Questions for Loneliness can breed disease


Before reading

1. When socializing, what activities do you like to share with friends?

2. What feelings do you experience while socializing?

During reading

1.   What does it mean to be a “social animal?”

2.   Why is it useful to study hunter-gathers such as the !Kung?

3.   How does living in a tight-knit community benefit the !Kung?

4.   Define “chronic” loneliness.

5.   What do persistent loneliness, cigarettes, alcohol and obesity all share in common?

6.   What data do the story offer to suggest loneliness is common?

7.   Why would chronic loneliness be common among some gay men?

8.   What effect did loneliness have on the longevity of gay men infected with HIV?

9.   List two reasons why weak social networks may shorten someone’s lifespan.

10. Why isn’t frequent stress healthy?

After reading

1.   What role do stress hormones play in the body?

2.   The immune systems of lonely people are particularly primed to fight off infections caused by bacteria, but not by viruses. Explain why this is a concern.


1.    Read the explainer accompanying this article. Working with a partner, pick one of the tips and design an activity to promote more positive interactions among your classmates. Present your activity to your class, and explain how it could reduce feelings of loneliness.