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Article

Opposing Association of Situational and Chronic Loneliness with Interpersonal Distance

1
School of Psychological Science, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
2
Division of Medical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany
3
Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany
4
Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
5
Research Center Neurosensory Science, University of Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Roee Admon and Oded Klavir
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(9), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091135
Received: 27 July 2021 / Revised: 24 August 2021 / Accepted: 25 August 2021 / Published: 27 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive and Behavioral Patterns across Psychiatric Conditions)
Loneliness is a prevalent condition with adverse effects on physical and mental health. Evolutionary theories suggest it evolved to drive people to reconnect. However, chronic loneliness may result in a negative social bias and self-preservation behaviors, paradoxically driving individuals away from social interactions. Lonely people often feel they are not close to anyone; however, little is known about their interpersonal distance preferences. During COVID-19, many experienced situational loneliness related to actual social isolation. Therefore, there was a unique opportunity to examine both chronic and situational (COVID-19-related) loneliness. In the present study, 479 participants completed an online task that experimentally assessed interpersonal distance preferences in four conditions—passively being approached by a friend or a stranger, and actively approaching a friend or a stranger. Results show that high chronic loneliness was related to a greater preferred distance across conditions. Intriguingly, by contrast, high COVID-19-related loneliness was related to a smaller preferred distance across conditions. These findings provide further support for the evolutionary theory of loneliness: situational loneliness indeed seems to drive people towards reconnection, while chronic loneliness seems to drive people away from it. Implications for the amelioration of chronic loneliness are discussed based on these findings. View Full-Text
Keywords: loneliness; chronic loneliness; interpersonal distance; COVID-19; social interaction; situational loneliness loneliness; chronic loneliness; interpersonal distance; COVID-19; social interaction; situational loneliness
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MDPI and ACS Style

Saporta, N.; Scheele, D.; Lieberz, J.; Stuhr-Wulff, F.; Hurlemann, R.; Shamay-Tsoory, S.G. Opposing Association of Situational and Chronic Loneliness with Interpersonal Distance. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 1135. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091135

AMA Style

Saporta N, Scheele D, Lieberz J, Stuhr-Wulff F, Hurlemann R, Shamay-Tsoory SG. Opposing Association of Situational and Chronic Loneliness with Interpersonal Distance. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(9):1135. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091135

Chicago/Turabian Style

Saporta, Nira, Dirk Scheele, Jana Lieberz, Fine Stuhr-Wulff, René Hurlemann, and Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory. 2021. "Opposing Association of Situational and Chronic Loneliness with Interpersonal Distance" Brain Sciences 11, no. 9: 1135. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091135

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