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J Adolesc. 2013 Dec;36(6):1261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 15.

Understanding loneliness during adolescence: developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation.

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Department of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA.


Loneliness is typically defined in terms of feeling states. In this review, we take a somewhat different approach, describing loneliness in terms of perceived social isolation. Vulnerabilities to perceived social isolation differ across the lifespan. Unique properties of adolescence are identified that carry special risk for perceived social isolation. These include (but are not limited to) developmental changes in companions, developmental changes in autonomy and individuation, identity exploration, cognitive maturation, developmental changes in social perspective taking, and physical maturation. Scholars are encouraged to consider loneliness through the lens of perceived social isolation so as to better understand how the experience of physical isolation varies across adolescence.


Depression; Loneliness; Risk factors to loneliness; Sleep dysfunction; Social isolation; Socio-emotional adjustment

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