BBC Radio 4 has announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment, a nationwide survey conducted by BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind in collaboration with Wellcome Collection. It is the largest survey into the issue of loneliness to date.
The survey results indicate that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.
Over 55,000 people aged 16 years and over took part in the survey exploring attitudes and personal experiences of loneliness, making it the biggest survey of its kind. The survey was developed by academics at the University of Manchester, Brunel University London, and the University of Exeter, and supported by a grant from Wellcome.
Of the findings, Claudia Hammond, presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind says: “The topic of loneliness is now receiving a great deal of attention and political prominence as demonstrated by its inclusion in Tracey Crouch’s ministerial portfolio and the recommendations from The Jo Cox Loneliness Commission. We were staggered by the huge numbers of people taking part in our survey. This research shows we need to take loneliness seriously in all age groups. We know that most loneliness is temporary, but we need to find ways to prevent it from becoming chronic.”
Pamela Qualter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester, who led the study, says: “The response to the BBC Loneliness Experiment has been significant. People have provided valuable insights into when and how loneliness is experienced, how it relates to age, being alone, caring responsibilities, employability, and discrimination. For me, the most interesting findings relate to the stigma of loneliness and the varied solutions people had to overcome loneliness. Those findings suggest that we need to be kinder to ourselves when we feel disconnected from others, but also that there is a whole toolkit of potential solutions that we can try.”