed that uses a single primary factor to explain fluctuations in loneliness in which loneliness results when there is a discrepancy between people's desired and achieved levels of contact. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (98th, Boston, MA, August 10-14, 1990).