Loneliness among University Students: Predictive Power of Sex Roles and Attachment Styles on Loneliness*

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the predictive power of sex roles and attachment styles on loneliness. A total of 188 undergraduate students (114 female, and 74 male) from Gazi University completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory, UCLA Loneliness Scale, and Relationship Scales Questionnaire. Hierarchic Multiple Regression analysis and t-test were used to test hypotheses. Results indicated that there was no gender difference in loneliness. Also results revealed from Hierarchic Multiple Regression analyses that loneliness was predicted by fearful attachment, secure attachment, and masculinity, respectively in total samples. Additional analysis indicated that predictive power of masculinity was significant on loneliness only for men.

Key Words

Loneliness, Gender, Sex Roles, Attachment.

Loneliness is one of the most painful experiences (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980; Wei, Shaffer, Young, & Zakalik, 2005) that can be encountered in all periods of life, from adolescence to old age (Cacioppo, Hughes, Waite, Hawkley, & Thisted, 2006). Each individual can define the loneliness issue in his or her own terms, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, socio-economic status, gender or age (Rokach, 2004). However, loneliness is by nature a subjective experience, which can be evaluated according to what a person expects from his or her relationships with others and the personal satisfaction obtained from these relationships. People may perceive themselves as lonely in a crowd while they may not feel loneliness when they are alone (Qualter & Munn, 2002). Peplau and Perlman (1982) define loneliness as an unpleasant subjective psychological state when happens inconsistency difference between existing social relationships and desired social relationships. In the literature some disagreement exists in terms of whether loneliness is unidimensional or not. For example, Russell, Peplau, and Cutrona (1980) assume that loneliness is a unidimensional universal phenomenon affecting all aspects of life. On the other hand, Weiss conceptualizes that loneliness has two dimensions: Social loneliness and emotional loneliness. Also Sadler and Johnson (1980) claim that loneliness is a multidimensional construct consisted of cosmic, social, interpersonal, and emotional.

In last three decades, researches on loneliness have significantly contributed on understanding of antecedents and consequences of loneliness. In this studies, some factors such as social skills deficits (Deniz, Hamarta, & Ari, 2005; DiTommaso, Brannan-McNulty, Ross, & Burgess, 2003), negative expectations and attributions (Jones, Hobbs, & Hockenbury, 1982; Peplau, Russell, & Heim, 1979; Vitkus & Horowitz, 1987), shyness (Wei, Shaffer Young, & Zakalik, 2005), unsecure attachment (Bogaerts, Vanheule, & Desmet, 2006; DiTommaso, Brannen, & Burgers, 2005), deficiency in perception of social support (Yilmaz, Yilmaz, & Karaca, 2008) and maladaptive family structure (Demirci-Yoraz & Demir, 2009) are shown as reasons of loneliness. Depend on degree and aspect of loneliness, physiological and psychological problems such as depression (Alpass & Neville, 2003; Cacioppo et al., 2006; Weeks, Michela, Peplau, & Bragg, 1980), cardio-vascular problems (Hawkley, Burleson, Berntson, & Cacioppo, 2003), suicide attempts (Wenz, 1977), substance uses (McWhirter, 1990), poor life satisfaction (Çeçen, 2007a) could occur.

Weiss (1973) has pointed out attachment styles as one of the reasons for loneliness. According to Weiss, loneliness is separation distress when someone leaves a person to whom he or she is attached. Firstly, when the relationship between a child and mother or caregiver did not establish a feeling of confidence in early childhood, the feeling of loneliness occurs each time the person leaves an object of significant emotional importance. According to attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969, 1973), the ties between child and the mother, or the person who looks after the child, brings children their first understanding that they are not alone while discovering the world and they have someone to trust. …