“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.” Aristotle, who was a Greek philosopher in the 3rd century BC, had a close insight of human nature. In the above lines, he has subtly mentioned what we are able to prove today using modern science.
A socially isolated person becomes more aware of the situation and the environment around him. This kicks off the self-preservation mechanism in lonely people who are in a better position to defend themselves than those who are socially active. Stephanie and John Cacioppo are a couple and leading experts in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, their research has been able to prove that loneliness promotes self-preservation.
The couple work as researchers in the University of Chicago and have developed methods to explore the working of the brains of social and unsocial people. They prepared a loneliness questionnaire which was distributed to 38 people who were very lonely, and 32 social people. They also hooked the participants to an array of sensors in order to record their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG). This was done to measure their brain activity and detect any changes over a short period of time.
The tests also included evaluating the reactions of the participants to words that were social and positive and those that were unsocial and negative. The results showed that lonely people showed the same level of reaction to all kinds of words. The test was meant to move quickly so that changes in the meaning of the word would not affect the participants, but it showed that social people reacted substantially to negative and unsocial words. On the other hand, unsocial people were consistent to all the words.
This shows that as humans we thrive on social connections, and when these connections are broken, we become more alert and self-preservation comes naturally to us then.