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Literature Review An Assignment Submitted by Name of Student Name of Establishment Class XXXX, Section XXXX, Fall 2011

LITERATURE REVIEW 2 Literature Review

Cognitive approach is one of the most popular directions in modern psychology. Cognitive psychology studies the way people obtain information about the world, as they interpret this information, how it is stored in memory and converted into knowledge and the way this knowledge affects our attention and behavior. Thus cognitive psychology studies human activity connected with the acquisition, organization and the use of knowledge.

Cognitive theory is a theory which concerns personality and emphasizes the cognitive processes (thinking, perception, judgment) in the understanding of human behavior. All theories of personality basically have certain philosophical position about the nature of individual. That is, cognitive psychologist considers a vital human nature to have a great impact on the development of personality model. Cognitive psychology should be understood as a direction, which task is to prove the critical role of knowledge in the behavior of the subject.

The organization of knowledge in the memory of the person, including the relationship between verbal and figurative components in the process of memorizing and thinking becomes the central issue in the cognitive study. Thus, cognitive psychology covers almost all cognitive processes: from sensations to the perception, recognition, memory, concept formation, thinking and imagination (Cardwell & Flanagan, 2005).

Scholars of cognitive psychology claim that representations about the world are not merely a collection of information about the world. They program the future behavior

LITERATURE REVIEW 3 of the individual. What man does and the way he does it depends not only on his desires and needs, but also on the relative variability of his representations of reality (Sternberg & Mio, 2009).

The topic which has been much studied by the scalars of cognitive psychology is stress and its influence. To begin with, the effect of stress on memory is much larger in scale than it can be imagined. Stress causes a much higher damage than just makes you exhausted. Stress has a disastrous effect on the whole body as it weakens the immune system, puts down the nervous system, affects memory and slows brain activity (Conrad, 2011).

Any person is subjected to stress. Besides, stress can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from lifestyle changes to traditional way of life, world view and social surrounding. As the human being is a social creature, a prolonged loneliness can lead to serious stress (Matthews, 2000). Probably everyone has ever noticed that loneliness, not only spoils the mood, but the general condition as well. Thus the lack of communication causes stress, which in turn, as it has already been mentioned, has the negative impact on memory.. Scientists of Chicago University have proved this relationship on the biological level. They argue that the lack of communication causes premature solidification of the arteries, which leads to inflammation, and then problems with memory (Beilock, 2008).

That is why the investigation of the issue of loneliness is especially important in todays world. Nowadays loneliness is firmly embedded in the life of people. It has become almost fashionable to talk about loneliness in the crowd and loneliness in the

LITERATURE REVIEW 4 family. The modern man has cut himself off from the rest of the world. He prefers internal dialogue and living in dreams to communicating with others. Loneliness is the inevitable concomitant of civilization, a payback for its progress (Smith, 2002).

Today the majority of authors who highlight the problem of loneliness agree that loneliness is related to the experience of man's alienation from the community of people, family, nature and culture. They indicate that modern person feels loneliness most acutely in intense situations of forced intercourse (Grant, n.d.). The most detailed study of loneliness is presented by interactions theory of cognitive and psychodynamic approaches.

The cognitive approach definitely stands out from the mentioned trends in terms of stimulating further research. It serves as the basis for a number of programmatic researches that demonstrates the value of attribution and self-control in their influence on loneliness.

In the cognitive theory and its conceptualization of loneliness, much attention is paid to the development, analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of sociopsychological and psychotherapeutic methods to help people overcome loneliness. In addition, part of the research involves both general social aspects of loneliness. Moreover, despite the fact that there is a sufficient variety of representations of loneliness and approach for its consideration in the scientific literature today, there is no single, holistic view of the phenomenon (Zunshine, 2010).

LITERATURE REVIEW 5 Cognitive school does not deny the importance of affective side of the phenomena (loneliness is a difficult emotional experience, as the lonely people are deeply unhappy) and behaviorist factors (low level of social contacts, gaps in contacts, social dissatisfaction in interaction), but it focuses attention on the subjective perception of feelings of loneliness.

Analyzing loneliness, theorists of cognitive school (Peplau & Perlman, 1982) accentuate the role of knowledge as a factor which mediates the relationship between lack of sociality and loneliness. The cognitive approach assumes that loneliness occurs in cases where individual is aware of the discrepancy between the desired and the achieved level of his personal social contacts. Thus loneliness is conceptualized as subjective experience, not an external condition.

Cognitive scientists claim that loneliness is a reaction to the fact that social relations of the individual does not meet certain internal standards, whether a person will experience loneliness depends on personal expectations of the individual in interpersonal relations.

In the empirical study conducted by Jonathan M. Cheek and Catherine M. Busch, (1981) shyness is considered to be the underlying reason for the experience of loneliness (shy people do not know how to establish and maintain satisfactory social relationships and feel social insecurity). Shy people are faced up with the excessive expectations on social relationships and inability to express themselves. That is why lonely people tend to

LITERATURE REVIEW 6 ascribe their failure only to themselves. The accusation creates a feeling of shame and guilt about their inferiority and incompetence.

The following method was used to prove the above hypothesis. A hundred undergraduates of introductory psychology class took part in the study as part of their course. They filled in the measure questionnaires on shyness and loneliness at the start of a new semester. At the end of the semester the testing was done again (Time 2). As an instrument, the scholars used twenty-item revised UCLA Loneliness Scale which measured the degree of a person's dissatisfaction with current social relationships. The results showed that shy students generally had considerably higher scores on loneliness than others at the first time they were measured. Both groups demonstrated a decrease in loneliness rates in the end of the semester, but the shy students were still drastically lonelier than the not shy one. These results were a sign that social situations (such as the new situation at the beginning of a new semester) as well as individual disposition (shyness) lead to the occurrence of loneliness that an individual may experience.

Another empirical study of loneliness was a study of social ties conducted by Cacioppo(2006) in the town called Framingham. He drawn up a scheme of social contacts for a generation of participants(1019 people) living in Framingham at the time of study, taking into account the family, friendships and marital relationships. In addition, participants were asked to indicate how many days during the last week (the week preceding the survey) they felt alone. The survey results were reflected in the scheme in different colors.

LITERATURE REVIEW 7 Statistics provided by the social structure proved that nodes of the same colors tend to group, that is, the loneliest people connected mostly with the same kind of people. Cacioppo proposed three variants of explanation of the fact that people prone to loneliness tend to gather in groups. Firstly, the similarity of life circumstances lead to the appearance of similar features. Secondly, it is the desire for such a selective by nature itself. If the tendency to isolation is a character trait, then it is not surprising that single people are trying to find each other. And thirdly, loneliness can spread from person to person, and then there may be a manifestation of the induced, imitative behavior.

The second question is does life alone leads to loneliness? Studies have shown that the quantitative aspects of the relationship, as well as the frequency of contact and the number of friends, is only moderately associated with subjective well-being. For example, in 17 studies conducted by Larson (Larson, 1978), the correlation between the objective characteristics of social contact and the criteria for moral or life satisfaction varies from 0.01 to 0.46.

The establishment of the fact that the qualitative aspects of social relations only moderately predict well-being or loneliness among adults suggests that assumption "the more the better" is too simplistic. Questions should be changed from concepts like "how much "and" how often "into investigating the sense of social ties and interactional process.

Probably the surrounding conditions can not be taken as a factor responsible for loneliness or social satisfaction in the end of life. Although loneliness among older

LITERATURE REVIEW 8 people may be associated with a decrease in the number of social contacts with friends and children (Perlman, Gerson & Spinner, 1978), but the majority of old people live alone, regularly communicating with other people. Furthermore, living with someone else is not a guarantee that social ties are satisfactory enough.

Perlman and his colleagues (Perlman, 1978) found more evidence of loneliness among older single people who were living with relatives than other elderly people who lived alone or with friends. They conducted an empirical study of loneliness and included 158 senior citizens of Winnipeg in their sample. People were asked to fill in a question form.

After analyzing the results, the scholars come to conclusion that the higher level of loneliness correlated with less friendship contact, less amount of close friends, social anxiety experience, low satisfaction with marriage and expectations of life. They also found that loneliness is much more related to contacts with friends (r = - 0.51) than with children (r = - 0.18), and is independent on contact with relatives.

Frequent but unpleasant social contacts hardly reduce the feeling of loneliness or contribute to improve the psychological well-being. Tunstall (Tunstall, 1967) found that 27% of people who identify themselves as lonely are married: their loneliness was the result of distancing of their husband (wife), arose from awareness of neglect from very "busy" husband (wife).

It is not surprising that in a Tunstalls sample the majority of old people who lived alone were not lonely. Among men and women living alone, only 15% reported that they

LITERATURE REVIEW 9 are often lonely. Although this percentage of the extent of loneliness is higher than that of the old people who live with someone (4%), it does not indicate in any way that the typical representative of this age group living alone often feel lonely. Summarizing the above, it can be concluded that the living alone does not necessarily imply loneliness, as it was not supported by empirical evidence. Also, it can be stated that loneliness does not have some age consistent pattern.


Severe life conditions, any unpleasant events or news can lead to stress. But apart from these factors, loneliness is a major reason that can cause long-term experience of stress, which can be bad for memory and cognitive processes.

The existing approaches to the problem of loneliness are still not well developed, which is a consequence of an early stage of development of this field of research. However, the existence of different approaches of loneliness study will undoubtedly encourage the study of the phenomenon from different perspectives in the future.

In most cases, the existing concepts of loneliness can be further developed, because their potential is quite significant and can be more fully realized. It can be assumed that the interactions and cognitive models (or their variations) can play a productive role in research. Ideas of "reinforcement" may also be important in contributing to the understanding of the issue. Probably the most perspective direction of the research is on the nature of loneliness itself and the development of systematic principles of its relationship with other variables.


Beilock, S. (2008). Math Performance in Stressful Situations. Department of Psychology, 5848 South University Avenue, The University of Chicago, 17 (5). Cacioppo, J.T, Hughes, M.E, Waite, L.J., Hawkley, L.C, Thisted, R.A. (2006). Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychology and Aging. 21, 140151. Cardwell, M., & Flanagan, C. (2005). Psychology AS: The complete companion. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Cheek, J. M., Busch, C. M. (1981).The Influence of Shyness on Loneliness in a New Situation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 7 (4), 572-577. Conrad, C. D. (2011). The handbook of stress: Neuropsychological effects on the brain. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell. Grant, M. (n.d.). Fear and Loneliness - The Way. [e-book] Larson,R. (1978), Thirty Years of Research on the Subjective Well-Being of Older Americans, 33(1), 109-125. Matthews, G. (2000). Human performance: Cognition, stress, and individual differences. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press. Perlman, Daniel (1978). Loneliness among Senior Citizens: An Empirical Report.. Essence: Issues in the Study of Ageing, Dying, and Death, v2 n4 p239-48 1978.

LITERATURE REVIEW 11 Peplau, L. & Perlman, D. (1982). Perspectives on loneliness. In Peplau, L. & Perlman, D. (eds.). Loneliness: A Sourcebook of Current Theory, Research and Therapy,1-20. NY: John Wiley and Sons. Smith, M. K. (2002). Erich Fromm: alienation, being and education the encyclopedia of informal education. [e-book] Available through: Sternberg, R. J., & Mio, J. S. (2009). Cognitive psychology. Australia: Cengage Learning/Wadsworth. Tunstall J. (1967). Old and alone. New York: Humanities Press, Inc. Zunshine, L. (2010). Introduction to cognitive cultural studies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.