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Article

The Missing Measure of Loneliness: A Case for Including Neededness in Loneliness Scales

Philosophy Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada
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Academic Editors: Marlies Maes, Pamela Qualter, Marcus Mund and Luzia Heu
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010429
Received: 28 September 2021 / Revised: 1 December 2021 / Accepted: 18 December 2021 / Published: 31 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Loneliness: An Issue for Personal Well-Being and Public Health)
Prominent tools used to measure loneliness such as the UCLA Scale and DJGS include no items related to being needed, i.e., neededness. More recent scales such as the DLS and SELSA do include items on neededness, but only within their romantic loneliness subscales. This paper proposes that new iterations of loneliness scales should include in all subscales two items on neededness: (a) whether a person feels important to someone else and (b) whether that person has good ways to serve others’ well-being. The paper surveys cognate studies that do not rely on loneliness scales but establish a link between neededness and feelings of social connection. It then highlights ways in which neededness items would improve the ability of loneliness scales to specify the risk profile, to delineate variations in the emotional tone and quality of loneliness, and to propose suitable interventions. The paper outlines a theoretical argument—drawing on moral philosophy—that prosociality and being needed are non-contingent, morally urgent human needs, postulating that the protective benefits of neededness vary according to at least four factors: the significance, persistence, non-instrumentality, and non-fungibility of the ways in which a person is needed. Finally, the paper considers implications for the design of appropriate remedies for loneliness. View Full-Text
Keywords: belonging; De Jong-Gierveld Scale; loneliness; loneliness scales; neededness; social connection; social needs; UCLA Loneliness Scale belonging; De Jong-Gierveld Scale; loneliness; loneliness scales; neededness; social connection; social needs; UCLA Loneliness Scale
MDPI and ACS Style

Gordy, A.; Luo, H.H.W.; Sidline, M.; Brownlee, K. The Missing Measure of Loneliness: A Case for Including Neededness in Loneliness Scales. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010429

AMA Style

Gordy A, Luo HHW, Sidline M, Brownlee K. The Missing Measure of Loneliness: A Case for Including Neededness in Loneliness Scales. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(1):429. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010429

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gordy, Ariel, Helen H.W. Luo, Margo Sidline, and Kimberley Brownlee. 2022. "The Missing Measure of Loneliness: A Case for Including Neededness in Loneliness Scales" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 1: 429. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010429

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