How to Deal with Loneliness: New Study Reveals Surprising Findings about Social Contact


Loneliness is a common human experience that can have a profound impact on our overall well-being. It is often believed that social contact is the solution to combat loneliness. However, a new study challenges this notion, suggesting that social contact may not be the answer to dealing with loneliness. In fact, the study suggests that being in the company of others can sometimes amplify the psychological pain of loneliness. Let’s explore the findings of this study and discuss a more nuanced approach to dealing with loneliness.


The Buffering vs. Amplifying Theories

The study, titled “Alone in a Crowd: Is Social Contact Associated with Less Psychological Pain of Loneliness in Everyday Life?”, examined data sets from Germany and the UK to investigate the impact of social interactions on loneliness. The researchers explored two contrasting theories: the buffering account and the amplifying account.

The buffering account theory proposes that social relationships serve as a buffer, easing the negative effects of loneliness on well-being. Past research has shown that robust social relationships are associated with improved psychological well-being and physical health. On the other hand, the amplifying account theory suggests that the negative effects of loneliness can be intensified in the presence of others.

The Findings

The study conducted three separate studies to examine the paradox of alienation and social contact. The first study analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of German adults. It found that the negative relationship between loneliness and well-being was amplified in the company of others, supporting the amplifying account theory. This effect was consistent across different age groups and genders.

The second study replicated the first study’s findings using a separate sample from the same dataset. The results once again supported the amplifying account theory, indicating that the presence of others did not elevate well-being during intense moments of isolation.

The third study focused on the COVID-19 pandemic period and involved UK residents. The findings reaffirmed the amplifying impact of social interactions on the negative association between loneliness and well-being. Interestingly, in moments of high seclusion, being in the company of others was correlated with lower well-being than being alone.


A More Nuanced Approach

These findings challenge the widely held notion that social contact is a remedy for solitude. Instead, they propose that a more nuanced approach is required to effectively address emotional isolation. Simply increasing social interactions may not alleviate the anguish of feeling alone and can potentially intensify its psychological distress.

To tackle the experience of solitude, it is essential to acknowledge that social contact alone may not be satisfactory. The study emphasizes the necessity for further research and the creation of fresh tactics to combat emotional isolation. Understanding the intricate nature of solitude and exploring additional factors that contribute to overall well-being are pivotal.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Is social contact always beneficial for combating loneliness? A: No, the study suggests that social contact may not always alleviate solitude and can even amplify its negative effects on well-being.

Q: What are the two contrasting theories examined in the study? A: The study explores the buffering account theory, which suggests that social relationships can buffer the negative impacts of lonesomeness, and the amplifying account theory, which proposes that social interactions can intensify the psychological pain of loneliness.

Q: Do the findings of the study apply to all age groups and genders? A: Yes, the findings were consistent across different age groups and genders.

Q: Can loneliness affect the quality of social interactions? A: Yes, being alone can lead to poor social behavior and a decrease in the quality of social interactions due to cynicism, distrust, and fear of rejection.

Q: What should be considered when dealing with loneliness? A: Dealing with alienation requires a more comprehensive approach that goes beyond increasing social contact. Additional factors contributing to well-being should be explored to develop effective strategies for combating loneliness.

Q: What are the implications of this study? A: The study challenges the traditional view that social contact alone is the solution to being alone. It calls for further research to gain a deeper understanding of loneliness and develop more effective approaches to address it.


Loneliness is a complex issue that affects many individuals. While social contact is often recommended as a solution, a new study suggests that it may not always be the answer. The findings indicate that being in the company of others can sometimes amplify the psychological pain of desolation. To effectively deal with loneliness, a more nuanced approach is necessary. Further research is needed to explore additional factors and develop strategies that truly alleviate the distress of solitude. By gaining a better understanding of solitude, we can work towards creating a society where individuals feel connected, understood, and supported.

Study: “Alone in a Crowd: Is Social Contact Associated with Less Psychological Pain of Loneliness in Everyday Life?”
Authors: Olga Stavrova and Dongning Ren
Publication date: May 24, 2023
Published in: Journal of Happiness Studies
DOI: 10.1007/s10902-023-00661-3


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link