Contrary to the claim that loneliness routinely impairs the decoding of social cues such as emotion displays, Knowles, Lucas, Baumeister, and Gardner (2015) proposed that lonely adults “choke under pressure,” experiencing impairments only when social monitoring is framed as diagnostic of general social skill. In four experiments, Knowles et al. showed that lonely individuals performed worse than nonlonely individuals at decoding social cues when the decoding task was framed as a test of social aptitude, but not when it was framed as a test of academic aptitude. The studies were small (N's ranging from 78 to 203), and all employed a convenience sample of mostly female undergraduate students, impairing both statistical power and external validity. In addition, the lack of a true control group precluded the studies from establishing whether loneliness inhibits social monitoring ability if no frame is offered. This study conceptually replicates the central hypothesis of Knowles et al. using a sample of adults that is substantially larger and more diverse demographically and geographically, and using a true control group in addition to the comparison group. Results revealed a significant main effect of loneliness on social monitoring ability but did not replicate the choking under pressure phenomenon.
- social monitoring
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies