Loneliness and psychological distress

J Psychol. 1991 May;125(3):257-62. doi: 10.1080/00223980.1991.10543289.


Research on relationships between loneliness and psychological symptoms has generally shown significant positive associations across a wide spectrum of psychopathologies. However, such results may be artificial, to some extent, given the high intercorrelations of typical psychopathology measures. In the current study, we examined associations between psychological symptoms, assessed by the Symptom Check List-90 (SCL-90; Derogatis, Lipman, & Covi, 1973) and loneliness, as measured by the UCLA-R Loneliness Scale (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980), in college students. Using partial correlations to control for the confounding influence of generalized distress, relationships between loneliness and individual dimensions of distress were examined. Results indicate a significant association between loneliness and interpersonal sensitivity (low self-esteem) and depression. Other dimensions of distress were not significantly related to loneliness. In addition, no sex differences in patterns of association were observed. Results support the notion that self-blame and self-devaluation are strong correlates of loneliness.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology