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Title: Exploring the Nature and Variation of the Stigma Associated with Loneliness
Authors: Barreto, M
van Breen, J
Victor, C
Hammond, C
Eccles, A
Richins, M
Qualter, P
Keywords: stigma;loneliness;loneliness stigma;age;gender;individualism;culture
Issue Date: 21-Apr-2022
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Barreto, M., van Breen, J.,Victor, C., Hammond, C., Eccles, A., Richins, M. and Qualter, P. (2022) 'Exploring the Nature and Variation of the Stigma Associated with Loneliness', Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 0 (in press), pp. 1-22 (22). doi: 10.1177/02654075221087190.
Abstract: Copyright © The Author(s) 2022. The current study uses data from The British Broadcasting Corporation Loneliness Experiment to explore the social stigma of loneliness and how it varies by gender, age and cultural individualism. We examined stigmatizing judgements of people who are lonely (impressions of those who feel lonely and attributions for loneliness), perceived stigma in the community and self-stigma (shame for being lonely and inclination to conceal loneliness), while controlling for participants’ own feelings of loneliness. The scores on most measures fell near the mid-point of the scales, but stigmatizing perceptions depended on the measure of stigmatization that was used and on age, gender and country-level individualism. Multilevel analyses revealed that men had more stigmatizing perceptions, more perceived community stigma, but less self-stigma than women; young people had higher scores than older people on all indicators except for internal versus external attributions and people living in collectivist countries perceived loneliness as more controllable and perceived more stigma in the community than people living in individualistic countries. Finally, young men living in individualistic countries made the most internal (vs. external) attributions for loneliness. We discuss the implications of these findings for understandings of loneliness stigma and interventions to address loneliness.
Description: Acknowledgements: We thank Geraldine Fitzgerald for support throughout the set-up of the project and Federica Pozzi and Gülnur Karapür for assistance with data coding. Authors’ note: This research was the result of a partnership between academics and the BBC Radio 4, resulting in four radio programmes and a large scale survey entitled ‘The BBC Loneliness Experiment’, as well as a special edition of Health Check (on BBC World Service).
Open research statement: As part of IARR’s encouragement of open research practices, the author(s) have provided the following information: This research was not pre-registered. The data used in the research are can be publicly posted. The data can be obtained at: or by emailing: The materials used in the research can be publicly posted. The materials can be obtained at: or by emailing:
ISSN: 0265-4075
Other Identifiers: ORCID iD: Manuela Barreto:; Christina Victor:
Appears in Collections:Dept of Health Sciences Research Papers

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