Loneliness and the social monitoring system: Emotion recognition and eye gaze in a real-life conversation.

Gerine M.A. Lodder, Ron H. J. Scholte, Luc Goossens, Rutger C.M.E. Engels, Maaike Verhagen

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Based on the belongingness regulation theory (Gardner et al., 2005, Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull., 31, 1549), this study focuses on the relationship between loneliness and social monitoring. Specifically, we examined whether loneliness relates to performance on three emotion recognition tasks and whether lonely individuals show increased gazing towards their conversation partner's faces in a real-life conversation. Study 1 examined 170 college students (Mage = 19.26; SD = 1.21) who completed an emotion recognition task with dynamic stimuli (morph task) and a micro(-emotion) expression recognition task. Study 2 examined 130 college students (Mage = 19.33; SD = 2.00) who completed the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test and who had a conversation with an unfamiliar peer while their gaze direction was videotaped. In both studies, loneliness was measured using the UCLA Loneliness Scale version 3 (Russell, 1996, J. Pers. Assess., 66, 20). The results showed that loneliness was unrelated to emotion recognition on all emotion recognition tasks, but that it was related to increased gaze towards their conversation partner's faces. Implications for the belongingness regulation system of lonely individuals are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-153
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date9-Apr-2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2016
Externally publishedYes

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