“Compassion seems to reduce the level of loneliness at all ages, probably by enabling individuals to accurately perceive and interpret others' emotions along with helpful behavior toward others, and thereby increasing their own social self-efficacy and social networks,” Jeste said.
The struggle for companionship reflected highly on people in their 20s as people also grappled with their career paths.
“A lot of people in this decade are also constantly comparing themselves on social media and are concerned about how many likes and followers they have,” said Tanya Nguyen, Ph.D., first author of the study and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The lower level of self-efficacy may lead to greater loneliness.”
The 40s brings other issues as life changes occur with children leaving home and health concerns arising for individuals and the people around them.
“Individuals may start to lose loved ones close to them and their children are growing up and are becoming more independent," Nguyen said. "This greatly impacts self-purpose and may cause a shift in self-identify, resulting in increased loneliness.”
Noting that the findings are especially relevant during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has led to social distancing as one of the methods of helping to slow the spread of the novel virus, Ngyun said “we want to understand what strategies may be effective in reducing loneliness during this challenging time.”