King's College London

Research portal

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Early online date13 Oct 2020
Accepted/In press11 Jun 2020
E-pub ahead of print13 Oct 2020


  • Matthews_LonelinessVictimisation_10Jun20

    Matthews_LonelinessVictimisation_10Jun20.docx, 119 KB, application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

    Uploaded date:17 Jun 2020

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    Licence:CC BY

King's Authors


The present study used a longitudinal and discordant twin design to explore in depth the developmental associations between victimization 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 victimization were considered, differing across context, perpetrator, and timing of exposure. The results indicated that exposure to different forms of victimization was associated with loneliness in a dose-response manner. In childhood, bullying victimization was uniquely associated with loneliness, over and above concurrent psychopathology, social isolation, and genetic risk. Moreover, childhood bullying victimization continued to predict loneliness in young adulthood, even in the absence of ongoing victimization. Within-twin pair analyses further indicated that this longitudinal association was explained by genetic confounds. In adolescence, varied forms of victimization were correlated with young adult loneliness, with maltreatment, neglect, and cybervictimization remaining robust to controls for genetic confounds. These findings indicate that vulnerability to loneliness in victimized young people varies according to the specific form of victimization in question, and also to the developmental period in which it was experienced.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454