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实验发现的孤独真相—五个让人吃惊的结果

更新时间:2018-10-23 18:01:05 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The surprising truth about loneliness
实验发现的孤独真相—五个让人吃惊的结果

1. Younger people feel lonelier than older people

1. 年轻人比老年人更孤独

When you picture someone who’s lonely, the stereotype is often an older person who lives alone and hardly sees anyone. Indeed, in the BBC Loneliness Experiment, 27% of over 75s said they often or very often feel lonely. This is higher than in some surveys, but because the survey was online we had a self-selecting sample and might have attracted more people who feel lonely.

一说到孤独的人,我们脑海中浮现的往往是独居老人,无人问津。在BBC孤独实验中也确实如此,75岁以上的人中有27%说他们经常或总是感到孤独。这个比例比其他一些调查高,因为这是在线调查,受访者都是自愿参加,可能孤独人士更多。

Yet the differences between age groups are striking. Levels of loneliness were actually highest among 16-24 year olds, with 40% saying they often or very often feel lonely.

不同年龄段孤独感差别很大。其中最强烈的是16到24岁的人,有40%说经常或总是感到孤独。

This begs the question of why so many young people say they feel lonely. Perhaps they are more prepared to admit to feelings of loneliness than older people who might feel they need to stress their independence. But it was noticeable that when everyone was asked at which point in their life they’d felt lonely, even retrospectively the most common answer people gave was when they were young adults.

为何有这么多年轻人感到孤独?也许是他们更愿意承认孤独,年长些的可能觉得需要表现得很独立。但值得注意的是,当问到在人生哪个阶段感到孤独时,即便是年长者,回忆起来答得最多的还是青壮年时期。

So it’s not necessarily modern life that’s making young people feel lonelier, but factors associated with being young itself. Although we might think of the ages of 16-24 as a time of new freedom to have fun, leaving school and having more control over your life, it’s also a time of transition – moving away from home, starting college, starting a new job – all of which take you away from the friends you’ve grown up with. At the same time people are trying to work out who they are and where they fit into the world.

所以,让年轻人更感孤独的可能不是现代生活,而是年轻本身。我们也许认为16到24岁正是自由自在享受人生的阶段,刚离开学校,更能主宰自己的生活,但这也是个过渡时期——离开家、上大学、开始新工作,都会离开从小一起长大的朋友。同时年轻人也在努力弄清楚自己是谁,找到自己在社会中的定位。

In addition to this, people aren’t accustomed to these feelings of loneliness and haven’t yet had the experience to know that they often pass, or to the chance to find ways to cope with those feelings, such as distracting themselves or looking for company.

此外,年轻人还没有习惯孤独的感觉,还不知道它终将过去,或者还没有应对办法,比如转移注意力或找寻陪伴。

2. 41% of people think loneliness can be positive

2. 41%的人认为孤独有积极作用

This finding fits in with the ideas of people such as the late neuroscientist John Cacioppo, who believed that we evolved to experience loneliness because it can be useful, even though it’s so unpleasant. Humans have survived through forming co-operative groups. If people feel they are excluded from a group then feelings of loneliness might drive them to connect with people, finding new friends or rekindling old relationships.

这一发现与已故神经学家卡乔波(John Cacioppo)等人的观点一致,他们认为孤独是人类进化的产物,虽不愉快,但可能有用。人类通过团队合作才存活下来,如果感到遭到了团队的排斥,孤独感可能会驱使他们与人联系,找寻新朋友或重拾旧情谊。

The problem is that it can become chronic, with a serious impact on well-being and maybe even on health. This animation, which we published at the start of the project, explains more:

问题是孤独感可能变成长期的,会严重影响个人幸福,甚至健康。下面这则动画是我们在实验开始时发布的,会有更详尽的解释:

Feelings of chronic loneliness are associated with an increased risk of depression a year later. It was striking that in the survey, although 41% of all the participants said loneliness could be positive, this rate dropped to 31% in those who told us they often feel lonely. Loneliness can be so miserable and distressing, that when it’s long-lasting it can be hard to see any positive side.

如果长期感到孤独,一年后会增加抑郁风险。虽然参与者中有41%的人认为孤独能有积极作用,但在经常感到孤独的人中仅有31%支持这一说法。孤独也会非常痛苦难受,如果持续时间很长,也就没什么好处了。

3. People who feel lonely have social skills that are no better or worse than average

3. 孤独的人社交技能并不差

Sometimes it’s assumed that people feel lonely because they’ve found it hard to make friends and help with improving social skills would make a difference. This isn’t what we found. A key element of social interaction is the ability to tell what other people are feeling, so that you can adjust your responses accordingly. Perhaps they’re worried about something or you’ve accidentally offended them.

有时我们认为孤独的人是因为交友困难,提升社交技能会有所帮助。但我们发现并非如此。社交的要素之一就是体会别人的感受,并随之调整自己的反应,也许对方有所担忧或者你不经意间冒犯了他们。

One way of measuring this skill is to give people a series of full faces or even just pairs of eyes to assess how good they are at working out which emotion people are experiencing. There was no difference between the average scores of the people who often felt lonely and the people who didn’t.  There were differences in scores on neuroticism, so perhaps it’s the anxiety provoked by social situations that can make them harder to cope with if you feel lonely, rather than social skills.

要想知道对他人情绪的感受程度如何,一个衡量方法是通过看人脸,或者只看双眼来判断对方的情绪。经常感到孤独的人和其他人在感受他人情绪方面的平均得分差不多,但神经敏感程度不同。孤独的人可能不是社交技能差,而是难以应对社交场合中的焦虑。

4. Winter is no lonelier than any other time of year

4. 冬天不比其他季节孤独

In the run-up to Christmas, you often see campaigns from charities who help the elderly featuring picture of isolated old people. It’s a day of the year that’s all about gathering with your loved ones to celebrate, so the idea of facing the day alone is something a lot of people would dread. British comedian Sarah Millican runs a very successful #joinin campaign on Twitter on Christmas Day so that people who feel lonely can chat to each other. And if you live in the northern hemisphere then Christmas also falls in the middle of winter when days are shortest and people stay in more, leaving you even more isolated if you feel lonely.

快到圣诞节时,慈善机构的助老活动经常会用孤寡老人的图片。圣诞节就是要和爱的人聚在一起庆祝,因此许多人害怕一个人过。英国喜剧演员米利肯(Sarah Millican)圣诞节那天在推特上成功举办了一场“加入”活动,让孤独的人可以一起聊天。如果你生活在北半球,圣诞节正好是在冬季,白天最短,人们在室内待得更多,如果孤独就会觉得更加孤单。

But we found that for many who feel lonely, winter is no worse than any other time of year. We asked people to tell us the time of year and the time of day when they felt loneliest. More than two thirds of people said winter was no lonelier than any other time of year. The minority of people who did say one particular time of year is lonelier chose winter, but a few even chose summer. At Christmas, many people go to great lengths to ensure that everyone is included, inviting friends over if they know they might be alone. But in summer if everyone else goes on holiday, you might be the one feeling left behind. So perhaps we should start wondering whether other people might be lonely all year round, instead of just at Christmas.

但我们发现,对许多孤独的人来说,冬天并没有更严重。我们询问了人们在一年和一天之中什么时候最孤独,超过三分之二的都说冬天并不比其他季节严重。少数人说他们的确会在一年中的某个时间更孤独,有些人说是冬天,甚至还有人说是夏天。圣诞节时,很多人大费周章,保证照顾到每个人,邀请可能会孤独的朋友。但在夏天,如果人人都去度假了,你就可能感到被落下。所以我们一年四季都该想想别人是不是孤独,而不仅仅是圣诞节的时候。

5. People who often feel lonely have higher levels of empathy than everyone else

5. 常感孤独的人更有同理心

In the survey two kinds of empathy were measured. One was empathy for people’s physical pain – how sorry you feel for someone who has accidentally slammed their hand in a door, picked up a scalding frying pan or been stung by a wasp. The other was how much empathy you have for other people’s social pain – for someone who’s been bullied at school, not invited to a party or dumped by their partner.

调查包括了两种同理心。一种是对生理疼痛,譬如别人不小心被门夹到了手,被热锅烫到或被蜜蜂蜇伤等。另一种是社会疼痛,包括在学校遭到霸凌,没被邀请参加派对或被分手了等等。

There was no difference in empathy for physical pain between the people who felt more or less lonely. But the people who said they often or very often felt lonely scored higher on average for empathy for social pain. Maybe because they have experienced for themselves what it feels like to be left out, they empathise more with other people who find themselves in the same situation.

无论孤独感多强,人们对生理疼痛的同理心并没有差别。但经常或总是感到孤独的人总体上对社会疼痛的同理心更强,可能是因为他们亲身体会过被屏蔽在外的感觉,对相同处境的人更有同理心。

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