A couple from Chicago University (United States of America), Stephanie and John Cacioppo recently conducted two studies to reveal that ‘lonely minds’ are hyper-alert to social threats.
The research revealed that when shown negative social cues, the electrical activity in the brains of lonely people was faster and more pronounced. The study carried out on 38 lonely people and 32 who weren’t lonely, measured the electrical activity in the brain of the volunteers as they were given a Stroop test. The Stroop test involves being shown words in different colours and being asked the colours of the words but not the meaning. It is intended to reveal how the participants’ brains worked when it came to automatic and subconscious influences. Results show lonely people are always searching for negativity.
In the second study involving 19 people with 10 lonely ones, they were shown 28 pictures with different aspects including social and positive, social and negative, non-social and positive and non-social and negative. And it was discovered that lonely people responded more to social threats than non-social ones.
Dr. Cacioppo in the four steps he proffered for battling loneliness named the ‘Ease Method’ stated thus:
- Lonely people should extend themselves by accepting social invitations.
- Lonely people should map out a social calendar, and create events for others to participate.
- They should spend time with people of like minds which results in quality relationships.
- They should expect the best by eliciting warmth and goodwill which is reciprocal.