Personality, loneliness and mental health in a Nigerian sample of university students

  • Chinedu Ugwu
  • Kalu T. U. Ogba
  • Sampson Kelechi Nwonyi
  • Patience N. Ugwuegede
  • Steven Kator Iorfa


Loneliness in young adults has been shown to have effects on social withdrawal, lack of self-confidence, inability to take control of any situation and the inability to make or sustain meaningful relationships. In more severe cases, loneliness has been linked to depression, aggression and hostility. These negative attributes could have implications across other areas of students’ life such as motivation, academic performance, suicidal ideation and well-being. Personality also may influence students’ mental health status. However, loneliness and personality have not been examined simultaneously in relation to mental health in a Nigerian population. The present study screened for levels of loneliness among a sample of university undergraduates (n = 360, 50% males). The associations of personality, loneliness and mental health were examined. A self-report questionnaire form incorporating the Mental Health Inventory -18, the Ten-Item Personality Inventory, and the UCLA Loneliness Scale was used in data collection. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed perfect fit indices for the three scales among the present sample. It was observed that loneliness was negatively associated with mental health. Agreeableness and neuroticism were also significantly associated with mental health. This associations still held even after controlling for gender and age. The study underscores the relevance of social relationships and personality in mental health interventions.