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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter elaborates on a theory of loneliness and surveys representative evidence that chronic loneliness hijacks brain and biology to produce significant consequences for health and well-being. Feelings of loneliness are the entry point into a regulatory loop that begins with heightened vigilance for perceived social threat. Vigilance for social threat produces attentional, confirmatory, and memory biases. These biases lead to behavioral confirmation processes through which negative social interactions are perpetuated, thereby reinforcing the lonely individual’s belief that he or she has little control or social value. Social pain (e.g., depressive symptoms) continues unabated, and the carrot of social reward lies just beyond reach.

Keywords: loneliness, health, well-being, social isolation, social pain

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