On the outside looking in: Loneliness and social monitoring

Wendi L Gardner, Cynthia L. Pickett, Valerie Jefferis, Megan Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


The skill-deficit view of loneliness posits that unskilled social interactions block lonely individuals from social inclusion. The current studies examine loneliness in relation to social attention and perception processes thought to be important for socially skilled behavior. Two studies investigate the association between social monitoring (attention to social information and cues) and self-reported loneliness and number of close social ties. In Study 1, higher levels of loneliness are related to increased rather than decreased incidental social memory. In Study 2, individuals with fewer reported friends show heightened decoding of social cues in faces and voices. Results of these studies suggest that the attentional and perceptual building blocks of socially skilled behavior remain intact, and perhaps enhanced, in lonely individuals. Implications for recent models of belonging regulation and theories of loneliness are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1549-1560
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005


  • Loneliness
  • Memory
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Social acceptance
  • Social skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'On the outside looking in: Loneliness and social monitoring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this