Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

L'échelle De Solitude Sociale et ÉMotionnelle (ÉSsé): A French-Canadian Adaptation of the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

L'échelle De Solitude Sociale et ÉMotionnelle (ÉSsé): A French-Canadian Adaptation of the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults

Article excerpt

Although there exist many psychological measures in the English language, few of these clinical and research instruments have been translated into French and subsequently validated. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate L'Échelle de Solitude Sociale et Émotionnelle (l'ÉSSÉ). L'ÉSSÉ is a French translation of the short form of the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults (SELSA-S; DiTommaso, Brannen, & Best, 2004; DiTommaso & Spinner, 1993). The SELSA is a multidimensional scale which measures the social and emotional components derived from Weiss' (1973) typology of loneliness. A total of 252 French-speaking individuals, aged between 17 and 79 years, completed the new measure. Reliability and validity assessment indicated that l'ÉSSÉ displays excellent psychometric properties.

Keywords: loneliness, SELSA, ÉSSÉ, French-Canadian.

Loneliness is a subjectively unpleasant and distressing feeling with potentially serious consequences (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). For an age-old and common occurrence (it has been estimated that one out of four people experience loneliness; Cutrona, 1982; Weiss, 1973), research on loneliness is a fairly recent phenomenon. Weiss' (1973) book Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation, was a milestone in stimulating interest and research on this topic. According to Weiss, there are two types of loneliness: emotional loneliness, produced by the absence or loss of an intimate attachment figure (e.g., spouse, lover, parent, child); and social loneliness, created by the absence of an engaging social network (e.g., friends, coworkers, peers). Furthermore, he suggested that the experience of loneliness is a natural response to a lack of certain significant relationships.

Despite Oshagan and Alien's view (1992) that "generally, no single conceptualization of what constitutes loneliness is shared by scholars in the area" (p. 382), three major theories have been proposed: first, the needs for intimacy approach stipulates that "proximity-promoting mechanisms may have survival value" (Peplau & Perlman, 1982, p. 5). Weiss referred to Bowlby's (1973) work on attachment which proposed the tendency for human beings to make strong affectional bonds. If those needs are not met in childhood, loneliness can later ensue. The second theory, cognitive processes, suggests that it is people's evaluation and perception of dissatisfaction with their relationships that make them vulnerable to loneliness (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). Finally, Young's (1982) behavioral-cognitive theory claims that insufficient social interaction which serves as social reinforcement is the major deficiency experienced by lonely people. The level of loneliness one experiences is dependent on the history of reinforcement to which one is accustomed.

Regardless of how loneliness is conceptualized, or what its cause may be, it can affect many of us at some point in our lives. For some, it is a constant pan of daily life which can last over a period of years, and has been associated with lower reported life satisfaction (e.g., Goodwin, Cook, & Yung, 2001; Gray, Ventis, & Hayslip, 1992; Kirn, 1997; Neto, 1995). Loneliness has also been closely associated with alcoholism, suicide, and physical illness (see Ernst & Cacioppo, 1999 for a review). Moreover, whether it be as a precursor or outcome, loneliness has been strongly associated with mood disorders, such as depression, and anxiety (e.g., DiTommaso & Spinner, 1997).


Although loneliness is related to depression, Weiss (1973) has explained the difference between these two constructs. According to Weiss, the lonely person has a drive to establish new or old relationships in order to free himself/herself of the aversive state, while the depressed person surrenders to the distressed state and often lacks the drive to reinstate old or new relationships. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by sadness, decreased motivation, negative thoughts and physical symptoms such as fatigue and change in appetite (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). …

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