The relative contribution of marital status, social and emotional loneliness, preference for solitude, and emotional dampening to wellbeing in late life
Basten, E.N. van
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This study examined the unique and combined ability of marital status, social and emotional loneliness, preference for solitude, and emotional dampening to predict wellbeing in late life. Regression analyses were conducted using a Dutch sample of adults aged 70 and older (N = 170). Findings indicated that emotional loneliness was the best predictor of both life satisfaction and depressive symptomatology. Other proposed predictors (i.e. marital status, social loneliness, preference for solitude, and negative emotional dampening) did not predict life satisfaction nor depressive symptomatology. However, marital status did show an indirect effect on life satisfaction and depressive symptoms through emotional loneliness, full mediation was achieved. These findings lend further credence to the relevance of Bowlby's attachment theory and Weiss' relational theory of loneliness. Although this study had several limitations, these findings implicate that clinical interventions and eldercare should focus on alleviating emotional loneliness in order to be effective in improving wellbeing in late life.