Exploring the association between obsessive-compulsive symptoms and loneliness: Consideration of specificity and gender

Kiara R Timpano, Demet Çek, Liza M. Rubenstein, Dennis Murphy, Norman B. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Loneliness, or perceived social isolation, is associated with a range of adverse physical and emotional outcomes. In particular, feeling lonely has been linked with anxiety, anger, stress, and depressive symptoms. Although loneliness has been extensively investigated with respect to depression and social anxiety, few studies have considered the relationship between loneliness and obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS). Loneliness may be particularly relevant to OCS given the social stigma associated with obsessions and compulsions along with high comorbidity between OCS and depression. The overarching aim of this investigation was to examine the relationship between OCS and loneliness in a young adult sample (N 5 395) recruited from a large university. Participants completed self-report measures of OCS, loneliness, depression, and social anxiety. Higher levels of OCS were associated with greater perceived loneliness, and this relationship remained significant despite controlling for depression and social anxiety. OCS had a significant association with the isolation facet of loneliness, and loneliness in turn was uniquely associated with obsessions and checking symptoms. Gender differences were examined, which indicated that females with high OCS endorsed the greatest levels of loneliness. Implications for clinical research and treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Gender
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Obsessive-compulsive symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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