In the broadest sense, it is difficult to determine if girls exhibit more anxiety than boys. Taken in a general context, adolescents are highly vulnerable to anxiety due to the developmental stage they are in and the accompanying relational obstacles. But when cultural and social elements are factored in, subtle differences seem to exist in levels of self-esteem and anxiety between adolescent girls and boys. This was the conclusion from a recent study led by Nasreen Bano of the Institute of Clinical Psychology at the University of Karachi in Pakistan. Bano assessed the levels of self-worth as they related to self-esteem and also the levels of anxiety exhibited in a sample of 210 Pakistani teenage students.
The study was conducted to determine if culture and religion affected anxiety and self-esteem. In Pakistan and many other Middle Eastern countries, boys and girls are segregated during school. Often, girls are not encouraged to integrate with the boys and when they do, they struggle with fear or worry about how the interaction will go and how they will be perceived. Also, girls in general are more concerned with physical appearance and relationship outcomes than boys. This puts them at greater risk for anxiety and self-esteem issues.
The results of Bano’s study revealed that there was indeed a difference between the anxiety and self-esteem levels of the boys and girls, with girls exhibiting slightly higher levels of anxiety. Bano said, “One of the reasons behind such findings can be that females are more susceptible to fear of evaluation in social setting that causes anxiety among them.” The variance was not great, however. Bano believes that even these subtle variances could indicate that although much has been done to bolster the value of females across the world, more needs to be done, especially in within certain cultures and religions. Future work should address how these minimal differences in self-esteem and self-evaluation carry forward and impact adult psychological well-being in this population.
Bano, Nasreen, Zaeema R. Ahmad, and Amena Z. Ali. (2013). Relationship of self esteem and social anxiety: A comparative study between male and female adolescents. Pakistan Journal of Clinical Psychology 11.2 (2012): n/a. ProQuest. Web.
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