Scientists have known that on the whole, females of all ages tend to worry more and – and worry more intensely then men, according to LiveScience.com. Additionally, women also tend to perceive more risk in situations and grow more anxious than men, according to the report.
The reason? The researchers say that women are more likely than men to believe that past experiences accurately forecast the future.
The two new studies, involving both 3- to 6-year-olds and adults of both genders, tested the extent to which participants’ thought that worry can be caused by thinking that a past bad event could happen again in the future.
For the first study, subjects listened to six stories that featured characters harmed by another person or animal in the story. Then, days later, that character felt worried or changed their behavior when confronted with the same wrongdoer who had hurt them before. (For example, if one little boy stole a toy from another, the child might be worried when he saw that boy again and hide the new toy he was playing with.)
In the second study, the scenario was repeated – except that the person or animal the character ran across later only looked similar to the one that had harmed them before. Then, at the end of each story, the participants were asked to explain why the character was worried or changed their behavior.
Females, both children and adults, were more likely to use uncertainty to explain the character’s reaction – to explain the reaction in terms of events that might happen, rather than those that will happen. Women were also more likely than men to predict that the characters who encountered the new character who looked similar to the wrongdoer would feel worried because they thought the new character would also do them harm.
The studies, by Kristin Lagattuta of the University of California, Davis, were detailed in the September/October issue of the journal Child Development in the article, “Thinking About the Future Because of the Past: Young Children’s Knowledge About the Causes of Worry and Preventative Decisions.’