The Moderating Role of Psychological Flexibility in the Relationship Between Loneliness and Well-being Among Young Adults: A Cross-sectional Study
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Loneliness is considered a universal constant; an experience one cannot easily escape from. Despite the evidence of its deleterious effects on mental and physical health across all age groups, the majority of research has primarily focused on older cohorts, leaving young adults beyond the scope of scientific attention. The current study aims to compensate for this research inequity by examining whether there is an indication that psychological flexibility protects individuals against the negative effects of loneliness on well-being. It was hypothesized that the inverse relationship between loneliness and well-being would be significantly less pronounced among young adults with high, compared to low, psychological flexibility. The design of the study was cross-sectional. For the purpose of this research, 162 participants, between 18 and 30 years of age, were recruited through social media. Data were collected online via self-reported psychological assessments of loneliness (Loneliness Scale), psychological flexibility (FIT-24) and well-being (SF-12) and were subsequently analyzed using linear regression analysis. According to the results, the two-way interaction between loneliness and psychological flexibility was not significantly associated with well-being (p = .45). The disconfirmation of the research hypothesis was attributed to the use of an unsuitable moderator and methodological shortcomings. Clinical and research implications include the documentation of the actual effects of psychological flexibility on well-being, which will be accomplished within longitudinal experimental designs, and the investigation of other moderating variables, including social engagement and emotion regulation styles. The research stands out in terms of novelty and cultural diversity, but could be improved in terms of methodology. Overall, despite the statistical insignificance that was observed, findings highlight the profound need to reduce the distress that may derive from loneliness.