Females are more anxious than males: a metacognitive perspective

Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2011 Fall;5(2):83-90.


Objective: Previous studies have suggested that anxiety disorders are more prevalent among women than men. The purpose of this study was to compare the metacognitive perspective of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in females with males.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted on the high school girls and boys who have been affected by GAD. The sample consisted of 100 high school students (50 boys and 50 girls) selected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GADS) and semi-structured interview. They filled the Metacognitive Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ), and Anxiety Thoughts Inventory (AnTI).

Results: Significant differences were observed between girls and boys in anxiety thoughts (health anxiety, social anxiety, and meta-worry). Anxiety thoughts affect girls more than boys; they have more metacognitive beliefs about uncontrollability of worry and believe that worry must be avoided. On the other hand, positive beliefs in worry are more common in girls and punishment and meta-worry are being implemented as control strategies in girls more than boys.

Conclusion: Metacognitive beliefs in uncontrollability, advantages and avoidance of worry may contribute to the higher prevalence of anxiety in females than males.

Keywords: Anxiety Thoughts Inventory (AnTI); Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD); Metacognitive Thought Control (MTC); Worry.