Aberdeen study looks for answers to loneliness

Researchers hope different ways older and young people interact could help tackle isolation

Friday 26th April 2019

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen hope to find answers to loneliness by looking at how friends of different generations interact with each other.  

It’s hoped a better understanding of how younger and older friends communicate could help tackle loneliness among both demographics – a problem some claim could be as costly as smoking or obesity.

Professor Louise Philips of Aberdeen University’s psychology school says: “We already know that there are age differences in the way that we communicate with each other in terms of facial expressions and how we speak. 

“In this study, we are interested in whether these differences are influenced by the aging process, so do we change our communication style as our hearing changes? Or instead age differences might reflect cultural changes, for example – do baby boomers have different rules of etiquette than millennials?”

The research will also look at differences in how older and younger people communicate with strangers compared to their friends, to identify what kind of relationships are important to emotional well-being.

“Another important topic we are looking at is age differences in close and peripheral relationships. We know that it is important for people to have close friends, but also having a wider social network of acquaintances helps our emotional well-being too,” Professor Phillips adds.

“We are interested in whether ageing affects these types of relationships or how they impact on us.”