The Neuroendocrinology of Social Isolation

Posted: 9 Jan 2015

See all articles by John T. Cacioppo

John T. Cacioppo

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Stephanie Cacioppo

University of Chicago

John P. Capitanio

University of California, Davis - Department of Psychology

Steven Cole

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

Social isolation has been recognized as a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality in humans for more than a quarter of a century. Although the focus of research has been on objective social roles and health behavior, the brain is the key organ for forming, monitoring, maintaining, repairing, and replacing salutary connections with others. Accordingly, population-based longitudinal research indicates that perceived social isolation (loneliness) is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality independent of objective social isolation and health behavior. Human and animal investigations of neuroendocrine stress mechanisms that may be involved suggest that (a) chronic social isolation increases the activation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical axis, and (b) these effects are more dependent on the disruption of a social bond between a significant pair than objective isolation per se. The relational factors and neuroendocrine, neurobiological, and genetic mechanisms that may contribute to the association between perceived isolation and mortality are reviewed.

Suggested Citation

Cacioppo, John T. and Cacioppo, Stephanie and Capitanio, John P. and Cole, Steven, The Neuroendocrinology of Social Isolation (January 2015). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 66, pp. 733-767, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2547487 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015240

John T. Cacioppo (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Stephanie Cacioppo

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
7733297007 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://hpenlaboratory.uchicago.edu

John P. Capitanio

University of California, Davis - Department of Psychology ( email )

Davis, CA 95616
United States

Steven Cole

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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