This study sought to extend research on loneliness and coping. Emotional loneliness is a state that results from the lack of a personal, intimate attachment with another person, and social loneliness results from the lack of engaging in a social network, in which a person shares common interests with a group. Active coping involves making a plan and following it, while passive coping involves using passive techniques such as self-blame or distancing to solve the problem. In addition to replicating the prior finding of Russell et al. (1984) that emotionally lonely individuals were more likely to engage in active coping with their loneliness than socially lonely individuals, who were more likely to engage in passive coping with their loneliness, we examined potential mediators of this relationship: cognitive appraisal, self-concept clarity, and confidence in social skills. Forty six college students involved in long distance relationships were chosen for the study because social and emotional loneliness were expected to be fulfilled by different sources and could be easily differentiated. Contrary to the original hypothesis, results of statistical analysis showed that emotionally lonely people were more likely to use less-useful coping strategies such as denial or use of drugs or alcohol to deal with their loneliness rather than using problem-focused coping strategies, such as making a plan of action to deal with their loneliness (rs = .024 and -.315, respectively, 12 < .05). Of the variables examined, cognitive appraisal emerged as the only potential mediator of the relationship between loneliness and coping.
Garver '99, Betsy C., "Loneliness and Coping: Examining Predictors of Active and Passive Styles of Lonely Individuals" (1999). Honors Projects. Paper 85.