Amelia Blankenau

Examining Reasons for Loneliness Among Gender and Sexual Minority Emerging Adults in College

Faculty Mentor: Andrea Hopmeyer, Psychology Department

Major: Psychology

Funding: Gift of Andrew F. Newcomb '75


Prior research identifies loneliness as a pervasive public health issue among emerging adults in college. The present study aims to gain a nuanced understanding of reasons for loneliness among emerging adults in college, with a specific focus on gender and sexual identity. Participants were 692 students at a small liberal arts college in the western United States (Mage = 19.87, SD = 1.27, range = 18-29). Attributing loneliness to deficits in close relationships (i.e., friendships and romantic partnerships), not feeling connected to peers, and navigating sociopolitical identity concerns (e.g., questioning religious/political/moral beliefs) were uniquely associated with higher levels of loneliness. Future-related concerns emerged as a marginally significant predictor of loneliness. Gender identity emerged as a marginally significant moderator of the relationship between attributing loneliness to gender identity concerns and loneliness. Sexual identity was not a significant moderator of the relationship between attributing loneliness to sexual identity concerns and loneliness. The results indicate the need for college administrators to create programs and provide resources to decrease loneliness on college campuses, especially for gender and sexual minority students.


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