Public invited to take part in national loneliness survey

A new survey about people’s experiences of loneliness launches today on BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

The Loneliness Experiment is an online survey which will explore the nation’s attitudes and personal experiences. It aims to find out the factors that contribute to loneliness, the role of relationships, connection and social media, and what has aided recovery or improvements to wellbeing.

The survey has been developed by academics at The University of Manchester, Brunel University and the University of Exeter, with the aid of a grant from Wellcome, in the hope it will increase understanding of one of the major issues facing society today.

In 2015, 18,000 people took part in the Radio 4 and Wellcome Collection’s Rest Test which explored the nation’s resting habits. With thousands of people expected to complete the Loneliness Experiment, it is likely to be the largest survey of its kind, providing important insights into subjective experiences of loneliness across the UK and beyond.

The survey will explore areas such as:

  • At which times of life are people most likely to feel lonely?
  • What is the role of friendship?
  • Do an individual’s personality and life circumstances affect their experience of loneliness?
  • How does new technology and social media affect loneliness?
  • How do we view people who are lonely?
  • What solutions have people found useful (or not) when it comes to tackling their loneliness?
  • What is the opposite of loneliness?

People are invited to take part, whether they have experienced loneliness or not. The aim of the project is to increase understanding around prevention, as well as examining the solutions people have found most useful.

The survey takes less than 40 minutes to complete, and those who participate will be able to see instant feedback online, tracking some of the results so far.

The University of Manchester’s Professor Pamela Qualter, who is leading the project, said: “We want to know about people’s experiences of loneliness – when does it happen, how intense is it when it happens, and what solutions do people use to overcome it? Also, is there stigma surrounding loneliness? Data from the experiment will enable us to look at the most and the least lonely people in society, and in time, may help us to develop robust ways of supporting people of different ages who feel lonely.”

Claudia Hammond, presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind explains: “We’ve heard a lot about loneliness in the news recently with the Jo Cox Commission and the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness. It’s clear that loneliness has been brought into focus, but there’s a lot that is still unknown about it. We want as many people as possible to take part in the Loneliness Experiment to help discover not only who is likely to feel lonely, but what it is that can propel people out of it and help them feel more connected to others.”

The results will be analysed and announced in the autumn at an event in the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection, and broadcast on All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4. There will also be a Radio 4 series Anatomy of Loneliness and a set of specially commissioned dramas.

The Loneliness Experiment launched Valentine’s day, Wednesday 14th February. For more information, and to take part visit