Emotional and social loneliness and differences in adult attachment profiles - a study of university students

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för psykologi

Abstract: Research has shown that university students are extra vulnerable to experiencing loneliness because of the social, structural, and behavioral changes associated with starting to study at university. Studies have also shown that different attachment profiles can have an impact on an individual's experience of loneliness. A lot of earlier research has investigated loneliness as one whole concept, so the aim of the present study was to look into both emotional and social loneliness in university students and to understand their relationship with adult attachment. One-hundred and twenty-six university students over 18 years old answered De Jong-Gierveld Loneliness Scale (DJGLS) and Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) through an online survey. A quantitative between groups design was used to explore the specific aims of the study. For the statistical analysis the participants were divided into four groups based on type and amount of loneliness. The results of the study showed that emotional loneliness was associated with insecure-ambivalent attachment and social loneliness associated with insecure-avoidant attachment. Those with high levels of emotional loneliness had significantly higher levels of insecure-ambivalent attachment compared with those with high levels of social loneliness. Individuals with low levels of both loneliness types, had significantly higher levels of secure attachment and lower levels of insecure attachment compared with the other groups, which indicates that the more securely attached an individual is the less lonely he or she is. 

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