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Exploring the Relationship Between Loneliness and Social Cognition in Older Age

De Lillo, Martina, Martin, Andrew K., Ferguson, Heather J. (2023) Exploring the Relationship Between Loneliness and Social Cognition in Older Age. Social Psychology, 54 (1-2). pp. 16-26. ISSN 1864-9335. E-ISSN 2151-2590. (doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000482) (KAR id:93738)


Understanding others is a key component of successful social interactions, and declines in social abilities during later life can lead to social isolation and loneliness. We investigated the relationship between different sub-components of social cognition and loneliness in a large sample of older adults. We tested perspective-taking and mentalizing skills, alongside self-reported loneliness and social functioning. Results revealed that both loneliness and age correlated significantly with older adults’ ability to resist egocentric interference when taking others’ perspectives. However, mediation models showed that the effect of loneliness on egocentric tendencies was eliminated when age was accounted for. Therefore, loneliness relates to egocentrism only because egocentric tendencies increase with age, and people experience increasing levels of loneliness and feelings of social isolation with increasing age. Mentalizing and interference from others’ perspectives were not influenced by loneliness or age.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000482
Projects: CogSoCoAGE
Uncontrolled keywords: General Psychology, Sociology and Political Science, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Social Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: European Research Council (
Depositing User: Heather Ferguson
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2022 11:07 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2023 15:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Martin, Andrew K.:
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