Why Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health

A conversation with John Cacioppo, author of a new book on the need for social connection.

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People who go to church regularly live longer than nonchurchgoers. Why is that?

Churches can be very beneficial—one can feel connected to the group, the church, and to God. Those are actually different things, but both seem to have beneficial effect. God is like a supercharged friend. You joke about how men soothe their loneliness with computers and women do it with pets. But there is indeed a difference.

We do see a distinction between men and women. Men don't understand their wives' need for girlfriends. On the other hand, as the wife walks out the door to have lunch with her friends, the husband might be watching the football game on TV all by himself. If she asks if he's lonely, he'd say, "No, I'm with my tribe. Go, Bears!"

Updated on 11/14/2008