THE EXPERIENCE OF LONELINESS IN YOUNG ADULTHOOD: A CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY
Abstract: Culture has been shown to influence the experience of loneliness. Studies have shown that young adults are especially prone to experiencing loneliness. The aim of this mixed-methods study was to investigate if young adults from an individualistic culture experience loneliness differently compared to young adults from a collectivistic culture. Eighty participants from Sweden and 80 participants from India aged 18-30 answered De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale (DJGLS) and Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-R) through an online survey which together with additional demographics provided the quantitative data. Six semi-structured interviews (three from each culture) provided the qualitative data, exploring how the participants described their experiences of loneliness and its connection to culture. Young adults from India reported significantly higher levels of social isolation and social loneliness compared to young adults from Sweden. No significant difference was found in emotional loneliness. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data provided a deeper insight into these findings, and the qualitative results are discussed in light of the quantitative. Three main themes emerged: descriptions of loneliness, young adulthood as a stage in life where loneliness might be high, and cultural values that affect the experience of loneliness.
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