An investigation of gender differences in social phobia

J Anxiety Disord. 1998 May-Jun;12(3):209-23. doi: 10.1016/s0887-6185(98)00010-3.


The present study was an exploratory investigation of gender differences in a large sample of persons with social phobia. Potential differences in demographic characteristics, comorbidity, severity of fear, and situations feared were examined. No differences were found on history of social phobia, social phobia subtype, or comorbidity of additional anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or avoidant personality disorder. However, women exhibited more severe social fears as indexed by several assessment instruments. Some differences between men and women also emerged in their report of severity of fear in specific situations. Women reported significantly greater fear than men while talking to authority, acting/performing/giving a talk in front of an audience, working while being observed, entering a room when others are already seated, being the center of attention, speaking up at a meeting, expressing disagreement or disapproval to people they do not know very well, giving a report to a group, and giving a party. Men reported significantly more fear than women regarding urinating in public bathrooms and returning goods to a store. Additionally, there were some differences in the proportion of men and women reporting fear in different situations. Specifically, more women than men reported fear of going to a party, and more men than women reported fear of urinating in a public restroom. Gender differences among patients with social phobia are discussed in the context of traditional sex-role expectations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Human Activities / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / complications
  • Phobic Disorders / classification*
  • Phobic Disorders / complications
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*