Memories of rejection contribute to feeling lonely. However, high-quality listening that conveys well-meaning attention and understanding when speakers discuss social rejection may help them to reconnect. Speakers may experience less loneliness because they feel close and connected (relatedness) to the listener and because listening supports self-congruent expression (autonomy). Five experiments (total N = 1,643) manipulated listening during visualized (Studies 1, 4, 5) and actual (Studies 2, 3) conversations. We used different methods (video vignettes; in-person; computer-mediated; recall; written scenarios) to compare high-quality with regular (all studies) and poor (Study 1) listening. Findings across studies showed that high-quality listening reduced speakers’ state loneliness after they shared past experiences of social rejection. Parallel mediation analyses indicated that both feeling related to the listener and autonomy satisfaction (particularly its self-congruence component; Study 5) mediated the effect of listening on loneliness. These results provide novel insights into the hitherto unexplored effect of listening on state loneliness.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by Grant 1235/21 from the Israel Science Foundation to G.I. Additional support was received from the European Research Council: Grant SOAR-859810 to N.W.
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
- interpersonal listening
- social influence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology