Among University Students the Response to Stressors Caused by the Global Pandemic Differs Between Men and Women

Group of students hanging out on campus together while wearing reusable face masks to protect from the transfer of germs.
While the global pandemic is obviously stressful for everyone, the impact of factors related to the family unit and other protective psychosocial factors that could produce resilient or psychopathological results in college students has not been sufficiently assessed nor differentiated by gender.

Men and women responded differently to the stressors caused by the global coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, in which women were moderately more resilient compared with men. These findings were published in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences.

Researchers from the University of Cordoba and the University of Jaen in Spain surveyed Spanish university students aged 18 to 38 years (N=699) online between April 22 and May 2020. Participants were assessed for socio-demographic information, by the Hospital, Anxiety, and Depression (HAD-14), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale-10 (CD-RISC10), and the General Self-Efficacy Scale-GSE.

Participants were aged mean 27.7912.68 years and 57.51% were women. The distress, anxiety, and depression scores were reported as 1.618, 1.527, and 1.892, respectively.

Psychosocial protective variables accounted for 28.6% of the general distress variance (R2, .286; F[3,250], 34.717; P <.001) followed by depression (28.3%; R2, .283; F[2,251], 50.853; P <.001), and anxiety (18.9%; R2, .620; F[3,250], 20.597; P <.001).

Separating the respondents by gender, women scored higher on the distress (1.804 vs 1.599), anxiety (1.784 vs 1.500) and depression (1.871 vs 1.824) subscales.

Among women, the general COVID-19-related distress included the psychological protective variable of resilience (24.6%; R2, .246; F[2,124], 21.530; P <.001) and self-efficacy accounted for 20% of the model (R2, .200; F[3,123], 11.478; P <.001). Depressive symptoms contributed 21.4% of the variance (R2, .214; F[2,124], 18.147; P <.001).

Women who lived with essential workers reported significantly higher levels of resilience (tCDRISC[125], 2.218; P <.05) and general self-efficacy (tGSE[125], 2.415; P <.05).

Among men, resilience accounted for 28.4% (R2, .284; F[1,125], 50.958; P <.001) and self-efficacy 15.6% (R2, .156; F[2,124], 24.278; P <.001). Symptoms of anxiety (15.6%; R2, .156; F[2,124], 24.278; P <.001) and depression (34.4%; R2, .344; F[2,124], 34.081; P <.001) contributed to the variance.

The major limitation of this study was the cross-sectional design, which did not allow for making causal relationships between variables, as well as the environment of the COVID-19 pandemic making more long-term assessments difficult.

These data indicated that men and women responded to the stressors caused by the pandemic and quarantine differently. Women seemed to be more resilient and self-efficacious especially when living with an essential worker. Long-term studies are needed for assessing lasting psychological consequences of the current global crisis.


Sánchez-Teruel D, Robles-Bello MA, Naranjo NV. Do psychological strengths protect college students confined by COVID-19 to emotional distress? The role of gender [published online November 9, 2020]. Pers Individ Dif. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2020.110507