Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gender Differences in Anxiety among Undergraduates from Ten Arab Countries

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gender Differences in Anxiety among Undergraduates from Ten Arab Countries

Article excerpt

This study investigated gender differences in anxiety among volunteer undergraduates recruited from 10 Arab countries; Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Oman, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine (Nablus and Gaza), Jordan and Iraq (N = 3,064). The Kuwait University Anxiety Scale (KUAS) was used in its Arabic form. It was found that females had higher mean anxiety scores than did their male counterparts in all 10 countries. However, significant differences were found in 7 out of the 10 countries. The salient gender differences were interpreted in the light of a socialization process; especially sex-typing and gender roles.

Anxiety is one of the most fundamental of all constructs in psychology. The concept of anxiety is central in conceptualization of psychopathology, motivation, and personality. Thus, there are wide ranges of points of view and perspectives on anxiety; as normal facilitating, pathological debilitating, negative affect, emotional state or reaction, motivation, personality trait, or disorder and syndrome. So, research on anxiety is one of the most active areas in psychology, and it has been the focus of considerable study especially in the last two decades (see, e.g., Cox & Norton, 2000; Cox, Wessel, Norton, Swinson, & Direnfield, 1995; Last, 1993; Norton, Cox, Asmundson, & Maser, 1995; Rapee, 1996; Wolman & Stricker, 1994).

Among the negative emotions, anxiety is the most widely experienced of all. Almost all human beings have recognized, and have experienced, states of anxiety. Notwithstanding the universality of anxiety, the question can be raised as to whether there are cultural differences pertaining to the nature and level of anxiety. Sartorius (1990) stated that "the analysis of the origin of the words used to describe anxiety can help in understanding how the concept is conceived of in different cultures. In ancient Egyptian language, the word for acute fear is composed of two symbols, one indicating narrowness and the other showing a man prostrate, as if dying. The latter is the same symbol used to describe a severely wounded person. In Arabic, anxiety's meanings are similar to the Slavic idioms. There are a variety of words used to suggest a state of anxiety - some referring to restlessness, others to constriction of chest or stomach", (p. 5f).

In the field of anxiety research, the assessment and measurement issues are of major interest (see e.g., Antony, Orsillo, & Roemer, 2001; Maltby, Lewis, & Hill, 2000). In Arabic psychological studies on anxiety, there are two trends. First, a trend towards translating and adapting the Western (mainly American and British) scales and inventories, for example, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory developed by Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, and Jacobs (1983), and adapted by Abdel-Khalek (1989). Second, there has been a trend towards composing and constructing local scales. It is our contention that there is a great need to develop and validate psychological tests in Arabic by Arab-speaking psychologists, with good translations into English to address the growing interest in cross-cultural comparisons, thereby bringing alternative cultural perspectives to scale construction. The Kuwait University Anxiety Scale (KUAS) is one of these.

The KUAS (Abdel-Khalek, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) was developed originally in Arabic and has comparable forms and several results in English (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2002, 2003), Spanish (Abdel-Khalek, Tómas-Sábado, & Gomez-Bénito, in press), and German (Abdel-Khalek, Reschke, Rudwan, & Tanjour, Manuscript submitted for publication). Based on the Arabic version, results are available on college students from specific Arab countries, that is Kuwait (Alansari, 2002, 2004b), Syria (Abdel-Khalek & Rudwan, 2001), Saudi Arabia (Abdel-Khalek & Al-Damaty, 2003), and Lebanon (Abdel-Khalek & El-Yahfoufi, 2004).

The aim of the current investigation was to explore sex-related differences in anxiety as assessed by the KUAS, using undergraduates recruited from 10 Arab countries. …

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