Loneliness, warmth-seeking behavior, and posttraumatic stress among survivors of the Sichuan earthquake

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Huanhuan Li
Xiaolan Liao
Cite this article:  Li, H., & Liao, X. (2013). Loneliness, warmth-seeking behavior, and posttraumatic stress among survivors of the Sichuan earthquake. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 41(10), 1605-1612.


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We examined: a) different correlation patterns between loneliness and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom structures, and b) the relationship between loneliness and physical coldness/warmth-seeking behavior among people with PTSD. Participants were divided into a PTSD group and a control group and after completing a loneliness-priming task, the PTSD group also took part in a temperature evaluation experiment. Control subjects completed the UCLA Loneliness Scale but not the temperature evaluation experiment. We found that reported levels of loneliness were significantly higher in the PTSD participant group than in the controls, and dysphoric arousal and numbing factors were significant predictors of loneliness. These data indicate that loneliness is closely associated with depression-related PTSD symptom constructs in people diagnosed with PTSD. The PTSD participant group estimated the temperature in the room to be lower than the actual values, and preferred hot soup to control food/drink presented at room temperature. The implications of the relationships among loneliness, physical warmth, and psychological/interpersonal warmth on PTSD therapy are discussed.

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