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Manchester Institute of Education

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The BBC Loneliness Experiment

The BBC Loneliness Experiment is a national survey led by the BBC and The University of Manchester. Please note that the survey is now closed and the results are being analysed.

What is the Loneliness Experiment?

"We want to know about people’s experiences of loneliness - when does it happen, how intense is it when it happens, and what solutions do people use to overcome it? Also, is there stigma surrounding loneliness? Data from the experiment will enable us to look at the most and the least lonely people in society, and in time, may help us to develop robust ways of supporting people of different ages who feel lonely."

Prof Pamela Qualter / The University of Manchester

The Loneliness Experiment is the largest-ever survey of its kind. It explores attitudes towards, and subjective experiences of, loneliness, and will provide important insights into loneliness across the UK and beyond.

The Loneliness Experiment is led by Claudia Hammond, presenter of BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, and Pamela Qualter, Professor of Education at The University of Manchester, in collaboration with academics from the University of Exeter and Brunel University. The project is funded by The Wellcome Collection.

The survey closed on 12 April 2018, and the results are currently being analysed. They will be announced in autumn 2018 at an event at the Wellcome Collection and broadcast on All in the Mind. There will also be a Radio 4 series, Anatomy of Loneliness, and a set of specially commissioned dramas.

What is being explored?

  • At which times of life are people most likely to feel lonely? 
  • What is the role of friendship?
  • Do an individual’s personality and life circumstances affect their experience of loneliness?
  • How does new technology and social media affect loneliness?
  • How do we view people who are lonely?
  • What solutions have people found useful (or not) when it comes to tackling their loneliness?
  • What is the opposite of loneliness?

Find out more

You can discuss the topic on Twitter using the hashtag #LonelinessExperiment.

If you have any questions, please email