Psychological characteristics of children with high and low levels of loneliness

Maria Oleś


The article focuses on the issue of loneliness in children. Children with high and low levels of loneliness were compared on a range of measures pertaining to personality (Cattell’s CPQ), self-esteem (Rosenberg’s SES and Coopersmith’s SEI), assertiveness (Michelson and Wood’s CABS) and clinical variables crucial from the point of view of normal interpersonal relationships: depression (Birleson’s DSRS and Kovac’s CDI) and pessimism (Kazdin’s HPLS). Additional analyses were carried out to identify the variables determining loneliness o school-age children. The study involved N = 90 children (41 girls and 49 boys) aged 11-13. The results showed that children with high loneliness are more closed, emotionally sensitive, shy, submissive and reflexive, as compared to non-lonely children. They were found to have increased emotional tension, tendency for self- -blame and low self-esteem. They also showed lowered mood and pessimistic attitude towards future. Low self-esteem, pessimism and shyness were found to be the main factors accounting for loneliness in children, although in this respect gender-specific differences were also found.

The results were discussed in terms of traits theory and social-cognitive theory. Practical implications of this study point to the need for development of intervention programmes designed for children with high loneliness. Such programmes should address action towards enhancement of self- -esteem and development of social skills.


children; loneliness; personality; self-esteem

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