Article

Perceived Social Isolation: Social Threat Vigilance and Its Implications for Health

Louise C. Hawkley and John T. Cacioppo

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195342161.013.0050

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Perceived Social Isolation: Social Threat Vigilance and Its Implications for Health

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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

Article.  7561 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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