Category: Transdiagnostic

PS6- #A13 - Loneliness and Stress: An Examination of Negative Social Evaluation and Dispositional Mindfulness

Friday, Nov 17
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Mindfulness | Anxiety | Depression

Loneliness is associated with a variety of detrimental psychological and physiological outcomes. However, the mechanisms of the effects of loneliness on these psychological (e.g., distress) and biological measures of stress (e.g., stress hormones such as cortisol) are less understood, as are specific protective traits that might buffer against negative effects of loneliness. The purpose of this study was to examine in college students (N = 93) the mediating role of negative social evaluation (NSE) in these pathways, as well as the protective effects of dispositional mindfulness. In this prospective experience-sampling study, participants completed a baseline assessment of loneliness and trait mindfulness, repeated brief assessments of NSE and distress over five weeks, and a final lab visit to collect a hair cortisol sample. We expected that there would be an indirect effect such that loneliness impacts psychological and physiological stress through NSE. Additionally, we anticipated that this indirect effect would be moderated by trait mindfulness. Specifically, we expected that the indirect effect of loneliness on distress and cortisol would be weakened for individuals with high levels of trait mindfulness. As predicted, results indicated a conditional indirect effect of loneliness on psychological stress, such that at low levels of mindfulness, the relationship between loneliness and psychological stress was negative (95% CI[.039, .322]). Conversely, at moderate and high levels of mindfulness, the relationship between loneliness and psychological stress was not significant (95% CI [-.016, .171] and [-.092, .117], respectively). In the preliminary batch of hair samples (N = 40), loneliness did not predict cortisol; however, assays are ongoing. These findings advance our understanding of how loneliness may have deleterious downstream effects on psychological and biological aspects of stress, and also suggest the possibility that trait mindfulness may buffer against these processes.

Hannah E. Reas

Doctoral Student
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle, Washington

Christina Quach

Student
Seattle Pacific University

Erin Verdi

Student
Seattle Pacific University

Thane M. Erickson

Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle, Washington