My UCLA Loneliness Scale score

In the early days of writing Lonely, my agent said that I should take the UCLA Loneliness Scale every month or so, and see how my scores turned out. For those who have Lonely, the Scale is reproduced in the book’s introductory pages; for those who don’t have Lonely, the Scale is a test developed by the psychologist Dan Russell to assess how lonely someone might be. The test includes questions such as “How often do you feel starved for company?”, and a final score can range from 10 to 40, with a score of 25 or higher indicating real difficulty with loneliness.

I never followed up on my agent’s suggestion. I grew so familiar with the UCLA Loneliness Scale when writing Lonely that I effectively stopped seeing it. But, feeling lonely here in Newfoundland, I decided to sit down and take it once more. My score today was 30, which reflects, according to Russell, “a very high level of loneliness.”

A reader of Lonely once flamed me (is that what the cool kids say?) for writing a book about loneliness and still being lonely. He wanted, I guess, to hear about loneliness from someone who had totally mastered the state. I think there are some strategies you can bring to bear on loneliness (I’m going to post a lecture by a British researcher on this topic soon), but I’ll say in advance to anyone interested in Lonely that loneliness is still a problem in my life.

I could blog about this for pages and pages, but the very nature of blog posts means I’ll have to wrap this up shortly. I want to do more thinking about the persistence of loneliness in my life: I think it’s really complex and significant. And I’m going to follow my agent’s advice and take the UCLA Loneliness Scale every month, to see if I can spot ebbs and flows in my score. Readers of Lonely might want to do the same, to see whether their score remains static, or whether it dips and rises in response to life events. This won’t solve the problem of loneliness, but it will provide more information about a state that can seem so maddeningly hard to pin down.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at 2:22 pm and is filed under the category Dealing with Loneliness, Long-term Loneliness.

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13 Responses to “My UCLA Loneliness Scale score”

  1. notabozo said:

    Hello Emily,

    This is a good idea and will lead to more documentation from your readers and another strategy of finding some solutions. Who knows maybe a “pill” will be developed to “connect” to a gene. The more people talk truthfully about a problem and document we will find the solution. Sometimes I forget to write in my journal but I do go over my journal and highlight any words like lonely, despair, depression and note the date and time of year. Emily, you have recognized and given a voice so other people will be able to accept, agree or fight the situation.

    I feel that people should offer their family members and close friend(s) to read this book and become aware of this “problem”.


  2. For me, loneliness is part of who I am, not sure if it will ever go away. There are times, like today that I love being alone and I don’t feel lonely at all. Other times (that seem to coincide with my monthly cycle) I can feel such despair that it’s impossible to remember days like today.
    What seems to work for me, since reading the book is simply to own being lonely. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to actually have a word for what I feel and to know that it is actually a “condition” shared by millions like myself.
    I am not alone, although I am lonely ;0)

  3. anony-mouse said:

    I got a score of 30 – like you Emily. I checked “sometimes” for most of the questions, 1 “never” and 2 “always”.

    Unfortunately I don’t see my score going down much, if at all.

  4. I am going to purchase your book. I remember reading the review of it in PEOPLE. But put in on the back burner of things to do as life got in the way.

    I feel like “bablylon sister” in that I do enjoy being alone often too. But the loneliness I feel seems to weigh upon me heavily at time. So I took this test and scored 38. Not really surprised at that. Even during the height of my career and success, I felt alone many times. Now I feel alone in my marriage and my family.

    I figured there was always something wrong with me…you know perhaps my “wiring” wasn’t quite right…. especially since I was a successful professional in the social work field, but couldn’t understand my own inner “demon of lonliness.” I used to say to myself “I’m friends with many, but have no friends.” So…I am looking forward to reading the book and the possibilities of learning more about me and my lonliness.

  5. Julie said:

    Hi Emily:

    I just started reading your book but I’m already shocked by the similarities I see in my life. I’m even an American re-planted in Canada.

    On my good days, I believe lonliness is a gift. My life-long condition pushes me to reach out. Sometimes I connect and sometimes I don’t. However, the risk seems worth when I reach out and expose my heart with other lonely people that get it.

    Thank you for being brave and writing this book.

  6. Alone in a room full of people said:

    I read the comment about feeling “alone in my marriage and in my family” that’s exactly how I feel. I feel great love for my husband and family but I feel like they are in some club I don’t belong to. I really enjoyed the book but I do wish there was more about that type of lonliness. You can find a life partner that you love deeply but still feel lonely.

  7. Hi Emily, I scored very high on the test. I wasn’t surprised at all.
    There are times a like being alone. There are times I don’t. I need balance. I’m married and I love my wife. We have a good relationship and she has many friends. Yet I feel very lonely. Like alone said in the her post. I also feel my wife is in some club I don’t belong to.

  8. It shouldn’t be so hard for you to find other people to alleviate your loneliness; you are a personable and accomplished woman.

    I’m wondering if some part of you, unconsciously or consciously, is in pursuit of loneliness.

    Or you simply cannot find people with whom you resonate.

  9. seems there’s two flavors of the UCLA “version 3″ Loneliness Scale test… one with only 10 questions, and one with 20 (10 questions worded in a negative manner, thus the score of those questions are interpreted backwards)…

    ….i found an online interactive version of the 10-question variety, and got a score of 35, which we know on a scale from 10 to 40 is pretty lonely (strangely, question 1 was my only “never” and most everything else was “often”)

    By the way, I really must thank you for the broadcast you participated in recently on AARP Prime Time radio… It really opened my eyes to recognizing my problem, and now I can start fighting the currents in this choppy sea of loneliness. I’m planning on purchasing your book as soon as I can find it at my local bookstore

  10. Hi Emily:

    I read your book (on amazon Kindle) and thank you for it. I would like to deal with my loneliness and was wondering if you’ve come across a psychology practice that you feel has proper tools and a framework for dealing with this issue ? I know I have to do my own homework, but finding folks that understand the issue is the key search criteria. Thx

  11. @ Paul: I wish there was something I could recommend, but treatments for loneliness are thin on the ground. I found it beneficial to connect with a therapist who really understood loneliness (not all do). I’m not sure where you’re writing from (and that’s fine), but there are some loneliness treatment programs available in Europe, based on work done by Dr. Nan Stevens. These programs are normally run as “friendship enhancement” type workshops, and are offered by community groups. I wish you luck!

  12. I am so confused. You say that a score over 25 is severe lonliness. I just did the test and I got a 57 and when they say you need to reverse your score that its the correct way. So I did that and I got a 43. What in the world?

  13. @W8: There are two UCLA Scales. One goes up to 80, the other to 40. You are probably using the 80 scale.

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