Social context and loneliness in an epidemiological youth sample using the Experience Sampling Method

Wesley Chor-Yin TANG, Corine Sau-Man WONG, Ting Yat WONG, Christy Lai-Ming HUI, Stephanie Ming-Yin WONG, Yi-Nam SUEN, Sherry Kit-Wa CHAN, Wing-Chung CHANG, Edwin Ho-Ming LEE, Simon Sai-Yu Lui, Kai-Tai CHAN, Michael Tak-Hing WONG, Inez MYIN-GERMEYS, Eric Yu-Hai CHEN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Previous research has shown the relationship between loneliness and affect, as well as the relationship between trait loneliness and state loneliness. However, none has investigated how social context affects the association between loneliness and affect. The current study aims to examine the association between trait loneliness, state loneliness and momentary affects in different social contexts. 

Methods: Participants aged 15–24 were randomly recruited from a Hong Kong epidemiological study to participate in an Experience Sampling Method (ESM) study. The group was divided in two based on the mean trait loneliness score (UCLA Loneliness Scale) at baseline. State loneliness, momentary positive (PA) and negative affect (NA) and social context were assessed using ESM. Multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze the association between momentary affect, state loneliness and trait loneliness in various social contexts. 

Results: HL (high lonely) and LL (low lonely) groups consisted of 79 participants (44.6%) and 98 participants (55.4%) respectively. HL group had lower PA and higher NA, as well as a higher state loneliness than LL group. HL group had a lower state loneliness when being with intimate company compared to alone. LL group only had a higher PA when being with intimate company compared to non-intimate company and alone respectively. 

Conclusion: Adolescents with high level of trait loneliness experienced higher PA, momentary loneliness and lower NA compared to those with low level of trait loneliness. The quality of social company is crucial in allowing one to experience different degrees of PA and momentary loneliness. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-436
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Early online dateOct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


Tang, W. C.-Y., Wong, C. S.-M., Wong, T.-Y., Hui, C. L.-M., Wong, S. M.-Y., Suen, Y.-N., Chan, S. K.-W., Chang, W.-C., Lee, E. H.-M., Lui, S. S.-Y., Chan, K.-T., Wong, M. T.-H., Myin-Germeys, I., & Chen, E. Y.-H. (2022). Social context and loneliness in an epidemiological youth sample using the Experience Sampling Method. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 156, 429-436.


  • ESM
  • Momentary assessment
  • Loneliness
  • Epidemiological youth
  • Affect
  • Social context


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