Alone Again, Naturally

Is your best friend…a volleyball named Wilson?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Existential isolation is the feeling that there’s an uncomfortable gap between you and other people. Turns out, men experience existential isolation more than women. But why?

Alyssa Croft at the University of Arizona wondered. She surveyed over two hundred undergraduates. As expected, men felt more existentially isolated than the women. But most men also identified with rugged characteristics like assertiveness and independence. Meanwhile, most women held communal values, like kindness and warmth.

Could these different values explain WHY men tend to feel more isolated?

To find out, Croft then compared men and women who shared the same values. Rugged women versus rugged men, affectionate guys versus affectionate gals. When she split the data this way, the gender difference disappeared! Men who valued warmth and kindness were no more isolated than women with the same values.

Could changing your mindset from macho to mellow help you get over those existential blues? Future research will tell.

Till then, at least I can depend on Wilson… Wilson? WILSON??!!