Loneliness and neighbourhood characteristics: A multi-informant, nationally-representative study of young adults

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Objective: To investigate associations between the characteristics of the neighbourhoods young adults live in and their feelings of loneliness, using data from different sources.

Method: Data were drawn from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study. Loneliness was measured via self-reports at ages 12 and 18, and also by interviewer ratings at age 18. Neighbourhood characteristics were assessed between ages 12 and 18 via government data, systematic social observations, a resident survey, and participants’ self-reports.

Results: Greater loneliness was associated with perceptions of lower collective efficacy and greater neighbourhood disorder, but not with more objective measures of neighbourhood characteristics. Lonelier individuals perceived the collective efficacy of their neighbourhoods to be lower than did their less lonely siblings who lived at the same address.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that feelings of loneliness are associated with negatively-biased perceptions of neighbourhood characteristics, which may have implications for lonely individuals’ likelihood of escaping loneliness.

Keywords: loneliness, social isolation, neighbourhood, collective efficacy, social cohesion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-775
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
Early online date7 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • collective efficacy
  • loneliness
  • neighborhood
  • social cohesion
  • social isolation


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