Feelings of Loneliness May Contribute to Increased Self-Involvement

Man walking alone on brick wallLoneliness may increase self-centeredness, according to a study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The study, which spanned a decade, found self-centered behavior may also increase loneliness.

Loneliness and Self-Centeredness

The study included 10 years of data on 229 Hispanic, Caucasian, and African-American people. The participants ranged from 50-68 years old when the study began. The diverse group was randomly selected and included a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Even when controlling for demographic and other variables that could affect behavior, researchers found loneliness was linked to self-centered behavior. They believe this behavior likely also increases loneliness.

In 2006, the study’s authors theorized that an evolutionary model might help explain loneliness. The pain of loneliness, they speculated, triggers a desire for self-preservation. That is because human well-being largely depends on cooperation and mutual aid. This cooperation might even be why humans have been such evolutionary successes.

The self-preservation loneliness triggers can increase self-involvement, they suggest. However, that self-involvement is a poor match for the demands of society, potentially exacerbating loneliness. They say their data supports the notion that loneliness and the behaviors that accompany it have biological underpinnings shaped by evolution.

Loneliness and Health

Researchers are increasingly noting a connection between loneliness and health. A 2016 study found seniors who reported higher levels of loneliness were more likely to have pre-clinical markers of Alzheimer’s. A 2015 study found loneliness is a more significant risk factor for death than obesity.

Loneliness is a subjective experience, so number of social connections is not necessarily an accurate measure of experiences of loneliness. A variety of factors can affect loneliness. A recent study, for instance, found more loneliness among people who frequently use social media.


  1. Cacioppo, J. T., Chen, H. Y., & Cacioppo, S. (2017). Reciprocal influences between loneliness and self-centeredness: A cross-lagged panel analysis in a population-based sample of African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian adults. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Doi:10.1177/0146167217705120
  2. Loneliness contributes to self-centeredness for sake of self-preservation. (2017, June 13). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170613102013.htm

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  • Ella

    June 19th, 2017 at 11:23 AM

    I rather like being all alone and never feel that lonely aspect to it.

    It is a great way for me to decompress and let go of the not so pleasant stuff from the day. I guess that those who get more out of being with other people don’t experience that in the same way that I do.

  • Trinity

    June 19th, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    Aren’t there days when you wish that you could go back in time to a place where we didn’t always know every single thing about every single person that we know because social media wasn’t a thing then?

  • kally

    June 21st, 2017 at 7:05 AM

    As an extroverted person it makes me cringe to think about being alone all the time. I guess that I get so much of my energy from being around other people that it is hard to consider not having that to feed off of.

  • Hudson

    June 22nd, 2017 at 7:19 AM

    I suppose that if you are lonely then it is natural that you would tend to turn inward and be more focused on self than others. Why would there be motivation to be anything other than that really?

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