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            孤獨真相—五個讓人吃驚的結果
            The surprising truth about loneliness

            [2018年10月21日] 來源:BBC雙語閱讀 作者:克勞迪婭o哈蒙德(Claudia Hammond)   字號 [] [] []  

            1. Younger people feel lonelier than older people


            The findings in this article are based on an online survey of 55,000 people from around the world, called the BBC Loneliness Experiment. It was created by academics at three British universities in collaboration with Wellcome Collection.


            When you picture someone who’s lonely, the stereotype is often an older person who lives alone and hardly sees anyone. Indeed, in the BBC Loneliness Experiment, 27% of over 75s said they often or very often feel lonely. This is higher than in some surveys, but because the survey was online we had a self-selecting sample and might have attracted more people who feel lonely.


            Yet the differences between age groups are striking. Levels of loneliness were actually highest among 16-24 year olds, with 40% saying they often or very often feel lonely.


            This begs the question of why so many young people say they feel lonely. Perhaps they are more prepared to admit to feelings of loneliness than older people who might feel they need to stress their independence. But it was noticeable that when everyone was asked at which point in their life they’d felt lonely, even retrospectively the most common answer people gave was when they were young adults.


            So it’s not necessarily modern life that’s making young people feel lonelier, but factors associated with being young itself. Although we might think of the ages of 16-24 as a time of new freedom to have fun, leaving school and having more control over your life, it’s also a time of transition – moving away from home, starting college, starting a new job – all of which take you away from the friends you’ve grown up with. At the same time people are trying to work out who they are and where they fit into the world.


            In addition to this, people aren’t accustomed to these feelings of loneliness and haven’t yet had the experience to know that they often pass, or to the chance to find ways to cope with those feelings, such as distracting themselves or looking for company.  


            2. 41% of people think loneliness can be positive

            This finding fits in with the ideas of people such as the late neuroscientist John Cacioppo, who believed that we evolved to experience loneliness because it can be useful, even though it’s so unpleasant. Humans have survived through forming co-operative groups. If people feel they are excluded from a group then feelings of loneliness might drive them to connect with people, finding new friends or rekindling old relationships.


            The problem is that it can become chronic, with a serious impact on well-being and maybe even on health.


            Feelings of chronic loneliness are associated with an increased risk of depression a year later. It was striking that in the survey, although 41% of all the participants said loneliness could be positive, this rate dropped to 31% in those who told us they often feel lonely. Loneliness can be so miserable and distressing, that when it’s long-lasting it can be hard to see any positive side.   


            3. People who feel lonely have social skills that are no better or worse than average


            Sometimes it’s assumed that people feel lonely because they’ve found it hard to make friends and help with improving social skills would make a difference. This isn’t what we found. A key element of social interaction is the ability to tell what other people are feeling, so that you can adjust your responses accordingly. Perhaps they’re worried about something or you’ve accidentally offended them.


            One way of measuring this skill is to give people a series of full faces or even just pairs of eyes to assess how good they are at working out which emotion people are experiencing. There was no difference between the average scores of the people who often felt lonely and the people who didn’t.  There were differences in scores on neuroticism, so perhaps it’s the anxiety provoked by social situations that can make them harder to cope with if you feel lonely, rather than social skills.


            4. Winter is no lonelier than any other time of year


            In the run-up to Christmas, you often see campaigns from charities who help the elderly featuring picture of isolated old people. It’s a day of the year that’s all about gathering with your loved ones to celebrate, so the idea of facing the day alone is something a lot of people would dread. British comedian Sarah Millican runs a very successful #joinin campaign on Twitter on Christmas Day so that people who feel lonely can chat to each other. And if you live in the northern hemisphere then Christmas also falls in the middle of winter when days are shortest and people stay in more, leaving you even more isolated if you feel lonely.

            But we found that for many who feel lonely, winter is no worse than any other time of year. We asked people to tell us the time of year and the time of day when they felt loneliest. More than two thirds of people said winter was no lonelier than any other time of year. The minority of people who did say one particular time of year is lonelier chose winter, but a few even chose summer. At Christmas, many people go to great lengths to ensure that everyone is included, inviting friends over if they know they might be alone. But in summer if everyone else goes on holiday, you might be the one feeling left behind. So perhaps we should start wondering whether other people might be lonely all year round, instead of just at Christmas.  


            5. People who often feel lonely have higher levels of empathy than everyone else


            In the survey two kinds of empathy were measured. One was empathy for people’s physical pain – how sorry you feel for someone who has accidentally slammed their hand in a door, picked up a scalding frying pan or been stung by a wasp. The other was how much empathy you have for other people’s social pain – for someone who’s been bullied at school, not invited to a party or dumped by their partner.  


            There was no difference in empathy for physical pain between the people who felt more or less lonely. But the people who said they often or very often felt lonely scored higher on average for empathy for social pain. Maybe because they have experienced for themselves what it feels like to be left out, they empathise more with other people who find themselves in the same situation.

            關于這項調查結果:


            本文中的發現是基于名為“BBC孤獨實驗”的在線調查,共計有5.5萬名來自世界各地的人參與。該實驗由英國三所大學的學者和英國惠康博物館共同設計。


            1. 年輕人比老年人更孤獨


            一說到孤獨的人,我們腦海中浮現的往往是獨居老人,無人問津。在BBC孤獨實驗中也確實如此,75歲以上的人中有27%說他們經常或總是感到孤獨。這個比例比其他一些調查高,因為這是在線調查,受訪者都是自愿參加,可能孤獨人士更多。


            不同年齡段孤獨感差別很大。其中最強烈的是16到24歲的人,有40%說經常或總是感到孤獨。


            為何有這么多年輕人感到孤獨?也許是他們更愿意承認孤獨,年長些的可能覺得需要表現得很獨立。但值得注意的是,當問到在人生哪個階段感到孤獨時,即便是年長者,回憶起來答得最多的還是青壯年時期。


            所以,讓年輕人更感孤獨的可能不是現代生活,而是年輕本身。我們也許認為16到24歲正是自由自在享受人生的階段,剛離開學校,更能主宰自己的生活,但這也是個過渡時期——離開家、上大學、開始新工作,都會離開從小一起長大的朋友。同時年輕人也在努力弄清楚自己是誰,找到自己在社會中的定位。


            此外,年輕人還沒有習慣孤獨的感覺,還不知道它終將過去,或者還沒有應對辦法,比如轉移注意力或找尋陪伴。


            最可能感到孤獨的并不是年長者。

            2. 41%的人認為孤獨有積極作用


            這一發現與已故神經學家卡喬波(John Cacioppo)等人的觀點一致,他們認為孤獨是人類進化的產物,雖不愉快,但可能有用。人類通過團隊合作才存活下來,如果感到遭到了團隊的排斥,孤獨感可能會驅使他們與人聯系,找尋新朋友或重拾舊情誼。


            問題是孤獨感可能變成長期的,會嚴重影響個人幸福,甚至健康。下面這則動畫是我們在實驗開始時發布的,會有更詳盡的解釋:

            如果長期感到孤獨,一年后會增加抑郁風險。雖然參與者中有41%的人認為孤獨能有積極作用,但在經常感到孤獨的人中僅有31%支持這一說法。孤獨也會非常痛苦難受,如果持續時間很長,也就沒什么好處了。


            3. 孤獨的人社交技能并不差


            有時我們認為孤獨的人是因為交友困難,提升社交技能會有所幫助。但我們發現并非如此。社交的要素之一就是體會別人的感受,并隨之調整自己的反應,也許對方有所擔憂或者你不經意間冒犯了他們。


            要想知道對他人情緒的感受程度如何,一個衡量方法是通過看人臉,或者只看雙眼來判斷對方的情緒。經常感到孤獨的人和其他人在感受他人情緒方面的平均得分差不多,但神經敏感程度不同。孤獨的人可能不是社交技能差,而是難以應對社交場合中的焦慮。


            4. 冬天不比其他季節孤獨


            快到圣誕節時,慈善機構的助老活動經常會用孤寡老人的圖片。圣誕節就是要和愛的人聚在一起慶祝,因此許多人害怕一個人過。英國喜劇演員米利肯(Sarah Millican)圣誕節那天在推特上成功舉辦了一場“加入”活動,讓孤獨的人可以一起聊天。如果你生活在北半球,圣誕節正好是在冬季,白天最短,人們在室內待得更多,如果孤獨就會覺得更加孤單。


            人們一年四季都會感到孤獨,不只是在冬天。

            但我們發現,對許多孤獨的人來說,冬天并沒有更嚴重。我們詢問了人們在一年和一天之中什么時候最孤獨,超過三分之二的都說冬天并不比其他季節嚴重。少數人說他們的確會在一年中的某個時間更孤獨,有些人說是冬天,甚至還有人說是夏天。圣誕節時,很多人大費周章,保證照顧到每個人,邀請可能會孤獨的朋友。但在夏天,如果人人都去度假了,你就可能感到被落下。所以我們一年四季都該想想別人是不是孤獨,而不僅僅是圣誕節的時候。


            5. 常感孤獨的人更有同理心


            調查包括了兩種同理心。一種是對生理疼痛,譬如別人不小心被門夾到了手,被熱鍋燙到或被蜜蜂蜇傷等。另一種是社會疼痛,包括在學校遭到霸凌,沒被邀請參加派對或被分手了等等。


            無論孤獨感多強,人們對生理疼痛的同理心并沒有差別。但經常或總是感到孤獨的人總體上對社會疼痛的同理心更強,可能是因為他們親身體會過被屏蔽在外的感覺,對相同處境的人更有同理心。

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