Image by Mario Aguirre (a.k.a. Rantes) via FlickrWhy do behavioral scientists believe that loneliness is catching?
What this drives home is that loneliness can be surprisingly unrelated to one’s actual social situation. The psychological definition of loneliness is “perceived social isolation.” As Cacioppo emphasizes, this means that loneliness and solitude are not the same thing. “Loneliness isn’t being alone, it’s feeling alone,” he says. A person surrounded by others can be lonely if he doesn’t feel like he has a meaningful connection with any of them.