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.
- depth interviews
- social embeddedness