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Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection
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Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  958 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
John T. Cacioppo’s groundbreaking research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure, and analyzing immune function, he demonstrates the overpowering influence of social context—a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrec ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2008)
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Morgan Blackledge
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure. I never feel lonely. I love being alone. I'm alone right now. It rules. As a serious self realizer/homebody/introvert my dander goes up when psychologists (or anyone else) challenge my need for quality alone time. I don't give a fuck what anyone says. I need it. I suffer tremendously when I don't have it. Fuck all y'all.

That being said, I found this book to be very helpful and informative. One of the best, most eye opening books on human motivation and well being I have read in
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Full Disclosure: I am an introvert. Full fledged introvert. I have a general disdain for the part of the ego that desires acceptance from other people. I feel a need to rebel and quiet that part of the self. And like most introverts, I do not equate being alone with loneliness. I also have what Ainsworth calls a non-attached attachment type.

I do however do not wish to succumb to the extreme of my personality type. I wanted to make sure I was not being obstinately clinging to my introverted incl
Simon Cleveland, PhD
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology, science
I just concluded reading this book. Bottom line: human beings are designed to seek meaningful (keyword here is meaningful) relationships. It's no wonder that studies of regular church-goers show they live longer than their counterparts- the more they are united by a common idea and maintain a healthy relationship between each other in a meaningful manner, the more their physiologies are encapsulated from stresses and wear and tear of loneliness. I recommend this book.

Also, interesting to note fr
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This book was somehow not what I was expecting but also exactly what I was expecting. I suppose it encompassed what I was expecting with what felt like two or three other books tossed on.

While it talked about loneliness (quite a lot), it also went through evolutionary psychology, primate behavior, gentrification, online social behaviors, genetics, 5x more studies than I anticipated, isolated human tribal behavior, parenting attachment styles, religion, wealth inequality...YOU NAME IT. I fell as
This is the first book I've read in a long time that has pretty radically rearranged the way I think about a lot of things.

I came across it while reading through all the U.S. Psychology department labs; it's written by head of the dept at U. Chicago. It's awesome to read a (readable) cognitive book actually written by one of the lead researchers, instead of just technical papers or pop books by someone else, or even pop books by researchers on topics they're not involved in directly. I appreciat
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: health, relationships
Even if you don't think of yourself as lonely, you may still find this engagingly written, scientific book to be of interest. This book is not so much about the painful emotion of loneliness. It's really about sufficient and insufficient meaningful social connection.

We each have different forms and degrees of social needs. But virtually all of us have those social needs built deeply into our bodies, as we evolved a long time ago as social animals, dependent on cooperation for our survival. When
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book.

Summary of the cover:

I wish the authors had given a little more prominence to the subtitle, "Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection" - which sounds enough like an exposition on psychology that it could be used to impress others with your intellectual voracity - but no...instead, the main title of "Loneliness" pretty much ruled out reading this book in public, since that sounds a lot more like a self-help book / desperate-cry-for-attention than I was really comfortabl
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sciences-etc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Freesiab (Bookish Review)
3.5. While parts of this book were fascinating other parts just languished. Even though studies and statistics were used to quantify the effects of loneliness on an individual I still felt that the perimeters used still included stress, which are well known to cause similar outcomes. Is it possible to study loneliness without stress. I’m not sure after reading this book but many of the hypothesis were very interesting and I personally felt that they rang true in my own life.
I read/skimmed this for my thesis paper.

This had some great data on loneliness and what various studies have concluded. It is riddled with Darwinist thinking, but that is to be expected. It shows that relationships are necessary for our own health. The conclusion? We are made for social relationships and so we need to pursue them (and not just for what I can get, but also for what I can give). The final chapter contains a fascinating look at how church communities provide the exact dynamic that
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. This book started out interestingly, exploring the human brain and how it processes loneliness. Then it got into social connection in general, how much different people need on various levels. I kept waiting for the "how to stop feeling lonely" section, but it never came.

Then I went on vacation, leaving this book behind. When I returned, he was talking about bonobos and chimps, and it all fell apart. It had crumbs of jumbled disparate advice, mostly super-simplistic for reaching o
ياسمين خليفة
When I read the title of the book I thought it is about why people feel lonely and how to cure loneliness . It turns out that the book talks about why social connection is important using experiments and make comparisons between humans and Chimps .Although I felt depressed while reading the booking, I learnt from it how loneliness affect people's behavior(it makes them more hostile and defensive ). there are few tips on how to be less lonely but I wish the author could explain why someone feel l ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Secretly, a self-help book hidden among neuroscience prose and monkey-experiment narrative.
Ben Zimmerman
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this book for our neuroscience bookclub, and I was initially very excited because John Cacioppo was a bit of a legend in the field of psychophysiology. I thought the book was quite weak actually, and I think that this boils down to two main reasons.

The first reason is just because of where the research is. There is, apparently, a lot of research about how bad loneliness ends up being for one's health, and how loneliness produces a sort of negative feedback loop. Most of the good scientif
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
After reading the author's obituary...he died recently, at the way-too-early-age of 66...I decided to read this book. Which, honestly, is pretty dang goth.

"I'm reading a book about loneliness." -Sigh.- "I heard about it because the author died." -Sigh.-

Honestly, though, this was a remarkably helpful book. It explores the psychological and physiological impacts of sustained human isolation, a condition that defines the lives of more and more human beings in our atomized, individualistic culture.
Julie lit pour les autres
Un document d'une grande pertinence pour qui s'intéresse aux sciences cognitives et sociales mais aussi aux rapports étroits et évolutifs entre la biologie de notre cerveau et les interactions que nous avons avec notre environnement.

On apprend ici ce que la recherche sait de la solitude humaine : Cacioppo survole les champs de recherche et tisse des liens entre l'évolution, la biologie de notre cerveau (l'importance des neurones dits miroirs dans l'empathie, les signaux sociaux, les hormones), e
Warren Benton
This is a thorough research into loneliness.  As they point out that not everyone that is alone suffers from loneliness.  Some people have a smaller threshold for what they consider loneliness.

From apes to humans to many other social animals this book covers what loneliness can do.  When you suffer loneliness long term it can affect your brain.  You will have slower cognitive recognition.  They discuss the many studies they pulled on people to see what being lonely can really do. Study after stu
Colin Fyfe
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Caioppo does a good job on explaining loneliness from different paradigms- cultural, evolutionary, physiological, economical, ect-. He makes the topic innovative and compelling towards an audience that has little knowledge prior. Some of his insights are more structured and flow better than others, captivating the reader with prose such as " why have i never thought of it like this before". It book is not a pop- psychology book, which i enjoyed for.
Though the book is a bit dry at places, and la
I found this book because the author was quoted in the April 2018 Psychology Today cover story. I really enjoyed the writing style, and the first 100 pages or so of this book. After that I found myself noticing that I felt like I was reading the same information over and over again. I think the topic is valuable and the authors had a great concept but it wasn't enough to keep me reading until the end. I flipped ahead to see if something new was coming, and lo, it all looked the same.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating exploration of the impact of loneliness on society and individuals. It is an academic book and there is a fair bit of biology / neuroscience. Having said that you don't need to be a scientist to understand the ideas discussed - I am not. It is written in an engaging style and is very readable.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book focuses on the research on loneliness. It's not really a practical guide to solving for it and I found the content too dry.
Sergei Moska
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
In a nutshell, Cacioppo argues that (1)loneliness is an experience that comes about from our lacking meaningful social connections, and that (2)while we may understand loneliness in cognitive terms, it is actually the result of an interplay between cognitive functions and lower-order impulses emanating from our "primate" (limbic) brain. Cacioppo argues from the perspective of evolutionary biology, and central to his thesis is that the need for meaningful social connection is intimately tied to a ...more
Johnny Wilson
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony Go
There he went. Number 1215. Number 1215, the new tenant in the apartment across from hers. Jenevie walked a lot slower to the elevator, laundry basket in hand, to avoid being in the same elevator as number 1215. She might have found 1215 incredibly attractive, but she lacked the proper attire (it was laundry day!) not to mention self-esteem to share the confines of an elevator with him for fifteen floors. It's not that Jenevie wasn't pretty, on the contrary, Jenevie had benefited well from her u ...more
Gregg Sapp
Jul 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Of the varied behavioral maladies currently in vogue – from OCD to bipolarity to chronic fatigue, and others – mere loneliness often gets short shrift. Even in an age when science is pleased to attribute genetic causes to almost every mood disorder, loneliness is still generally seen as an option, or a byproduct of other issues. Further, to the degree that it is seen as a choice, those who suffer from loneliness are regarded as in control of their own condition. They wouldn’t be lonely unless th ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
A book that mainly deals with the scientific underpinnings of the emotion of loneliness, as derived from psychological and neuroscientific research. Four stars because of the interesting subject matter and the fact that reading this book may actually make me a 'better' person, something that I had no intention of happening when I started reading it.

I can do without the vignettes and stories that are sprinkled throughout. They serve as illustrations of various concepts, and are a mixture of comp
Elena (For Books that Matter)
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Gone Bookserk Perspective

I bought this book years ago. I stumbled on it coincidentally at a really low time in my life, and years later every once in a while I'd go back to it to understand some things better. There's something really genuine and true about this book.

The book speaks about a very specific group of individuals who continuously and chronically feel out of place with the world they live in. As a result, a state of loneliness incurs.

"Which contributes more to personality, nature o
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a good book to understand what loneliness is. It also does a great job of explaining how anxiety and depression can lead to feeling lonely. If you are looking for a "manual" on how to treat any of your symptoms then this is not the correct book for you. It can help you better understand your mental situation and help start a change in your thought process. It is a good basic book to read if you are interested in cognitive behavioral therapy. This is not an entertaining read but more of a ...more
Feb 16, 2010 rated it liked it
The main thesis of this book is that loneliness is a feeling like hunger and pain – evolved to warn us that something is wrong with us. It’s not just some abstract, wistful feeling. It’s trying to tell us that something is not right and we need to pay attention to it and correct it. As a species, we evolved to need companionship physically. The degree to which we need social connection is largely genetic and varies from person to person, but regardless of the level of the need, if we go below ou ...more
I'm on my summer holiday and taking care of 5 cats in a beautiful spot with many trees, a large pond, a family of eight Canada geese--mother, father, and six goslings--and a beautiful Blue Heron who is fascinating to watch. It amazes me it can fly with those long, long legs.

I have brought many books with me to read on my holiday. I sit out on the deck overlooking the pond, with cats lolling everywhere, and read and watch birds.

The first book I read was Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for S
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John T. Cacioppo was the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, and Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago.
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“Real relief from loneliness requires the cooperation of at least one other person, and yet the more chronic our loneliness becomes, the less equipped we may be to entice such cooperation.” 9 likes
“When we are lonely we not only react more intensely to the negatives; we also experience less of a soothing uplift from the positives.” 8 likes
More quotes…