Keele Psychology professor shares expertise on BBC Loneliness Experiment

The BBC has announced the results of their Loneliness Experiment, a nationwide survey conducted by BBC Radio 4 in collaboration with Wellcome Collection.

Professor Ken Rotenberg, from the School of Psychology, was co-investigator on the BBC study, and commented on the results for BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind programme aired on October 9th. The survey results indicate that 16-24 year-olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.

The survey’s findings were revealed on BBC Radio 4 last week, with the ‘Anatomy of Loneliness’ breaking down the research into three programmes. Professor Rotenberg featured on episode two about his investigation into how the capacity to trust others impacts loneliness.

Professor Rotenberg said: “There is a negative correlation between trust beliefs and loneliness. Lonely people tend to hold low trust beliefs in others. This correlation holds across the life-span, and is found in both men and women. Low trust beliefs contribute to loneliness, because it causes people to feel cut-off from others and not to establish close relationships. Loneliness could be reduced by interventions that encourage lonely people to adopt trusting thoughts.”

Over 55,000 people aged 16 years and over took part in the survey exploring attitudes and personal experiences of loneliness, making it the biggest survey of its kind. The survey was developed by academics at the University of Manchester, Brunel University London and the University of Exeter, supported by a grant from Wellcome.