Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence
Dominant theoretical approaches in loneliness research emphasize the value of personality characteristics in explaining loneliness. The present study examines whether dysfunctional social strategies and attributions in lonely adolescents can be explained by personality characteristics. A questionnaire survey was conducted with 379 Danish Grade 8 students (M = 14.1 years, SD = 0.4) from 22 geographically stratified and randomly selected schools. Hierarchical linear regression analysis showed that network orientation, success expectation and avoidance in affiliative situations predicted loneliness independent of personality characteristics, demographics and social desirability. The study indicates that dysfunctional strategies and attributions in affiliative situations are directly related to loneliness in adolescence. These strategies and attributions may preclude lonely adolescents from guidance and intervention. Thus, professionals need to be knowledgeable about prototypic features of loneliness in addition to employing a pro-active approach when assisting adolescents who display prototypic features.