Experiences and perpetuations of loneliness: Exploring cognitive and psychological vulnerabilities and community-based solutions

Mhairi Bowe, Juliet R. H. Wakefield, Blerina Këllezi, Clifford Stevenson, Adam Potter

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Loneliness is detrimental to both physical health and psychological wellbeing. Not only does it deny the individual access to the vital and well-established social resources offered by meaningful group connections and community belonging, but it can also lead to additional vulnerabilities and cyclical processes associated with responses to perceived social threat, leading to further withdrawal. We report the results of a mixed method exploration of the experiences and group processes associated with community support services that are designed to improve social connection. First, we report the results of an interview study (N=30) with individuals involved with community services. Thematic analysis revealed three primary themes. Theme 1 reveals the identity processes associated with experiences of loneliness, disconnection, and the need to belong. Theme 2 illustrates the role of service-user identity and the conditions under which it forms. Finally, Theme 3 shows the outcomes associated with increases in group membership, community connection, engagement, and social confidence. Second, we report the results of a three-wave longitudinal community survey showing that engaging with community-based services at baseline (T1) predicts stronger community identification (T2), reduced anxiety (T3), and reduced hypervigilance (T3). Implications for service delivery, loneliness reduction, and the processes involved in the perpetuation and reduction of loneliness will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023
Event19th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology 2023 - Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Duration: 30 Jun 20234 Jul 2023


Conference19th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology 2023
Internet address


  • Loneliness, community, hypervigilance, identity, anxiety, health

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