The researchers of this study aimed to identify the language differentially associated with loneliness and depression using Facebook posts from over 2,900 individuals. They analyzed both dictionary-based and open-vocabulary linguistic features, finding that loneliness and depression have highly overlapping language profiles, including sickness, pain, and negative emotions as risk factors, and social relationships and activities as protective factors.
The researchers also found that the language associated with loneliness reflects a stronger cognitive focus, including more references to cognitive processes and activities like reading and writing. In contrast, less lonely individuals were more likely to reference social relationships and use first-person plural pronouns. These findings suggest interventions for loneliness that target maladaptive social cognitions, strengthen social relationships, and treat other affective distress. This study provides important insights into the mechanisms of loneliness and depression and offers practical strategies for addressing these issues.