The Sunday Magazine

Pioneering psychologist John Cacioppo linked loneliness to health and longevity

John Cacioppo was among the first social scientists to link chronic loneliness to premature death. He died last month.
Studies say loneliness can have a negative impact on your health. (Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr)

Loneliness is one of the essential and most painful parts of the human condition. It has an impact on our physical and mental health. Extreme loneliness is twice as damaging to life expectancy as obesity, and it increases the odds of an early death by 20 per cent.

A lot of what we know about loneliness is thanks to the late John Cacioppo. When he died last month, he was the director of the University of Chicago's Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.

Dr. Cacioppo wrote and co-wrote dozens of landmark studies on the subject, including Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connections.

He spoke with Michael Enright in 2014.

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview.