(CBS Local) — Lonliness can be a vicious cycle that leads to more loneliness.
According to a new study by the University of Chicago, loneliness leads to being self-centered and as luck would have it, being self-centered then leads to more loneliness.
The researchers studied data from 229 people aged 50-68 spanning more than a decade. Previous research had concluded that loneliness was nothing more than a “temporary feeling,” but according to this new study, that’s clearly not the case.
“If you get more self-centered, you run the risk of staying locked in to feeling socially isolated,” said John Cacioppo, lead author.
Stephane Cacioppo, co-author, explained their findings on becoming more self-centered.
“It isn’t that one individual is sacrificial to the other,” said Stephanie Cacioppo. “It’s that together they do more than the sum of the parts. Loneliness undercuts that focus and really makes you focus on only your interests at the expense of others.”
Being self-centered can help the feeling of loneliness in the short term, but is not healthy long-term.
“Humans evolved to become such a powerful species in large part due to mutual aid and protection and the changes in the brain that proved adaptive in social interactions,” said John Cacioppo. “When we don’t have mutual aid and protection, we are more likely to become focused on our own interests and welfare. That is, we become more self-centred.”
With this information, what comes next? John Cacioppo addressed the uncertainty of what to do to fight the vicious circle.
“Now that we know loneliness is damaging and contributing to the misery and health care costs of America, how do we reduce it?” said John Cacioppo.