The role of peers and families in predicting the loneliness level of adolescents

Essay by ghostkiss June 2004

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The March edition of the Journal of Psychology describes how peer or demographic variables in birth order, number of siblings and education level, and family structure affect the loneliness level of adolescents through a survey conducted on 756 Turkish high school students. The research hypothesizes that peer, demographic, and family variables are significant predictors of adolescent loneliness. The result shows that peer relation is the most important predictor for loneliness level; and peer intimacy, peer pressure and influence are significantly correlated with loneliness among peer variables. Other research is used to support this finding; peer influence in terms of peer acceptance and rejection is also correlated with loneliness (Rotenberg &Bartley, 1997;Sletta et al., 1996), and the variables such like personal characteristics, cognitive skills, or social behaviors contribute to this phenomenon (Conger, 1991). Adolescents are more likely to be accepted by their peers when they are cheerful, humorous, willing to self-disclosure.

Those lacking these similar characteristics are likely to be neglected by peers, and they become isolated and are more likely exposed to potential loneliness. One important point about self-disclosure, which needs to be further investigated, shows that lonely individuals have tendency to over disclose or underdisclose (Solano, Batten & Parish, 1982). Lastly, lack of intimacy in peer relation is the main cause to adolescent loneliness.

Family structure is the second strong predictor for adolescent loneliness, and the communication is the only family variable correlated with loneliness. In addition, demographic variables contribute not significantly but affect indirectly to the loneliness level. For example, the research finds that sibling bond is an important predictor of loneliness (Ponzetti &James, 1997).

Even though this research finding does not surprise me with any unprecedented variable contributing to loneliness level, it makes me think about the relationship between peer and...