Background Anxiety sensitivity can be defined as fear of anxiety based on belief that anxiety does devastating physical, psychological and social damage. Behaviour difficulties refer to the following areas: lack of attention and concentration with joint behaviour consequences, risky behaviours and low levels of social skills which result in impaired peer relations. The aim of this study is to determine gender and age differences in anxiety sensitivity and behaviour difficulties in adolescents.
Methods A non-clinical sample included 305 adolescents of both sexes, aged 12 to 16. The Serbian version of Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index (CASI, Stevanovic et al ., 2013) and the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, Goodman 1997) were applied. The data were analysed with Multivariate Analysis of Variance.
Results Significant main effects of gender (F = 8.777; p < 0.01) and age (F = 3.092; p < 0.01), as well as an interaction effect of these two factors (F = 3.043; p < 0.05) were found. Girls show higher levels of social concerns, unsteady concerns and disease concerns, while risky behaviours and peer problems are more prevalent in boys. Results also show that risky behaviours in age-group 14 and up are less prevalent in boys, and more prevalent in girls.
Conclusion This study shows that girls have a higher anxiety sensitivity level, while boys exhibit more behaviour difficulties, which the authors of the study speculate is the result of cultural differences and gender based expectations. Results also show that social concern and peer problems depend on age.
- Anxiety sensitivity
- behaviour difficulties