Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Why Do We Feel Lonely?

Researchers think our adverse reactions to being lonely are nature's way of motivating us to find a social group in order to survive.

Why Do We Feel Lonely?

Why do we feel lonely? When asked, people usually shrug and say, “Because we're social creatures.” Well, OK, but what causes loneliness to make us feel depressed to the point where we become sick? Loneliness brings on some serious, life-threatening symptoms. One study has even found links to social isolation causing increased risks to cardiovascular health. Turns out these bodily reactions may be nature's way of motivating us to find a social group.


Taryn Hillin from Fusion writes on a recent study that seeks to explain the origins of these physiological and psychological reactions we experience when we become lonely. The findings, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, point to evolution:

“... loneliness is viewed as an aversive signal that indicates that important social connections are at risk or absent and acts as a motivating force to reconnect with others. As such, loneliness has played an important role in the evolution of the human species, given that reconnecting with others increases one’s chances of survival and opportunities to pass on one’s genes to the next generation.”

The researchers support their findings with genetic data taken from several studies involving twins, relatives, and adopted children to see if the trait was, indeed, a part of our genetic makeup. They found that loneliness can be passed down from parent to child with an inheritance rate of just below 50 percent, which the researchers considered “significant.”

Loneliness isn't all nature; nurture plays a role as well. These genes also have an environmental component that influences their development — much in the same way scientists found feral children had difficulties learning a language after being isolated for so long. The researchers wrote that people who “experience a low level of social support clearly feel more lonely than do carriers of that same allele who experience a high level of social support.”

As a result, some of us have a higher tolerance for being lonely, which influences the way our bodies react to social inaction. But the ability to feel loneliness is in most of us, and it's meant to drive us to seek human interaction in order to survive.

Read more about the origins of loneliness at Fusion.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Learn to trade stocks like a pro for under $30

Get 11 hours of proven techniques on candlestick, day trading, and investment.

Gear
  • Becoming a successful trader involves learning the psychology tricks of the trade.
  • Risk management and a winning mindset can help you maximize profits in the market.
  • Simple technical and fundamental analysis strategies can help you consistently profit.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists haven’t found any major differences between women’s and men’s brains

Are there innate differences between female and male brains?

Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Surprising Science

People have searched for sex differences in human brains since at least the 19th century, when scientist Samuel George Morton poured seeds and lead shot into human skulls to measure their volumes.

Keep reading Show less
Gear

Break down the secrets to a lucrative project management career

This course collection can get you trained and ready for a six-figure career in this field.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast