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Strizhitskaya O. Y., Murtazina I. R., Babakova L. V., Alexandrova N. C. Representations of Loneliness in Russia and Bulgaria (the Case Study of Students). Izvestiya of Saratov University. Educational Acmeology. Developmental Psychology, 2020, vol. 9, iss. 4, pp. 367-376. DOI:

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Representations of Loneliness in Russia and Bulgaria (the Case Study of Students)


Loneliness is one of the fundamental problems of modern people. However, loneliness is traditionally associated with negative expressions and characteristics, at the same time it may also have a resource function. The relevance of the study is associated with its focus on the multifaceted understanding of loneliness and identification of its resource mechanisms. The purpose of the study presented in the article is to compare the idea of loneliness among Russian and Bulgarian students. An assumption was made: firstly, there is much in common between two countries, which makes it possible to expect a common value-semantic field, and secondly, despite the semantic similarity of ideas about loneliness, expressiveness of its individual parameters will vary. The study was carried out on a sample (N = 442) of Russian (n = 229) and Bulgarian (n = 213) students aged 17 to 27 years old (M = 20.8 years, SD = 1.64; 359 women and 83 men), living in St. Petersburg (the Russian Federation), Sofia and Plovdiv (Bulgaria). All respondents were asked the question: “What does loneliness mean to you?”. The written answers were analyzed using the method of content analysis, followed by calculating the frequency of occurrence of the semantic group and subgroups, and performing a comparative analysis (Fisher angular transformation). It was noted that the answers of both Bulgarian and Russian students lie in approximately the same semantic field. It was demonstrated that in both groups both positive and negative characteristics of loneliness were present. We established that Russian students more often mention the positive properties of loneliness. They interpret loneliness more often through the opportunities that it gives them. Bulgarian students often mention negative aspects; they express more fear related to loneliness. Similar results confirm our hypothesis about the general semantic field, and, at the same time, demonstrate particular nature of ideas about loneliness in these two groups. The results can be used to develop programs aimed both at reducing negative impact of loneliness, and on development of its resource functions.

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