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Cross-Cultural Approach to Anxiety Disorders

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In his theory of anxiety disorders, Eysenck (1997) argued that focus on one's own behavior is associated with social phobia, whereas focus on future-oriented threat cognitions is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. These foci occur in part because social phobics tend to be introverted and obsessive-compulsives either perceive themselves as having onerous responsibilities or actually do have them (e.g., women with infants). These assumptions have empirical support (Eysenck).

We can use the theory to predict cross-cultural differences in anxiety disorders. Social phobia should be more common in introverted cultures. We correlated lifetime incidence of social phobia (data: Wittchen & Fehm, 2001) with extraversion (data: Steel & Ones, 2002) across several countries, obtaining the predicted negative correlation (-0.35). We will expand the database to establish definitively the strength of this association. We will also explore the prediction that people in individualistic countries (emphasizing personal responsibility) have a higher incidence of obsessive-compulsive disorder than those in collectivistic countries, a prediction receiving preliminary support (e.g., Essau, Sakano, Ishikawa, & Sasagawa, 2004).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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