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A longitudinal twin study of victimisation and loneliness from childhood to young adulthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Jun 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

The present study used a longitudinal and discordant twin design to explore in depth the developmental associations between victimisation and loneliness from mid-childhood to young adulthood. The data were drawn from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a birth cohort of 2,232 individuals born in England and Wales during 1994-1995. Diverse forms of victimisation were considered, differing across context, perpetrator and timing of exposure. The results indicated that exposure to different forms of victimisation was associated with loneliness in a dose-response manner. In childhood, bullying victimisation was uniquely associated with loneliness, over and above concurrent psychopathology, social isolation and genetic risk. Moreover, childhood bullying victimisation continued to predict loneliness in young adulthood, even in the absence of ongoing victimisation. Within-twin pair analyses further indicated that this longitudinal association was explained by genetic confounds. In adolescence, varied forms of victimisation were correlated with young adult loneliness, with maltreatment, neglect and cybervictimisation remaining robust to controls for genetic confounds. These findings indicate that vulnerability to loneliness in victimised young people varies according to the specific form of victimisation in question, and also to the developmental period in which it was experienced.

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