Cognitive Models of Loneliness in Women in Early and Middle Adulthood

Inna M. LEONOVA, Olha B. KIZ, Nataliia A. DOBROVOLSKA, Kateryna O. CHYZHYK, Tamara V. HOVORUN

Abstract


The problem of loneliness is caused by a disunity and alienation of modern society, dissatisfaction with the basic social needs for acceptance and support. The fact that the subjective feeling of loneliness does not coincide with the real degree of social isolation determines the need to study the cognitive aspects. The aim of this study is to show the role of cognitive structures in loneliness in women. A survey of 144 women aged 26-55 years was conducted. Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale and the Differential Loneliness Experience Questionnaire, loneliness was measured as a global experience, positive and negative attitudes towards it. Cognitive models were studied using the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale, Young Schema Questionnaire, the author’s questionnaire that reveals cultural myths and gender stereotypes about loneliness. A comparative analysis of the groups showed no differences in the perception of loneliness among women with different family situations; it also does not depend on having children and their number. Age was found to be a significant determinant of perceptions of loneliness and family circumstances. Cognitive models influence women’s loneliness to a greater extent than family situation. The publication describes correlations between perceived loneliness and individual dysfunctional attitudes, and builds regression models of predictors of loneliness in different age groups. The study shows the prevalence of cultural stereotypes about the need for marriage and motherhood, and a special female vulnerability in relationships. The construct “tolerance to loneliness” is proposed and described, which reveals the positive potential of this experience for self-knowledge and self-development.


Keywords


Loneliness tolerance, gender bias, emotional deprivation, positive loneliness, gender stereotypes, dysfunctional beliefs, early maladaptive schemes

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