Researchers from the Universities of Bonn, Haifa (Israel), and Oldenburg have discovered the relation between loneliness and reduced trust.
Bonn: Researchers from the Universities of Bonn, Haifa (Israel), and Oldenburg have discovered the relation between loneliness and reduced trust.
Behind loneliness is the perceived discrepancy of the need for social relationships not being met to the desired degree. As with hunger that wants to be satisfied, feelings of loneliness can also provide the motivation to connect with other people.
However, some people are affected by persistent loneliness. Such cases can increase the risk of developing a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorders.
This is reflected in changes in the activity and interaction of various brain structures, especially the insular cortex. The results of the study were published in the journal 'Advanced Science'. The results provide clues for therapeutic options.
"One reason for this keenly felt loneliness may be a lack of trust in fellow human beings," said Dr Dirk Scheele from the Research Section of Medical Psychology at Bonn University Hospital, referring to initial study evidence.
Together with Professor Dr Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory from the University of Haifa (Israel) and Professor Dr Rene Hurlemann from the University of Oldenburg, Dr Scheele's team, therefore, investigated the relationship between trust and loneliness in more detail.
Using an online questionnaire, the researchers selected 42 people from 3678 adults who were affected by severe loneliness but did not suffer from a mental illness or were receiving psychotherapy. The control group consisted of 40 people who did not suffer from persistent loneliness.
"It was important to us that our findings could be attributed to the loneliness experienced and that any influence of mental illness could be ruled out as far as possible," explained lead author Jana Lieberz from Scheele's team.
In the brain scanner: How great is the willingness to share? Participants first completed tasks in the brain scanner. Among other things, they played a trust game.
Here they were given ten euros in start-up capital. Based on portrait photos displayed on a screen, they were asked to decide how much of the money they were willing to share with each of the people shown.They knew that making a profit beyond their start-up capital was only possible if they shared their start-up capital with others.
At the same time, however, they had to trust that their gambling partners would not keep the money they had staked for themselves.
"Participants with pronounced feelings of loneliness shared less with others than the control group. We interpret that as a lower level of trust," Scheele explained.
The researchers also found processing deviations in brain areas involved in trust formation compared to the control group.