Will the sex difference in the general factor of anxiety be of the same magnitude as the sex difference in anxiety?

In personality research, it is well documented that women are more anxious than men. (On average. Overlapping Bell curves, yadda yadda, d~0.4 or so.) This probably isn't surprising to you, since the effect is big enough that it should be noticeable in your personal life.

I think people commonly interpret this fact as meaning that women are higher in what I'd call the "general factor of anxiety" than men. That is, across a wide variety of unrelated situations, women would find things more worrying than men.

However, personality measures of anxiety are not really designed to measure the general factor of anxiety. Instead e.g. NEO-IPIP 's Anxiety scale just asks questions roughly synonymous with "How anxious are you?" over and over again.

There are some cases where it would seem like women face anxiety-worthy things that men don't face as much. For instance women are surrounded by people who are much bigger and stronger than them and could totally beat them in a fight. And women face certain sorts of gender norms that men don't have (though men may face other gender norms so YMMV), e.g. women may be judged more than men by how good they look or how messy their home is. These sorts of factors could cause women to specifically be worried about these problems while not necessarily being extra worried about random things more generally.

This could probably be assessed in many ways, but one way that will be considered sufficient for this question is using standard survey methods. It should be possible to design an anxiety test that asks about specific kinds of anxiety (e.g. "Do you feel afraid of big angry-looking men with tattoos?"). If someone designs a test like this which mainly focuses on factors where neither men nor women have special reasons to be anxious (such that it would presumably assess sex differences in general anxiety), and finds that the sex difference on the general factor of society is at least 75% of the overall sex difference in anxiety (as measured by Cohen's d), this question resolves YES. If they find it to be less than 75% of the overall sex difference in anxiety, this question resolves NO.

The question might also resolve based on other things, but I consider it unlikely. The question will not resolve based on some galaxybrained indirect strategy. I will likely run the study described in the resolution criteria at some point.

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Informal poll: Consider the following things that one could be anxious, fearful or otherwise upset about:

  1. That one's house is clean and orderly enough when the family visits

  2. Drunks in public

  3. Whether you are a bad person if you harm animals

  4. Getting work done that you have been procrastinating on

  5. Children's safety

  6. Spiders

  7. One's health, or one's family's health (possibly this should be distinguished into two, idk)

  8. Forgetting things when packing for a trip

  9. Crime

  10. Family judging one's lifestyle

  11. Finding the right direction when going places

  12. Whether people who are late have been in e.g. a car accident

  13. People getting revenge after school/work conflicts

  14. Giving speeches at birthdays or weddings

  15. Fixing plumbing at home

  16. Taking an exam or getting interviewed (again, should this be distinguished into two? idk)

  17. Getting reprimanded at work

  18. Getting vaccinated

  19. One's country getting involved in a war

  20. Hurting one's friends' feelings

  21. The far future

  22. Travel delays

  23. Whether one is skilled enough for work

  24. Getting cheated on by one's romantic partner

  25. Inflation

  26. Being secretly disliked by one's friends

  27. Whether one looks good enough (in terms of appearance)

  28. Dealing with one's gear getting dirty on a vacation

  29. Saying wrong/embarrassing things to strangers

  30. Breaking one's cups or plates

  31. Interruptions in one's work routine

  32. Getting caught violating the rules at work

  33. Catching an illness

  34. Societal elites don't care about people like you

  35. Dealing with bureaucratic errors

  36. Bad weather

  37. Getting lost

  38. The risk that planned events (e.g. restaurant visits) become impossible (e.g. due to the restaurant being full)

  39. Going to the doctor

  40. Talking on the telephone

  41. Personal financial situation

  42. Getting fired

  43. Getting cancelled

  44. Being in a car when someone else is driving

  45. Harmful additives in food

  46. Asking restaurant staff for changes in meals

  47. Being at big parties

  48. Sex

  49. One's family being too isolated and lacking support from each other

  50. Having to deal with someone who is upset and worried

Which of these seem "biased" towards women being more anxious than they really are? Which ones seem "biased" towards men being more anxious than they really are? Which ones seem "unbiased"?

@tailcalled Biased towards women being more anxious than they really are: 2, 5 somewhat, I guess 47, maybe 48.

Biased towards men being more anxious than they really are: 19.

3 seems more about guilt/morality/compassion so I'd consider not using it in the main analysis.

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