Low self-control: A hidden cause of loneliness?

Olga Stavrova*, Dongning Ren, Tila Pronk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Loneliness has been associated with multiple negative outcomes. But what contributes to loneliness in the first place? Drawing from the literature on the importance of self-regulatory ability for successful social functioning, the present research explored the role of low self-control as a factor leading to loneliness. A set of four studies (and three additional studies in Supplementary Online Materials) using cross-sectional, experimental, daily diary, and experience sampling methods showed that lower self-control is associated with higher loneliness at both trait and state levels. Why does low self-control contribute to loneliness? Self-control failures that have negative implications for others lead to higher risks for being ostracized by others, which predicts increased feelings of loneliness over time. These results suggest that low self-control, which is often associated with negative intrapersonal outcomes, can have important interpersonal consequences by evoking ostracism, and consequently, loneliness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-362
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • self-control
  • loneliness
  • ostracism
  • social exclusion
  • daily diary
  • experience sampling


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