Daily Social Interactions and Momentary Loneliness:The Role ofTrait Loneliness and Neuroticism

Ruixue Zhaoyang, Karra D. Harrington, Stacey B. Scott, Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland, Martin J. Sliwinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: Loneliness has been linked to poor mental and physical health outcomes in later life. Little is known about how daily social interactions relate to older adults’ everyday experiences of loneliness. This study examined the dynamic associations between social interactions and the momentary feelings of loneliness in older adults’ daily lives. We further examined whether individual differences in trait loneliness and neuroticism influenced the extent to which daily social interactions were related to moment-to-moment changes in loneliness. Method: Participants were 317 community-dwelling older adults (aged 70–90 years) who reported their social interactions and momentary feelings of loneliness 5 times daily for 14 consecutive days using smartphones. Results: Having more frequent, more pleasant, and in-person social interactions, as well as interactions with family and friends specifically, significantly predicted lower momentary loneliness a few hours later. Higher levels of momentary loneliness, in turn, predicted less likelihood of engaging in these types of social interactions subsequently. In addition, older adults with higher (vs lower) traits of loneliness and neuroticism experienced greater decreases in momentary feelings of loneliness after having more frequent or pleasant social interactions, or interactions with family members. Discussion: These results expand our understanding of the dynamic associations between daily social interactions and loneliness in later life and provide insights to inform future research, including the possibility of behavioral interventions that target social interactions to reduce the risk for loneliness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1791-1802
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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