La soledad es contagiosa


Catching loneliness from the lonely

It sounds like a contradiction in terms but loneliness is catching. That's the conclusion of a detailed study into people's behaviour carried out by teams at three American universities.

Reporter: Jack Izzard

Listen to the story

It's a medical paradox. People who feel lonely can spread the emotion to others - much like a virus. After poring over data collected from nearly 5,000 people, the researchers concluded that loneliness is more than just a personal feeling, it's an infectious mental condition. This was a statistical rather than medical study, so it doesn't explain how the contagion happens. But what it did find was that the friends of a person describing themselves as lonely were 52% more likely to become lonely themselves, and that their friends were at an increased risk too, even if they didn't know the lonely person.

The study's authors suggest this may be down to the way lonely people behave. A tendency to be wary or mistrustful of others can make their loneliness a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it may drive friends away. This much may seem obvious, but the study also hints that this behaviour can rub off on other people, painting a rather bleak picture of lonely people driving each other into ever greater isolation. Its advice to the lonely - surround yourself with a network of friends, as long as they're not lonely too.

Jack Izzard, BBC News

Listen to the words

paradox paradoja

poring over dataestudiar minuciosamente los datos

an infectious mental conditionuna condición mental contagiosa

at an increased risk eran más propensos

down todebido a

a tendency to be wary or mistrustful ofuna tendencia a sospechar de otros

a self-fulfilling prophecy profecía auto cumplida

drive friends awayrechazar a los amigos

rub off oninfluenciar en

painting a rather bleak picturedescribiendo una situación sombría