Anxiety and Stress among American, Chinese, Italian, and Russian Emerging Adults: Does Uncertainty Avoidance Matter?
Levels of anxiety and stress vary throughout life span and across cultures. Uncertainty appears particularly relevant during emerging adulthood, thus potentially affecting both stress and anxiety. Uncertainty as a construct was identified by Hofstede (i.e., Uncertainty Avoidance Index, UAI), who defined it as the extent to which members of a culture feels threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and tends to avoid them. The UAI was considered as a means to understand cultures in addition to the "classic" distinction between collectivist and individualistic cultures. The present study compared levels of anxiety and stress in 1,790 university students (18-21 years old) from two individualistic (the US and Italy) and two collectivistic (China and Russia) coun-tries, with a consideration of country UAI levels. Results showed that country-level UAI scores were associated with both levels of anxiety and stress, controlling for age and sex. Italian and Russian students reported greater anxiety than American and Chinese ones. Chinese emerging adults reported the lowest stress levels, followed by American, Italian, and Russian students. Study findings provide initial evidence that anxiety and stress in emerging adults are associated with how culture deals with perceived instability and uncertainty about the future.