Loneliness across cultures with different levels of social embeddedness: A qualitative study

Luzia C. Heu*, Nina Hansen, Martijn van Zomeren, Aharon Levy, Tsvetina T. Ivanova, Aiswarya Gangadhar, Mahmoud Radwan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Valid theorizing and quantitative comparisons of loneliness across cultures require cross-culturally similar meanings of loneliness. However, we know little about whether this is the case: Influential conceptualizations of loneliness mostly come from North America or Europe, where individuals tend to have relatively few stable social relationships and social interactions (i.e., less socially embedded cultures). We thus compare selected conceptualizations of loneliness from the literature to loneliness experiences that are reported in 42 semi-structured interviews from countries with different levels of social embeddedness (Austria, Bulgaria, Israel, Egypt, India). Encouragingly, our thematic analysis does not suggest fundamental qualitative differences in loneliness definitions, perceived causes, or remedies. Nevertheless, we noticed and discuss aspects that may not be sufficiently considered in previous literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-405
Number of pages27
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number2
Early online date2-Feb-2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2021


  • culture
  • in&#8208
  • depth interviews
  • interventions
  • loneliness
  • social embeddedness

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