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DISTINGUISHED PSYCHOLOGIST JOHN T. CACIOPPO TO PRESENT LECTURE ON “THE ANATOMY OF LONELINESS” AT BARD COLLEGE Lecture Is First Annual Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture

Mark Primoff
845-758-7412
primoff@bard.edu
10-25-2003

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – On Saturday, October 25, Bard College will inaugurate the annual Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture Series with a presentation by renowned psychologist John T. Cacioppo, “The Anatomy of Loneliness.” The lecture, which begins at 4:15 p.m. in Olin Hall on the Bard College campus, is free and open to the public.

Cacioppo is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is director of the social psychology program at the University of Chicago and codirector of the Institute for Mind and Biology. Before coming to Chicago, Cacioppo served on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame (1977-79), University of Iowa (1979-89), and Ohio State University (1989-99).

While loneliness is one of the most commonly experienced emotions, society has a limited understanding of its complex personal and social causes and its often debilitating anatomical affects. One of Cacioppo’s areas of research concerns how relationships “get under the skin” to affect one’s social cognition and emotions, personality processes, biology, and health. Studies have revealed that loneliness is a major risk factor for psychological disturbances and for broad-based morbidity and mortality, yet the behavioral, psychological, and biological mechanisms are not well understood. An analysis of the literature on social support and physiology reveals that feelings of social isolation in adults are related to elevated blood pressure and other physical symptoms. In follow-up studies of loneliness in young adults, Cacioppo and his colleagues found that individuals who were chronically lonely were characterized by chemical changes indicating physical stress.

The researchers also found that while loneliness was unrelated to health behaviors (e.g., smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption), it was related to behavioral styles associated with cardiovascular disease (e.g., hostility, pessimism, insecure attachments, and interactions with others) and sleep problems. Importantly, an experimental study in which loneliness was manipulated suggested that people’s views of their social relationships, rather than individual differences per se, were underlying these effects.

In exploring this important field, Cacioppo takes a “social neuroscience” approach to his research. traditionally, he writes, social and biological approaches to human behavior have been contrasted, as if the two were antagonistic or mutually exclusive. But according to Cacioppo, the mechanisms underlying human behavior are not fully explainable by biological or social approaches alone.

The annual Andrew J. Bernstein ’68 Memorial Lecture Series is generously supported through an endowment from Sybil Bernstein.

For information call 845-758-6822.

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This event was last updated on 10-27-2003