Towards a Global Index of Social Connection
TWCF Number
Project Duration
July 8 / 2024
- July 7 / 2026
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
Amount Awarded

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Hans IJzerman
Institution Annecy Behavioral Science Lab

Miguel Silan
Institution Annecy Behavioral Science Lab

A project from Hans Ijzerman at Annecy Behavioral Science Lab aims to lay the cornerstone for the inaugural iteration of a Global Index of Social Connection.  This work will focus on including the Global South, which has been underrepresented in social connection research. To bolster the Index's development and widespread adoption, this project will form an advisory committee with members from the World Health Organization (WHO)Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection (GILC).  

A universal global index is important because it would provide a concerted method for understanding whether social needs are fulfilled and a tool for comparing and learning universally.

Institutions such as WHO, OECD, and the European Union designate the global measurement of social connection as high priority. The profound impact of social connection on health, mortality, and overall life satisfaction has earned a prime position in national health strategies worldwide. Yet, the pursuit of crafting a universal index is laden with challenges, most notably in measurement quality. Current tools tend to muddle distinct theoretical constructs, operate without the guidance of a robust theoretical framework, and bear inherent bias, often tailored to specific demographics.

To address this gap, the project team will conduct a mixed-methods study. They plan to:

  • Conduct in-depth interviews with 250 participants from Brazil, Zimbabwe, India, Philippines, and Morocco to capture within- and across-country variations in social connection. 
  • Create an item pool by collecting contributions from researchers in 50 culturally-varied countries, refining it through collective expertise, and reducing it to 10 items per dimension. The GILC will be asked to translate the reduced item database.
  • Administer psychometric evaluations on the refined subset within five representative cultural datasets.

Once the Global Index and its evaluation report are complete, a scale manual will be composed for broader stakeholders, including WHO and OECD.

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