The Scientific Study of People Who Are Single:
An Annotated Bibliography

Bella M. DePaulo
Chair, Academic Advisory Board of the Spectrum Institute
Research and Policy Division of the
American Association for Single People (AASP)

January 2, 2004


8. Health, Happiness, Loneliness, and Solitude

Loneliness and Solitude

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of studies of loneliness in the psychology journals. A sampling of those studies is listed here. There are few studies of solitude. A small subset of the loneliness literature is about civil status. In the minds of laypersons--and some scholars--loneliness, living alone, and being single seem to be linked. In fact, however, any such links are likely to be complicated by many of the same factors that qualify the link between happiness and civil status (described in that section). In addition, loneliness cannot be established solely on the basis of objective measures such as the frequency of social interaction, but requires a consideration of factors such as the nature of the interaction and individual differences in the amount and kinds of contact that people prefer.

Burger, J. M. (1995). Individual differences in preference for solitude. Journal of Research in Personality, 29, 85-108.

Cacioppo, J. T., Ernst, J. M., Burleson, M. H., McClintock, M. K., Malarkey, W. B., Hawkley, L. C., Kowalewski, R. B., Paulsen, A., Hobson, J. A., Hugdahl, K., Spiegel, D., & Berntson, G. G. (2000). Lonely traits and concomitant physiological processes: the MacArthur social neuroscience studies. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 35, 143-154.

Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., & Berntson, G. G. (2003). The anatomy of loneliness. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 71-74.

Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., Berntson, G. G., Ernst, J. M., Gibbs, A. C., Stickgold, R., & Hobson, J. A. (2002). Do lonely days invade the nights? Potential social modulation of sleep efficiency. Psychological Science, 13.

Cacioppo, J. T., Hawkley, L. C., Crawford, L. E., Ernst, J. M., Burleson, M. H., Kowaleski, M. A., Malarkey, W. B., Van Cauter, E., & Berntson, G. G. (2002). Loneliness and health: Potential mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 407-417.

Cramer, D. (1993). Living alone, marital status, gender and health. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 3, 1-15.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1984). Being adolescent: Conflict and growth in the teenage years. New York: Basic Books. (Chapter on The self in solitude.)

Dowrick, S. (1991). Intimacy and solitude. New York: Norton.

Dykstra, P. A. (1995). Loneliness among the never and formerly married: The importance of supportive friendships and desire for independence. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 50B, S321-S329.

Ernst, J. M., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1999). Lonely hearts: Psychological perspectives on loneliness. Applied Preventive Psychology, 8, 1-22.

Essex, M. J., & Nam, S. (1987). Marital status and loneliness among older women: The differential importance of close family and friends. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 49, 93-106.

Fischer, C. S., & Phillips, S. L. (1982). Who is alone? Social characteristics of people with small networks. In L. A. Peplau & D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy (pp. 21-39). NY: Wiley.

Gordon, S. (1976). Lonely in America. NY: Simon & Schuster. (Interviews.)

Gornick, V. (1996). Approaching eye level. New York: Beacon Press. (Especially Chapter 6, "On living alone.")

Hawkley, L. C., Burleson, M. H., Berntson, G. G., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2003). Loneliness in everyday life: Cardiovascular activity, psychosocial context, and health behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 105-120.

Hughes, M., & Grove, W. R. (1981). Living alone, social integration, and mental health. American Journal of Sociology, 87, 51-75.

Keith, P. M. (1986). Isolation of the unmarried in later life. Family Relations, 35, 389-395.

Keith, P. M. (1986). The social context and resources of the unmarried in old age. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 23, 81-96.

Keith, P. M., Braito, R., & Breci, M. (1990). Rethinking isolation among the married and the unmarried. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60, 289-297.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Garner, W., Speicher, C., Penn, G. M., Holliday, J., & Glaser, R. (1984). Psychosocial modifiers of immunocompetence in medical students. Psychosomatic Medicine, 46, 7-14.

Kirkpatrick, L. A., Shillito, D. J., & Kellas, S. L. (1999). Loneliness, social support, and perceived relationships with God. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 16, 513-522.

Koropeckyj-Cox, T. (1998). Loneliness and depression in middle and old age: Are the childless more vulnerable? Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 53, 302-312.

Larson, R. W. (1990). The solitary side of life: An examination of the time people spend alone from childhood to old age. Developmental Review, 10, 155-183.

Laslett, P., & Gibson, H. B. (2000). Loneliness in later life. Houndmills, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Long, C. R., Seburn, M., Averill, J. R., & More, T. A. (2003). Solitude experiences: Varieties, settings, and individual differences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 578-583.

Mindel, C. H., & Wright, R. Jr. (1983). Differential living arrangements among the elderly and their subjective well-being. Activities, Adaptation, and Aging, 2, 25-34.

Peplau, L. A., & Perlman, D. (1982). Loneliness: Sourcebook of current theory, research and therapy. NY: Wiley. (Esp. Chapter 4. Suedfeld. Aloneness as a healing experience.)

Pinquart, M. (2003). Loneliness in married, widowed, divorced, and never-married older adults. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 31-53.

Rayburn, C. A. (1986). Loneliness and the single, the widowed, and the divorced. In S. M. Natale (Ed.), Psychotherapy and the lonely patient (pp. 29-46). NY: Haworth Press.

Rokach, A. (1998?). Loneliness in singlehood and marriage. Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior, 2-17.

Rook, K. S. (1984). Research on social support, loneliness, and social isolation: Toward an integration. In P. Shaver (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 239-264). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Rook, K. S. (1988). Toward a more differentiated view of loneliness. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships (pp. 571-589). NY: Wiley.

Rotenberg, K. J. (1998). Stigmatization of transitions in loneliness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 565-576.

Rufus, A. (2003). Party of one: The lonersí manifesto. NY: Marlowe & Company.

Storr, A. (1988). Solitude: A return to the self. NY: Ballantine Books.

Stroebe, W., Stroebe, M., Abakoumkin, G., & Shut, H. (1996). The role of loneliness and social support in adjustment to loss: A test of attachment versus stress theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1241-1249.

Thoits, P. A. (1983). Multiple identities and psychological well-being: A reformulation and test of the social isolation hypothesis. American Sociological Review, 48, 174-187.

Trout, D. L. (1980). The role of social isolation in suicide. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 10, 10-23/

Weiss, R. S. (1981). The study of loneliness. In P. J. Stein (Ed.), Single Life: Unmarried Adults in Social Context (pp. 152-164). New York: St. Martinís Press.

Wheeler, L., Reis, H., & Nezlek, J. (1983). Loneliness, social interaction, and sex roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 943-953.


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