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Home > Research Articles > Men Less Stressed Than Women ; Both Sexes Find Fewer Worries After Turning 60

Chicago Sun-Times

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Men Less Stressed Than Women ; Both Sexes Find Fewer Worries After Turning 60 Chicago Sun-Times - August 29, 2002

Working men and women have comparable work stress, but men are far less likely than women to feel emotional strain from problems of relatives and friends, said University of Arizona psychologist David Almeida, who'll report his findings at the American Psychological Association meeting at McCormick Place

"Women's roles have changed," said Almeida. "Men's haven't."

The new findings are part of a national research project on adult well-being supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health. Researchers phoned 1,031 Americans, asking about what caused them stress, their mood and physical symptoms.

From kids faltering at school to in-laws needing a hand or friends' marriages collapsing, "Women's hassles revolve around other people; men's do not," Almeida said the researchers found.

Men told of problems centering mainly on their jobs. They reported being more stressed out than women by such "technical breakdowns" as computer troubles, as well as mistakes on the job, though the sexes are equally likely to feel overload at work.

Women's need to cram too much into each day might be stoking their stress. Other new research shows women have 30 minutes less free time a day than men, compared with no leisure gap between the sexes in 1965 and 1975. Parents, particularly mothers, have the least free time, said University of Pennsylvania sociologist Liana Sayer, who did the time study.

Society wouldn't be better off if women lowered their stress levels by imitating men, said psychologist Abigail Stewart, an associate dean at the University of Michigan. She's directing a National Science Foundation project on how women in science are faring. "Women are doing a lot of invisible work that's essential to human existence," said Stewart, who had just taken her elderly mother to get hearing aids. "We think of stress as only negative, but it reflects active, challenged lives . . . It's just that men need to do more relating to people and sharing the load."

Other findings from Almeida's study:

*From 25 to 59 years old, women reported stress on 44 percent of days vs. 39 percent for men.

*From age 60 to 74, women had stress on 32 percent of days; men, 25 percent.

*Adults under 40 were most likely to feel strain from arguments and interpersonal tensions.

*Midlifers had the most tension about money--not the lack of it, but concerns over how to use what they have.

*The older adults coped better with stress, not allowing it to sour mood or provoke physical symptoms.

Gannett News Service (C) 2002 Chicago Sun-Times. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved