MAUGHAN: Do you have any rose-colored glasses? Go put those on.
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DUCKWORTH: I’m Angela Duckworth.
MAUGHAN: I’m Mike Maughan.
DUCKWORTH + MAUGHAN: And you’re listening to No Stupid Questions.
Today on the show: Are we becoming lonelier — or just more alone?
DUCKWORTH: Look how many people showed up for your birthday party! How could you be lonely?
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DUCKWORTH: Mike, I have a question that’s kind of a downer, so I’m just going to say it before you say, “No, don’t bring me down.” But I wonder if you think that we’re more lonely these days. And I guess by “we” I mean, I don’t know — maybe I mean Americans, maybe I mean anyone. Do you think people are feeling more lonely these days?
MAUGHAN: Oh my gosh. Yes, I actually do. And I think we see it a lot. It’s so interesting that you ask this. I will just say, anecdotally, I mentor a group of young single adults who are in their early to mid twenties. Some are in college, some recent graduates. And I was asking them, what are the biggest challenges you all face? And of course they bring up figuring out what to do with my life, or what I should major in. But the topic that kept coming up over and over was loneliness. And this is from a generation of kids who are — you know, they still have roommates. They live in close proximity. They’re in a college town. There’s so much that they can do, so many activities going on. But that was — I was surprised how often the topic of loneliness came up as, “This is one of the big struggles that we’re facing.” And I don’t think it’s just them.
DUCKWORTH: It’s so interesting to ask this question about whether we’re feeling more lonely or whether we are more alone, because there’s a difference.
MAUGHAN: Huge difference. And frankly though, what I think I’m learning is that a lot of people who aren’t alone are some of the people who feel the loneliest. What do you see? What does research tell us?
DUCKWORTH: So, there’s a review in Nature Reviews, one of the very top scientific journals, and it was just published in 2022. And the title of the article is “Loneliness Across Time and Space.” And the review tries to, like, wrap its arms around all scientific knowledge on loneliness and whether we are becoming more lonely. And the very first line of the abstract is: “People feel lonely when their social needs are not met by the quantity and quality of their social relationships.” And the emphasis here is on feeling lonely, because you have this gap between what you psychologically need and what you perceive to be reality.
MAUGHAN: So, wait. It’s almost an expectations game? Is that what you’re saying?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, it is an expectations game in that if you don’t actually have the expectation of having a lot of really strong, intimate friendships or other relationships, then you won’t feel lonely. And you could, on the other hand, be somebody who outwardly — everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh, look how many people showed up for your birthday party. Are you kidding me? How could you be lonely?” And they, they look at you and they think, “Wow, she’s got quantity and quality of social relationships.” But the key to feelings, to emotions is what you perceive as the gap. So yeah, your expectations have a lot to do with it — I don’t want to say it has nothing to do with reality, but it’s the gap between expectations and reality that makes you feel lonely or not feel lonely.
MAUGHAN: You know what comes to mind immediately? Tonight, I have three different dinners I’m supposed to be — I obviously can’t be at all of them, but —.
DUCKWORTH: You have three different dinner invitations for tonight? That’s impressive.
MAUGHAN: Well, I mean, they’re like — one is receiving an award on behalf of 5 for the Fight, the cancer charity I co-founded. One is going to this thing with the governor and one of the largest employers in the state. And one of them is going to this opening for a big business. And so, it’s not like I lack things to do, but when you were talking about expectations, sometimes, it’s the idea that, like, there is so much out there that I could be doing, but I want to stay home. So, then I don’t feel lonely because I know, “Oh, I’m turning it all down.” But if you have nothing to do and no one inviting you to anything, you’re still sitting at home, but maybe you feel lonely in that moment because it’s like, “Wait, nobody wants me tonight.” I mean, it’s so funny. And so, aloneness is not the same. Like, we live in a more — and I’m speaking generally in the U.S. I’m not speaking individually of anyone — but a more affluent society, which has led to more people living on their own. But what the data in some of these reports that I’m reading — not scientific journals, but just surveys and stuff like that — show that sometimes people living alone are the most social and feel the least lonely because they’re proactively solving for their problems, and they can get out and socialize more.
DUCKWORTH: They’re going out with their friends more. Maybe they have three dinner invitations on a weeknight!
MAUGHAN: That was not like a — what do they call that? A “humblebrag” or something? And also, it’s not like I’m like, “Yay, I have three dinners!” Anyone who’s gone to these kinds of dinners and eats the rubber chicken produced en masse knows that this is not like a “wahoo.”
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, those don’t sound that fun. Um, but, you know, many people, including the great psychologist William James, have said something along the lines of, “Happiness is when your expectations meet your reality.” And oftentimes, people — you know, obviously, then the next sentence in their minds is like, “Well, just lower your expectations,” which is sometimes said humorously. But yeah, the point is that: there’s two parts of the equation. There’s your expectations, and then there is your perceived reality. So like, are we getting lonelier? You know, I’m a great fan and something of a friend of Vivek Murthy, our current Surgeon General.
MAUGHAN: That’s what I was just going to bring up. The Surgeon General just wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in April of 2023 saying we have become a lonely nation, and it’s time to fix that. And he starts by talking about the fact that at any moment, one out of every two Americans is experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. And if you talk about the Surgeon General, as he presents this evidence, he says that it includes introverts, extroverts, rich, poor, young, old. I mean, I think — I’m stereotyping completely now — but I have this view sometimes of older Americans, who are, you know, in their early to late 80s, who are sitting home alone, nobody’s visiting them, they might be in a home, etc., and that that’s where loneliness is. Or that, I don’t know, now I’m questioning myself, because I was going to say introverts, but introverts probably have lower expectations of socialization. Anyway, his point is that loneliness and isolation are hurting entire communities, and there are so many negative externalities.
DUCKWORTH: Right. The Surgeon General has been talking about loneliness actually for years. And I remember meeting with Vivek. We were talking during his first — I guess he was the 19th and now he’s the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. And during his first term, he already was making loneliness, and mental health, and social isolation — you know, these themes that, like, preceded the pandemic for him.
MAUGHAN: If I’m not wrong, I think it was 2017 that he first coined the term “loneliness epidemic.” But I mean, you just think what must have happened during the pandemic to exacerbate everything he was worried about before that.
DUCKWORTH: So, when he said that — I mean, I can’t say that he was the very first human, but he could arguably be the most prominent person to talk about a loneliness epidemic. And I recall that in one of our meetings, you know, it was not where he started, right? So, if you go back in time, you know, there was — and there still is, but at the time it was really front and center — the fentanyl problem, you know, opioid overdose and entire swaths of the country, like, sinking into not just poverty, but also from his perspective as the U.S. Surgeon General, he was looking at mortality rates, right, going up for the first time in history for segments of the population. So, he goes to try to figure out, like, what’s going on with these communities. And he’s thinking, originally, like, there’s a drug problem. There’s an addiction problem. And then, he’s sort of following the breadcrumb trail to like, oh, there’s deep poverty and there’s kind of the lack of expectation for a positive future. And he’s following it even more. And he gets to this lack of social support — like, lack of feeling like you’re good enough: this feeling of, like, you know, what it means to feel low social status and to feel like you’re not connected to other people. So yeah, he was prescient in that he was thinking about this well before the pandemic. I will say that now he’s the 21st, you know, Surgeon General, so his second term, and we’re in the aftermath of the pandemic, that’s where the scientific research, I think, does support that there is an increase in loneliness, at least in the United States.
MAUGHAN: And let me ask quickly, because I think it’s important as we talk about this — the pandemic obviously caused more aloneness, right?
DUCKWORTH: That you don’t need a study on because we were all locked up in our — yeah.
MAUGHAN: So, we know that, but I think what we’re trying to distinguish here is aloneness is different than loneliness. And so, obviously, the pandemic created aloneness. Right? More people are quarantining by themselves or just with their immediate family unit and maybe are not having the social interactions that they need among peers, work, etc. Because while family is amazing, a lot of people can still feel lonely if that’s their only social connection.
DUCKWORTH: Right. So, we’ve established that feeling lonely is not the same exact thing as being physically alone. But we also have an intuition that there’s some connection there, right? There’s not a one-to-one mapping, but if you are alone a lot, like during the pandemic, maybe it has some influence on your feelings of loneliness. So, I’m thinking of a review that was published in American Psychologist in 2022. And it’s called “Loneliness Before and During the Covid-19 Pandemic. I want to highlight from this review in particular the longitudinal designs, and that means people who are followed from the time that preceded the pandemic, you know, through the pandemic. And so, I’ll quote from the review: “The synthesis of longitudinal studies indicates increases in loneliness. However, observed effects were small, suggesting that at this point in time, concerns about a ‘loneliness pandemic’ are likely overblown. However, as loneliness constitutes a risk for premature mortality and mental and physical health, it should be closely monitored, ideally in combination with potential risk and protective factors and health outcomes to derive appropriate interventions.”
MAUGHAN: Interesting. So, it’s not saying there’s no loneliness pandemic. It’s saying maybe it’s not as — maybe we’re overblowing how big it is?
DUCKWORTH: I think I would summarize their findings by saying, first of all, yes, you know, the Surgeon General’s not wrong. Loneliness is definitely on the rise, given all the available data. If you look at loneliness before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an increase. So, it’s about 0.27 standard deviations.
MAUGHAN: That seems like a lot.
DUCKWORTH: “So: standard deviation — not a term that is used in casual conversation very much. It’s a statistic that expresses how spread out people are in a distribution. So, if people are really different from each other, they’re all over the map, you have a really big standard deviation. But if everybody’s really clustered together, they’re kind of scoring all, you know, very close to the average, then you have a small standard deviation.” So, 0.27 is almost a third of a standard deviation. And I would say, if you compare this effect to other things in psychology, if you take, like, all the things that people study in psychology and you average them together, this is actually a very typical effect, not a small effect. So, I don’t disagree with any of the statistics in this very carefully done review, but I would submit that a third of a standard deviation, that’s, to me, a relatively substantial difference between loneliness before Covid-19 and then loneliness during.
MAUGHAN: My reaction is, well, obviously. I mean, again, I’m speaking to anecdotal evidence, but: work from home — I know a lot of people love it, but, you know, a lot of people are saying, “Hey, this isn’t working for me.” I’ve got a dear friend who works from home. His wife works outside the home. They have no children. He said, “The most I’ve spent time with anyone is my dog.” He just quit his job because he is like, “I can’t handle having no social interaction anymore.” So, my guess is loneliness is still underreported because people still feel embarrassed. We also, in our survey research, talk a lot about social-desirability bias.
DUCKWORTH: Your survey research? You mean, at Qualtrics?
MAUGHAN: At Qualtrics. And so, it’s basically like, if you ask people, “Do you wash your hands?” It’s socially desirable to say, “Of course I wash my hands after I go to the bathroom.” And I wonder if it’s not “socially desirable,” quote-unquote, to say that I’m lonely. So, I do wonder if people are still not willing to admit how lonely they are, even if it’s just in survey research.
DUCKWORTH: Yeah. I don’t know, but I, I think you must be right.
MAUGHAN But I, I think the gist of all that is to say that there’s a real impact — that the Surgeon General, when he writes this op-ed saying we’ve become a lonely nation and it’s time to fix that, that it’s, it’s real. We can debate forever whether it’s a ton lonelier or just a little bit lonelier. But the point that you’re making is that there’s substance to this, right?
DUCKWORTH: Yes. So, Mike, I think you and I both would love to hear about the experiences of our listeners on this topic of loneliness and solitude. Please record a voice memo in a quiet place with your mouth close to the phone and email us at NSQ@Freakonomics.com. Maybe we’ll play it on a future episode of the show.
Still to come on No Stupid Questions: Mike and Angela share practical advice on what to do if you’re feeling lonely.
MAUGHAN: Okay, everybody, just find your soulmate, and you’ll be fine.
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Now, back to Mike and Angela’s conversation about the loneliness epidemic.
MAUGHAN: Okay Angela, so, the Kaiser Family Foundation — KFF now — put out this big thing saying 22 percent of adults in the U.S., 23 percent of adults in the U.K., say they often or always feel lonely.
DUCKWORTH: One out of five people.
MAUGHAN: Right. So, the Surgeon General talked about, you know, how isolation and loneliness hurts whole communities. It makes us more susceptible to polarization. We’re less likely to pull together to solve challenges — not just individually, but also as communities, and countries, and all those things. In this Kaiser Family Foundation survey, people are using so many different coping mechanisms to deal with loneliness. You know, they found that the biggest one is people distract themselves with TV, computer, video games. Next is talking to a friend. The next one is they relive past memories. They browse social media and internet sites; exercise; overeat; smoking and tobacco; alcohol use, etc., right? So some are maybe okay. Some of those are highly destructive. What do we learn about what we should do about loneliness? I do think it helps to know that other people are experiencing what you’re experiencing.
DUCKWORTH: I think you’ve given a really good first step, which is to say, “I am not alone in feeling lonely because one in five —” even one in four approaching, right?
MAUGHAN: Right, in the U.K.
DUCKWORTH: It’s a pretty high proportion. You know, what’s step two? There are things that you can do, but I will also just say that I don’t think anybody has, you know, the answer. And I say this because I was so lonely in my 20s. Like, oh my gosh, so, so lonely. So, I’ll try to add some research here, but I just — it’s not a solved problem. You know, when people feel truly lonely, it’s not an unsolvable problem, but I just want to say, like, it’s not a simple problem either. So, let’s try to work through what — what have you done?
MAUGHAN: Look, I mean, I don’t know the answer. I think that there are a few different strategies I guess I could talk about. One is learning to be alone without feeling lonely. I think that is actually one of the most important — I don’t know, can I call that a “skill”? One of the most important skills I’ve had to learn.
DUCKWORTH: Mm, how to be alone.
MAUGHAN: Yeah, how to be alone without feeling lonely. I genuinely think that is a skill — a muscle that needs to be developed in humanity — because we are more alone, but that doesn’t mean we have to be more lonely. I mean, Wendell Berry once wrote: “For if in solitude one’s inner voices become audible and one responds more clearly to other lives, then in loneliness, one’s inner scream becomes deafening, deadening, severing any thread of connection to other lives.” So, he’s making this sad juxtaposition between loneliness and solitude. But I, I do think that’s powerful because — I don’t know if you’ve read Will Smith’s autobiography —.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, yes. Will. I read it cover to cover.
MAUGHAN: But he talked about going through this weird time in his life. And he takes — I think it was 14 days. He goes to Utah. And he basically locks himself in this house. And he’s all by himself. He doesn’t have connection to the outside world. Day one, it’s terrible. Day two, he’s bouncing off the walls. Day three, it’s a mess. Day four, finally, he begins to quiet in his heart and his mind. And then, he just says creativity explodes. He basically transitions from this loneliness into solitude and this incredibly creative time, what one writer, Maria Popova, who’s an essayist, author, poet, writer — she wrote about this idea of “fertile solitude.” So, I think that’s one really powerful thing. I think, obviously, another thing is some level of consistency and intimacy, right?
DUCKWORTH: I do think there is something about feeling this intimacy. But like, that feeling of really connecting to another person. I mean, it’s kind of obvious probably to you, Mike, but I think the reason I’m not lonely right now — and I have been in my past extremely lonely, where it was, like, the number one emotion I was feeling for quite some time — but right now, I have Jason. So, it’s like, hey, do you feel like you lack companionship? No, I’m married to Jason. Like, how often do you feel left out? Never. I get to have dinner with Jason every night. Like, do you feel isolated from others? Like, no, I, you know, wake up in the same bed as Jason every — so —.
MAUGHAN: And you guys have an incredible relationship, I will say. Some people, even within their marriage or within their relationship, experience companionship but maybe lack intimacy.
DUCKWORTH: I think that’s right. I feel like this feeling of seeing and being seen — there is a kind of feeling like somebody really knows you.
MAUGHAN: Exactly. You know, I have this book club that we’ve talked about before. We’ve been meeting for six years. We meet every month.
DUCKWORTH: It’s like six people. How many people are in book club?
MAUGHAN: There’s seven of us. And we keep it small on purpose. That’s how it keeps going.
DUCKWORTH: And you don’t let anyone in.
MAUGHAN: Right. We don’t let anyone else in. But part of that is, again, not trying to be exclusive, but trying to maintain the intimacy of it.
DUCKWORTH: And the consistency, right? Like, these seven people really show up.
MAUGHAN: Everyone shows up every time. And people have kids, and busy jobs, and crazy lives. But we’re there. And I just think that part of that consistency and intimacy, wherever you can create it, is incredibly powerful as well. What have you found? Or what broke you out of it in your 20s, I guess? Unless it was just Jason, and then that’s hard — “Find your Jason.”
DUCKWORTH: Actually, it was pretty much just Jason.
MAUGHAN: Okay, everybody, just find your soulmate, and you’ll be fine.
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, easy cheesy, lemon squeezy, just find your soulmate. I will say that, you know, if I think about my own life, it really was a change in my situation. It wasn’t a change in my mindset. It wasn’t a change in my attitude. It wasn’t like, “Hey, you know, Ang, you could look at the glass half full.” Like, “Try on these spectacles. They’re rose-colored.”
MAUGHAN: It’s almost patronizing when people are just like, “Do you have any rose-colored glasses? Go put those on.” It’s like okay, okay, thanks so much. That’s really helpful.
DUCKWORTH: I mean, I do think it can feel patronizing. And it certainly isn’t what changed for me. You know, your story — I did read the Will Smith, um, memoir from cover to cover. Of course I did, as a sort of a student-devotee. But I think, in a way, these kind of, like, learning how to appreciate and get into and be creative during solitude isn’t — you know, if you had said that to me when I was, like, you know, 25 and deeply lonely, I — I don’t know what I would have said, but I don’t know that I would have found it to be helpful. Because I wasn’t looking for the capacity to have creative self-insight. I just wanted to not feel lonely. I wanted — I wanted companionship. And I was thinking about just, you know, my day-to-day life. But if you ask me about loneliness interventions, absolutely, a lot of them basically are therapy, right?
MAUGHAN: Like, literally go to therapy?
DUCKWORTH: I mean, honestly, there aren’t a lot of loneliness interventions being run. But, in a way, you could argue that therapy itself is a loneliness intervention, because many, many people go to therapy because they are feeling intensely lonely. So, therapy itself is a kind of one-on-one loneliness intervention, if you will.
MAUGHAN: Well, and there’s a deep level of intimacy. There’s a level of consistency. You’re sharing your deepest thoughts with somebody who’s listening to you. You feel seen. So, I mean, I would hope people find those relationships outside of therapy as well — I mean, use therapy. I’m a huge fan of therapy. But I hope maybe the extrapolation from this is we have to find ways to connect with each other and have that level of intimacy and consistency with somebody, whether it’s a romantic partner, or a friend, or whomever. Here’s what I would say, too — and maybe I’m going on a limb here — I think so often loneliness is because we’re thinking about ourselves all the time. And this is the dumbest old adage I’ve ever heard, but, “If you’re feeling sad about your lot in life, build a service station on it.”
DUCKWORTH: Wait, I’ve never heard that before. That is so Mike Maughan. “If you’re feeling sad about your lot in life, build a service station on it.” Service station meaning a gas station?
MAUGHAN: Be of service.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, be of service! Oh, that kind of service.
MAUGHAN: The point is, like, be of service to people. It’s just a dumb little axiom.
DUCKWORTH: No, I like that. That’s good.
MAUGHAN: But the point is, I think so much of loneliness is we’re focused on ourselves. Like, nobody’s including me.
DUCKWORTH: Are people not texting you? It’s like, who are you texting?
MAUGHAN: Right! And I think so much of it is, like, if— I’m going to buy into the Surgeon General’s thing that we’re a lonely country. I just buy into it from all the anecdotes I hear, from all the research. And so, the idea is: if we’re that lonely, then stop waiting for someone to reach out to you and start reaching out to other people. If no one invites you over to something, then that is your opportunity to be the person who gathers. If nobody’s talking to you when you walk into a classroom, or into a church, or into some other place, and you’re waiting for someone to notice, you’re waiting for them to incorporate you. Well, go incorporate them.
DUCKWORTH: Right, if you’re lacking companionship, be a companion.
MAUGHAN: Exactly! And so, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not any of these things. I’m a human being though, and I’ve been through my share of loneliness and through my share of wonderful relationships. I’m rich in amazing friendships and amazing relationships. And I think most of that comes from being the kind of person who’s willing to reach out. You know, there’s this restaurant here in Utah called Communal, where literally you just sit at these tables. Ty Burrell, who is the dad — he played Phil Dunphy in Modern Family. He bought this bar up in Salt Lake called The Cotton Bottom. And I just went there the other day for this incredible garlic cheeseburger that he put back on the menu. But you show up. And again, it’s communal seating at all these tables. So, they don’t care how many are in your party. It’s like, “Oh, will you fit next to that group? Then you all sit together.” And I love that concept because we’ve become so like, “Oh, this party sits over here. That group sits over there.” And there are fewer and fewer places like The Cotton Bottom, or this restaurant Communal, or pubs — pub literally means “public house.” That’s where it came from, public house.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, I did not know that.
MAUGHAN: Where people come together — it’s just a gathering place where anybody can go. And you sit together instead of like, “Oh, you’re alone? Okay. Sit at that table by yourself.” And I think more of that feeling — if we’re just, instead of waiting for someone to reach out to us, reach out to other people — that can solve so much of the problem.
DUCKWORTH: And go! Get out of your bedroom. Go down to the pub — if there is one — or the closest analog to such a thing in your neighborhood.
MAUGHAN: Or join a hiking group. It doesn’t have to be alcohol-related.
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, try to get into Mike’s book club. Marry Jason. These are all actionable tips.
MAUGHAN: But that’s my point, like, you don’t have to wait to be in my book club, and you don’t have to try to steal your husband. Go create your own book club. Go create your own thing. And I think that if we have more creators, then we’ll have much less loneliness.
This episode was produced by me, Rebecca Lee Douglas. And now here’s a fact-check of today’s conversation:
In the first half of the show, Angela says that 19th-century psychologist William James wrote something along the lines of, “Happiness is when your expectations meet your reality.” She was thinking of a formula for self-esteem that James outlined in his book The Principles of Psychology. He wrote, “Self-esteem = Success/Pretensions,” by which he meant: the greater your success, and the lower your aspirations, the more self-esteem you’ll end up with.”
Then, Mike misattributes a quote about the difference between loneliness and solitude to novelist and poet Wendell Berry. The line actually came from an article by author and poet Maria Popova, in which she was citing Berry’s 1990 collection of essays “What Are People For?” Berry wrote: “True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.” Later, Mike credits Popova with the idea of “fertile solitude.” She has written about the concept, but the term comes from an essay on the aversion to being alone by British psychoanalytic writer Adam Phillips.
Finally, in a recent episode of the show, Mike and Angela mentioned the state of Michigan is shaped like a hand. In the fact check for that episode, I pointed out that Wisconsin has been depicted as a mitten in some of its tourism ads. Since then, we’ve received emails from listeners informing us that many other states also look like hands, including: Alaska, Washington, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
That’s it for the fact-check.
Before we wrap today’s show, let’s hear some thoughts about last week’s episode on disagreeing better.
Judy BATES: Hi, this is in response to your podcast about “can we disagree better.” I wanted to share that the best tool I ever learned in dealing with conflict with others was to start with the phrase “help me understand.” That phrase put the other person in the mindset of explaining to me versus fighting with me and helped me to keep my mind more open to opposing viewpoints. This ultimately led to more collaborative relationships with my colleagues and better end results. Hope that helps!
That was Judy Bates. Thanks to her and to everyone who shared their stories with us. And remember, we’d love to hear about your experiences with loneliness and solitude. Send a voice memo to NSQ@Freakonomics.com, and you might hear your voice on the show!
Coming up next week on No Stupid Questions: Where is the line between a little exaggeration and an outright lie?
DUCKWORTH: I have to confess to you that I am guilty of using “literally” figuratively.
That’s next week on No Stupid Questions.
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No Stupid Questions is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network, which also includes Freakonomics Radio, People I (Mostly) Admire, and The Economics of Everyday Things. All our shows are produced by Stitcher and Renbud Radio. Lyric Bowditch is our production associate. This episode was mixed by Eleanor Osborne. We had research assistance from Daniel Moritz-Rabson. Our theme song was composed by Luis Guerra. You can follow us on Twitter @NSQ_Show and on Facebook @NSQShow. If you have a question for a future episode, please email it to NSQ@Freakonomics.com. To learn more, or to read episode transcripts, visit Freakonomics.com/NSQ. Thanks for listening!
DUCKWORTH: I’m not a physician, obviously.
MAUGHAN: But you are a doctor, “Is there a doctor on the plane?” You’re like, “I am. Who would like to discuss psychology?”
- “Surgeon General: We Have Become a Lonely Nation. It’s Time to Fix That,” by Vivek H. Murthy (The New York Times, 2023).
- “Home Alone: More Than A Quarter of All Households Have One Person,” by Lydia Anderson, Chanell Washington, Rose M. Kreider, and Thomas Gryn (United States Census Bureau, 2023).
- “Loneliness Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis,” by Mareike Ernst, Daniel Niederer, Antonia M. Werner, Sara J. Czaja, Christopher Mikton, Anthony D. Ong, Tony Rosen, Elmar Brähler, and Manfred E. Beutel (American Psychologist, 2022).
- “Loneliness Across Time and Space,” by Maike Luhmann, Susanne Buecker, and Marilena Rüsberg (Nature Reviews Psychology, 2022).
- Will, by Will Smith with Mark Manson (2021).
- “Loneliness and Social Isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan: An International Survey,” by Bianca DiJulio, Liz Hamel, Cailey Muñana, and Mollyann Brodie (KFF, 2018).
- “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic,” by Vivek Murthy (Harvard Business Review, 2017).
- “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” by Maria Popova (The Marginalian, 2016).