Will loneliness destroy a person

Loneliness makes you self-centered - and vice versa

Feeling lonely now and then, separated and isolated from other people, this feeling is part of life. A representative survey recently revealed that four out of five Germans feel lonely at least sometimes - regardless of whether they were 18 years old like the youngest respondents or 70 like the oldest. According to the survey, loneliness was a constant companion for every eighth person.

Three psychologists from the University of Chicago have now looked at what happens in the long run to people who often feel so abandoned. John Cacioppo, who works as a professor at the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, and two colleagues examined data from almost 230 test subjects who had been questioned repeatedly for over eleven years. They were between 50 and 68 years old at the start of their studies, and between 61 and 79 years at the end.

Over this period of eleven years, the loneliness mainly led to the test subjects becoming more self-centered, the scientists write in the journal “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin”“. That doesn't sound particularly surprising, and it wasn't for the researchers either. If you feel lonely and have less fulfilling relationships with other people, you inevitably have to limit yourself to yourself.

Those who revolve around themselves a lot tend to get lonely

However, the researchers also found the opposite effect: those who were more self-centered than others and circled around themselves a lot at the beginning of the study also felt more lonely years later.

So there seems to be a direct link between feeling isolated from others and a tendency to be overly concerned with oneself, both ways. Once triggered, these two unfortunately fuel each other. "Those who become more self-centered run the risk of being stuck in the feeling of loneliness in the long term," the scientists conclude. And those who are lonely tend to revolve more and more around themselves as a result.