The case for a hierarchical, oblique, and bidimensional structure of loneliness


We argue that loneliness possesses a hierarchical, bidimensional, and oblique structure, and draw out implications for psychopathology research. Within a higher-order, unidimensional loneliness construct can be found first-order facets of loneliness - Lack of Pleasurable Engagement and Painful Disconnection. The two first-order factors display differential relations to indices of symptoms, negative affect, sociability, and life events, but relate similarly to indices of positive affect. Factor-analytic and correlational data from studies on undergraduates were quite consistent with our view, as were preliminary data from youth psychiatric inpatients. Our findings bear on the nature and structure of loneliness; we speculate that they may also inform research on psychopathology and therapeutics.

Publication Title

Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology