Monday, September 12, 2011

Social and specific fears in young Israeli soldiers

In my continuing quest for surveys including the fear of public speaking, I tried widening the search to include the term “social phobia.” I found two articles with data about a sample of Israeli soldiers. They were 850 students (535 men and 315 women) in either the Mechanics School or the Military Medicine School. Those in the sample had an average age of 19 years, and an average of 12 years of education. The first article is “Social phobia symptoms: prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and overlap with specific phobia symptoms.” You can read the abstract here.

As shown above, the article reports results on severe anxiety for all 24 items in a  Hebrew language version of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. Click on the chart for a more legible version. The category including giving a talk in front of an audience was feared by the most people, 14.2%, followed by giving a report to a group, with 13.2%. Trying to pick up someone was third, at 11.2%. Dating is scary!

In their discussion they pointed out that the sample was not quite like general public in that age group. Not all Israelis are conscripted, and anxious females tend to wind up as clerks. Nevertheless, the sample is similar in age and education to the surveys of US, Swedish, and Indian college students I have discussed previously.

The second article is “Prevalence of self-reported specific phobia symptoms in an Israeli sample of young conscripts.” You can read the abstract here. Animals were feared by the most people, followed by a cluster of four fears held by fairly similar percentages (15.8 to 18%): heights, being alone, injury, and closed places. Last was a cluster of three fears held by 6.3 to 8.2%: storms, flying, and water.   

The survey of US college students by Seim and Spates had separate percentages for specific fears of spiders, snakes, rats, and insects, while the Israeli survey combined them under animals.

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