Is 2.08 Really the Loneliest Number? Sociologist Casts Doubt on a Study

In the summer of 2006, several major news outlets gave prominent coverage to a sociological study with a grim message: Americans’ social isolation had increased radically since the 1980s. Whereas in 1985 Americans reported that, on average, they had 2.94 friends or family members with whom they could discuss important matters, by 2004 that number had dropped to 2.08. A quarter of Americans had no close confidants at all.

Those findings were startling to the study’s