Study: Loneliness can be “transmitted” from one person to another

contagious disease

Going by a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, the University of California-San Diego and Harvard, loneliness is quite similar to any other contagious disease, and can easily ‘spread’ from one person to another.

The findings of the research, to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, are based on longitudinal data from a comprehensive six-decade long study that has been observing health conditions.

The statistics revealed that lonely people often share their loneliness with others; as a result of which, over a period of time, the lonely individuals’ group moves to the periphery of societal networks.

Talking about the loneliness condition, John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist and a leading scholar of loneliness, said that loneliness is not a “property” of an individual - it can be “transmitted” even to people who may not be in a direct contact with a lonely person.

About the findings of the research, Cacioppo, one of the members of the study team, said: “We detected an extraordinary pattern of contagion that leads people to be moved to the edge of the social network when they become lonely.”

Noting that several mental and physical diseases result from loneliness, Cacioppo said that people should recognize loneliness and help lonely individuals, so that they do not move to the ‘edges’ of social networks.