Exploring Existential Anxiety among Indian Youth: Prevalence and Gender Differences
Background: Existential anxiety (EA) refers to the feeling of uncertainty regarding life and its meaning. It is gaining increasing attention on social media in the form of existential humour. The present study aimed to explore the prevalence of EA among Indian youth and gender differences among those experiencing EA.
Method: The sample consisted of 30 males and 39 females (N = 69) falling in the age range of 17-29 years. The quantitative tool used was the Existential Concerns Questionnaire. For the qualitative aspect, three open-ended questions were given at the end of the scale.
Result: Upon analysing the quantitative data, it was found that there existed no significant differences (p = 0.24) between the EA levels of males (M = 52.53, SD = 16.73; moderate) and females (M = 56.97, SD = 14.20; moderate). Thematic network analysis of the qualitative data revealed common themes amongst the genders (uncertainty, negative emotions, competition/ success, meaning-making, social media, and life events). The only theme that was present among females was that of social pressures.
Conclusion: There is a medium-low EA prevalence rate among the participants. Furthermore, major gender differences don’t seem to exist in the experience of such anxiety, barring the theme of social pressures which affects the females.
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