Original Research

The applicability of the UCLA loneliness scale in South Africa: Factor structure and dimensionality

Tyrone B. Pretorius
African Journal of Psychological Assessment | Vol 4 | a63 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajopa.v4i0.63 | © 2022 Tyrone B. Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 June 2021 | Published: 10 January 2022

About the author(s)

Tyrone B. Pretorius, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

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This study examines the generalisability of the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale Version 3 (UCLA-LS3) in a South African sample of young adults. In particular, it examined the normative data, reliability, and factor structure of this scale. The participants were young adults (N = 337) who were randomly sampled from a university population and they responded to the UCLA Loneliness Scale. It was found that the sample had higher loneliness scores than those reported in the literature, potentially suggesting that loneliness may be a significant mental health concern amongst this group. Women reported higher levels of loneliness than men. Reliability analysis (Cronbach’s alpha) and analysis of the influence of individual items on the mean, variance, and alpha demonstrated that UCLA-LS3 had highly satisfactory internal consistency in the sample. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to test four conceptualisations of the factor structure of UCLA-LS3: a one-factor model, a correlated three-factor model, a bifactor model with two subscales, and a bifactor model with three subscales. Notably, CFA demonstrated that the two bifactor models are a better fit than the one-factor and correlated three-factor models and that the bifactor model with three subscales is marginally a better fit than the bifactor model with two subscales. Ancillary bifactor analysis confirmed the dimensionality of the scale as sufficient variance was accounted for by the three subscales, after the variance attributable to the total scale was partitioned out. Therefore, UCLA-LS3 is best conceptualised as comprising of three subscales (isolation, relational connectedness, collective connectedness), in addition to a total scale.


bifactor; COVID-19; loneliness; UCLA-LS3; reliability; South Africa


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