Perceptions by and of lonely people in social networks

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Although past research has associated loneliness with negative perceptions of others, P. Christensen and D. A. Kashy (1998), using the social relations model (SRM), found that among new acquaintances, loneliness was associated with more positive other-perceptions. SRM was used to examine loneliness and interpersonal perception within existing social networks. Seventy-three university students in the United States rated themselves and others on 19 attributes and also judged how they thought others saw them (meta-perceptions). Results indicated that lonely people tended to be more negative toward closer targets and somewhat positive toward less close acquaintances. Lonely people had lower self-regard and perceived self-regard, invariant across acquaintanceship, and were rated more negatively by others. Relationship contexts thus moderate effects of loneliness on other-perceptions.

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