The purpose of this paper is to understand the influence of change in loneliness on the experience of depression among the students in a business school in India. Building on the literature, the authors argued the dynamic nature of loneliness and depression and subsequently explored the linkage between change in loneliness and associated change in the experience of depression. Further, the purpose is also to explore whether such linkage depends on individual personality factors.
The present study is part of a bigger study that employed a longitudinal survey design. Data were collected in two phases with a six-month time lag between the phases. Data were initially collected in July 2014, and again with all measures repeated in January, 2015. Data were collected from two sections from the undergraduate program participants at one of the reputed institutions in India. Demographic variables such as gender, number of siblings, and family type (nuclear family or joint family) were collected. The authors controlled for age and qualification as all the students have the same qualification and almost all of them were in the same age group. All these variables were controlled due to their probable interference with the proposed theoretical model.
The findings reveal a significant role of loneliness on experience of depression and a moderating role of personality on the relationship. The linkage between change in loneliness and change in depression was found to be higher among those people who were high on extraversion. The findings clearly indicate that the impact of loneliness will be more as the need for attachment is high for individuals having higher extraversion.
Further research may explore the role of neuroticism in the link between loneliness and depression.
The findings of this longitudinal study are very relevant for all the professional groups in the college/university setting. It is important for students as well as college authorities to understand the dynamic nature and relationship of loneliness and depression, as well as the role of personality factors. Routine monitoring as well as various educational programs may be included as regular components of campus culture. Even curriculum can also be fine-tuned. Various programs can be designed to improve interpersonal skills, cognitive understanding, and resolution of aversive emotions, as these college going students or buddying managers are more receptive to intervention programs.
The paper clearly reflects its originality. It adds value in the form of contribution to theoretical development as well as to various college authorities to handle students emotions effectively.