Poor social skills a danger to one’s physical, mental health, study finds


TUCSON, Ariz. — For some, feeling a growing mass of stress weighing on their shoulders may actually be the result of poor social skills, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed 775 American adults, aged 18 to 91, hoping to evaluate the strength of their social skills, along with their levels of stress, loneliness, and physical and mental health.

Person alone in a field
A new study finds that people who lack sound social skills are at a greater risk of suffering from loneliness, high stress, and poorer physical health. (Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash)

Defining social skills as the ability to communicate and interact with others effectively and appropriately, the researchers found that participants who were lacking in one or more related areas reported higher levels of stress and loneliness, which often translated into poorer physical and mental health.

“We’ve known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but we’ve not known definitively that social skills were also predictive of poorer physical health,” says study author Chris Segrin, who heads the university’s Department of Communication, in a news release.

“Two variables— loneliness and stress— appear to be the glue that bind poor social skills to health,” he adds. “People with poor social skills have high levels of stress and loneliness in their lives.”

Stress had long been known as a risk factor for diminished health, but the impact of loneliness on well-being has only come into the spotlight more recently.

“We started realizing about 15 years ago that loneliness is actually a pretty serious risk for health problems,” Segrin explains. “It’s as serious of a risk as smoking, obesity, or eating a high-fat diet with lack of exercise.”

Comparing the health effects of loneliness to that of a constant search for the car keys, Segrin states that lonely people are simply “not finding what they’re looking for, and that stress of frantically searching takes a toll on them.”

While social skills can be improved through interventions, such as therapy and counseling, many don’t realize that they’re lacking in the department, he says.

Future research could look at how a lack of social skills may affect other aspects of one’s health, including the development of chronic illness.

“I want to get the word out about how valuable good communication skills are,” he emphasizes. “They will not just benefit you in your social life but they’ll benefit your physical health.”

The full study was published last month in the journal Health Communication.


  1. 80% of the people are extroverts, 20% are introverts.

    The extrovert has a really hard time understanding, appreciating, or emulating the skillset of the introvert, but the introvert can learn to mimic the extrovert in order to achieve a goal.

    The world has an anti-introvert bias, despite the fact that introverts make significant contributions to civilization.

    1. Introverts are actually a good half of the world’s population. There are calm introverts and anxious introverts. Same with extroverts, calm and anxious extroverts. But if you look at anxious introverts alone, then yes, it may be around 20-25%. I highly recommend the book “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”. Bosses take note! Eliminate required group work ASAP! Bill Gates did his best work/inventions alone in a garage! Bill Gates falls within the calm introvert part of the spectrum.

      1. I’m comfortable with variances in the assessments of the ratio of extroverts to introverts, although I don’t believe they represent at least half of the population in the USA. I don’t know enough about the rest of the world to make a guess.

        FWIW, Bill Gates and Paul Allen worked in the garage in Albuquerque for only a very brief time. And Gates did NOT work alone – he and Allen worked very closely together and collaborated on everything, from even before they founded their firm. Allen came up with the original name, Micro-Soft and it was Allen who introduced Gates to the Altair 8800.

        Both Allen and Gates were living in Boston when they got the contract to write Altair BASIC for MITS in Albuquerque. While Gates and Allen initially worked together in the garage, they quickly outgrew that space as they added technical staff. Within two years they had established an international office in Japan. They relocated to Bellvue, WA in order to recruit more technical staff.

        I would definitely NOT say that “Gates did his best work in the garage.” The best work from Microsoft came long after the firm had relocated.

        Gates was very big on the team approach to work, but with a painful twist.

        I used to call on Microsoft in the mid- to late-1980s to provide tech support for a computer service. While I liked almost all of my customers at the time, I hated going to Microsoft the most because the culture was so extremely competitive and people had a hard time cooperating with each other.

        Gates would assign the same project to competing teams. He would then choose the winning design and the winning team. Members of the losing team would either get split up into other groups or dismissed from Microsoft altogether.

        Because of that extreme degree of competitiveness, people were very tight-lipped about everything. Also, they didn’t know who to trust and who not to trust, as they may be working on several teams & projects at the same time. That attitude spilled over into all aspects of the company, including “back office” areas.

        1. Ugh..you’re arguing over the definition of introversion. Again, check out the book, written by a lawyer who cited valid studies.

          1. Huh? I’m not arguing over the definition of introversion in the least! You completely missed the point of what I wrote.

            If you want to get picky, it’s completely false that Gates worked alone in the garage in Albuquerque or that he did his best work there. That was an absurd and unfounded assertion on your part.

  2. The article says that “many don’t realize that they’re lacking” social skills. I wonder how the study participants were judged to be lacking if many do not know they are lacking. If the study used a subjective measure as the key to the entire study, it may not be a very relevant study – that and a relatively small sample.

  3. Kind of ironic (and sick) that social skills and interaction have dropped considerably since the invention of “social media”

  4. That’s is also why our prisons are filled to capacity.

    Why our high school drop-out rate is so high !

    Why so many females yearn to become single mothers !

    Why so many snow flakes went into melt down with Hillary losing !

    1. Sorry, plenty of criminals are skilled in social interaction. Consider the street-corner drug dealer for example. He can get along very well with his peers.

  5. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Stress, loneliness, and physical and mental health issues leads to poor social skills. Gotta always examine a study before judging it. Imagine a person very stressed at work, working say 80 hours a week to feed his family. I can imagine he’d have poor social skills after a prolonged period of time, especially if his work involves little interaction with people. So I call BS on this study.

    People who are introverted and would rather read a book while sipping some tea instead of partying at a club can be just as happy. Intoverts make this world go round from Bill Gates to Isaac Newton to you name them. Half of this world falls on one of the varying levels of introversion and I think society needs to learn to adapt to people who are content being quiet, calm, and deep thinkers.

    1. Thank you! Finally a comment that makes sense. Another reason is most of the population are just complete idiots and I choose not to associate with them.

      1. I highly recommend the book “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”. I gain much inspiration from it. Western society puts extroversion on a pedestal when half of the population is obviously incompatible with it and it causes issues. Imagine having to do group work when your best work is instead done alone. Thank the extroverted “ideal” for that BS.

  6. That is exactly what is wrong with the millennials right now. They cannot react socially to anyone or anything without the use of the cell phone/electronic device. They spend their whole lives on and involved in the screen and its ability to hide their faces and emotions from actual social contact. That is why they are never without their device and why when it fails or is lost they become mentally distraught an extremely emotionally unbalanced, without being able to hide their physical self they fall apart. Only through the use of their device can they successfully communicate and relate to others. As anyone with children in the age group knows , these people are total failures with out their devices and they do not know how to help or redirect them to a normal life. Really sad.

  7. The bill for the stress-related illnesses due to virtue signaling, social justice warrioring, and recreational protesting should be interesting. Maybe they were looking down the road as they demanded that the rest of us provide them with overpriced and low-quality health insurance.

    Not the sharpest knives…

  8. This coming from the useless leftist University of Arizona. Thanks to Captain Obvious from the U of A, we now know what we have all known.

  9. Millennials growing up with smart phones and Facebook and Snapchat for their communication is only going to hurt them long term. I have a friend who has owned a job recruiting business for nearly 20 years. He has seen the transition first hand from where we went from the internet and email in the mid-90s to today where every one communicates via social media and how it affects social skills. Specifically social skills with regards to handling oneself in a stressful interview process and interaction with co-workers.

    I can remember back in 1994 as a freshly minted college grad when the company I was working for at the time had recently gotten online with the internet and email. It wasn’t long after before households got on the internet and email. Psychologists in the ’90s were saying everyone communicating via email instead of phone or in person was not good for their social skills. Well, back then, we still used actual land line telephones for communication and later mobile phones. There was no social media/texting back then which is draining not only the social skills of people (especially among the young), but causing stress and unhappiness, both of which are known to degrade health.

    What stress and unhappiness? The stress and unhappiness of say a friend on Facebook posting pictures and videos of her awesome $5,500 Disney cruise vacation when her friend can’t afford to do the same. Women are much more prone to trying to one-up the other on Facebook than men are. Be it trying to host the best birthday party for a kid or showing off that vacation. Social media has become a pariah on society.

    TL/DR – Social media is the root cause of the increase in decreased public social skills.

  10. This is why you never read the comments following an article linked on Drudge. They’re the verbal equivalent of zoo monkeys flinging feces at each other. Drudgeistas never change.

    1. so, you’re still in mommy’s basement are you? ab hawahwawhawhwah, ah leftists… if they can’t find their group think groupies… they throw a fit.

    2. Translation: I have no intellectual retort to anyone’s comments, so I’m going to go kick sand and have a hissy fit like a typical leftist. And you leftists wonder why we make fun of you idiots.

    3. Dementiacrats are profane, hateful, dogmatic, arrogant, vengeful, unethical, intolerant, devious, hypocritical, corrupt, and often violent.

        1. Not a Christian; atheist.

          If you want examples of why those adjectives apply to Dementiacrats, just ask – but I’m sure that if you had a gram of integrity, you’d see proof on your own.

  11. remember… one very important social skill is self realization. If you don’t want to behave “appropriately” with certain people you find objectionable… you need not force yourself to do so.

  12. Question is why they haven’t developed “social skills”. The answer is they live among their enemies and have given up on socialist animals. Living with mentally ill a55holes who think they’re awesome is not conducive to social development of real humans.

  13. We’ve always had great social skills — especially with pudgy Jewish interns. (If ya know what ah mean…heh, heh, heh. ;>)

  14. or..perhaps the danger comes from intolerant leftist democrats who brow beat anyone who doesn’t conform to their radicalized unnatural platform of bigotry, hate, and deceit.

  15. Perhaps poor social skills explains the violence and hate in our society.

    So Senator Paul was attacked by a hate mongering anti-Trump DEMOCRAT only a few months after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise four other Republican congressmen were shot by a hate mongering Bernie Sanders DEMOCRAT?

    And now 46 human beings, including several children, were shot and 26 killed by an atheist DEMOCRAT during a church service in Texas? Is it any wonder that this same moral code allows DEMOCRATS to support AND promote partial “birth” baby murder by the millions so that the black population can be kept in check? Is it really a surprise that the only surviving political party left on Earth that supported slavery now actively supports infanticide, genocide and the violence necessary to carry it out?

    1. It’s possible that Progressives were produced at an early age. This predisposition to exhibit a need to control everything around them is Anal in nature, therefore I submit that Progressives are produced by bad toilet training.

      Observations of the Physiological makeup of the extreme left

      Psycho Mommy micromanaged the little darlings In their infant years, in effect producing the anal retentive personality type. We need to understand that the only thing the little beast can control is its bowl movements, they hold it so long that they have a blowout. Now herein lies the problem… the little future Progressive becomes somewhat weird over time because mommy now makes a habit of sticking a cork in the little future Progressive’s a–z… this is where we first notice that odd “Dear in the Headlights” look that is characteristic of these people. However, remember that mommy is also the great cork remover… which if done at the wrong time will lead to a sh–t war in the kitchen. Moving on to adulthood we find we can keep these progressive sh–t war artists at bay by wearing a cork on string around your neck… they cower like a vampire confronted with a Holy Cross… quite amusing actually. So now as adults they hate God for allowing mommy to put that cork in their a—z. As a result they seek to control every aspect of our lives with a metaphorical cork out of revenge. Now if we analyze the relationship to Obama, we see that Obama had become the great cork remover… now they seek another cork remover, it’s all about the cork.

      1. I can’t decide if Jim Thompson’s response is the most concise but bizarrely worded political analysis of an article dealing with a social/psychological health issue, or the most brilliant piece of satire I’ve ever read. Regardless, as soon as I’m finished with my morning bottle of wine, the cork will be dedicated to a string tied around my neck just to be safe.

        “It’s all about the cork.”

      2. When I analyze the progressive mindset, without fail they are all sexual deviants who are steeped in covert hostility: They writhe in secret hate against anything moral or decent
        and wash away their sins with a moral relativity that we are soulless temporal beings who should live a life of reckless abandon: A fortuitous collision of chemicals who live only for the moment. Their sexuality is a frantic game of chasing their own tails; pushing the envelope of insatiable lust to every new level of disgust: Today’s new kick is yesterday’s news. Time for another one. They are all politically subversive and communistic – worshipping a hive mentality where the individual is nothing; the collectivity is all. Individual rights and non-conformity are brutally repressed. The individual is nothing.

        These are not the kinds of people you want in charge of your life. But this is the freak
        show of the left. Since their impulse is to destroy, they are the fodder of every police states: Why? Because it gives them license to do what they please in violation of the mores of society – with the attack dog of central government to support them: But this is only a temporary phase. They are never happy people who would rest on their laurels. They soon become bored. In the absence of a worthy opponent they turn on each other; and the communist cell devours itself. These people are the cesspit of humanity. When they finally put a dictatorship in power they’ll be shot in ditches and stacked like cordwood; because there’s one thing their worker’s paradise will never have room for: …A counterrevolutionary.

    2. Or just BEING AROUND people with no social skills is detrimental to one’s health. I can certainly be the cranky one in the family but I generally get more out of people around me with better social skills than emulating R. Lee Emery.

      Where did it all begin? Absentee parents starting in the 70s when both had to work to make ends meet and keep up with the Joneses? Materialism taking its just toll on our society? The sins of the fathers and mothers rained upon the second and third generations. The Bible is full of wisdom that’s best not to be ignored. This is what conservatives hold to – things and philosophies that have proven themselves over the ages rather than liberals that preach “do as you please” to the great unwashed.

    3. I think you’ve “got it”… democrat progressives have systematically degraded this country through the education system, as well as diminished the value of human life through the ruse of presenting Planned Parenthood as a proponent of “women’s health”.

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