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How the company of others and being alone affect feelings of loneliness and gratitude : an experience sampling study.

Adam, J.T. (2020) How the company of others and being alone affect feelings of loneliness and gratitude : an experience sampling study.

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Abstract:Background. Gratitude as a psychological resource to alleviate or even prevent loneliness in people gains increasing attention. Gratitude exercises are increasingly being used to minimize loneliness. But there is a lack of research on how these two concepts are associated daily and whether it differs when we are surrounded by other people and when being alone. Insight into such differences can contribute to improved ecological momentary gratitude interventions (EMI), by adapting exercises to the specific social context. Objective. The present study investigated the daily association between gratitude and loneliness when surrounded by intimate others, non-intimate others, and when being alone. In that respect, differences between individuals with different trait levels have been explored. Method. An online experience sampling study with 34 college students (M age = 20.65) was conducted over the course of seven days. The UCLA Loneliness Scale and the Multi-Component Gratitude Measure were used to assess trait loneliness and gratitude. During the seven days, participants indicated three times a day how grateful and lonely they feel and with which people they are with at the moment. Results. All individuals feel most lonely when they are alone and most grateful when together with intimate others. Highly trait grateful people also feel grateful when they are alone. Daily association: A moderate negative trait-like association was found in aloneness and intimate company. A gratitude score at a certain time point – when being alone or with intimate others – is influenced by a person’s average level of (state) loneliness. A weak to moderate negative momentary association was found in all contexts. A higher gratitude score at a time point is associated with a lower loneliness score at that time point and vice versa. Only (trait) lonely people show negative as well as positive momentary associations. Conclusion. Inferences about daily feelings of gratitude and loneliness based on a simple trait measure should be made with caution. (1) Before recommending gratitude interventions trait levels of loneliness and gratitude should be assessed together as well as state levels over a certain time period. (2) Daily gratitude and loneliness are differently affected by the type of people who are around and by aloneness. Wider implication: High lonely-little grateful people seem to lack the ability to reflect on the good and appreciative things in their life when being alone. It is recommended that EMIs adapt their exercises to the social situation: when being alone exercises focus on the person themselves and non-human things, when together with close people exercises focus on other people and/or the relationship itself.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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