Gender and Worry

A number of studies have examined the contribution of gender to the experience of worry. On balance, the consensus seems to be that girls worry more than boys. For instance, Bell-Dolan et al. (1990) found that almost 20% of never-psychiatrically ill 5-18 year old females reported 'excessive worry' in an interview, compared to 8% of boys.

Similarly, in their larger study (193 children, aged 8-13 years), Muris et al. (1998) found that girls worried significantly more than boys. Kaufman et al. (1993) studied adolescents attending hospital for minor physical concerns, and reported that females endorsed more worries on a checklist than males.

However, in a study measuring a number of aspects of worry, and including a number of domains of worries, Suarez and Bell-Dolan (2001) reported that the only realm in which early adolescent females were found to score higher than their male counterparts was in worry in response to threatening and everyday events.

Unfortunately, from most of the studies, it is not clear whether females worry more frequently than males, or have a wider range of concerns about which they worry, or simply worry more intensively about their concerns. However, Silverman et al. (1995) found that 7-12 year old females reported more worries than their male counterparts, but did not report that these worries were more frequent or more intense. In contrast, comparing a clinically anxious sample, and children with no diagnosis, Perrin and Last (1997) found no gender differences in either number or severity of worries.

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