The Existential Anxiety Scale Test

29 11 2007

I find Existentialism fascinating. Of course that makes me a huge nerd but so what? You’re the ones who keep visiting to see what I have to say so that makes me better than you. Know your role. Anyway, what I really love about this test is how it relates so perfectly to today’s stress-fueled world. In particular take a close look at the update at the end of the results.

4 = Angst

How do you compare?
Score Percentile
0 15
2 30
5 50
8 70
10 85

The theoric constructs behind this scale and the interpretation i made of it are biased towards existential philosophy and psychology, school of thought to which i personally ascribe, understanding roughly for this the existential belief that human beings are alone in the world. This aloneness leads to feelings of meaninglessness which can be overcome only by creating one’s own values and meanings. We have the power to create because we have the freedom to choose. In making our own choices we assume full responsibility for the results and blame no one but ourselves if the result is less than what was desired.

Existential anxiety has to do with the big questions of life, its meaning and which is our place in it; to the Doctors Good and Good, existential anxiety is about despair, alienation, and emptiness, and there are people who suffer from such feelings, it certainly can be a problem for some of them.
While, as you can see from the norms, the average score on the existential anxiety scale was only 5, but the authors reported that in their sample of 200 people, some scores were as high as 26.

In the past the world was a relatively predictable place. People grew up in stable families, and they had a fairly clear sense of what their roles in the world and society would be. Now we live in a changing world, and a world in which every generation have less common principles to embrace, long have been gone the flower children, the excess of the 80’s, and the already cynical “generation X” from the 90’s. Is this sustained and rapid change in society plus the emergent and evergrowing consumerism that try to cope with the lack of certitude that have made difficult for people to know which is their place in the world, and understand how they fit in.

Existential anxiety can be triggered by abrupt life changes, like the death of someone close to us (persons who have made of being a parent the main reason and sense of their life and then suddenly lose a child), the loss of the self image (for example have made a very important part of our identity our job and suddenly lose it, being the best student and drop our grades, or build our sense of self worth around our physical beauty and see it diminish); in all of these cases besides the obvious pain and inherent difficulties implied in all of these losses, there is a sense of loss of our place in the world.

This scale was constructed for research purpose only and not for clinical diagnosis, if you feel like existential angst is getting the best of you please by all means seek professional help, selfawareness, responsibility and contemplation are healthy and positive, endogenous or severe depression are not, this is not a depression scale, and not every existentialist is depressive, but many depressive people lean towards a quite high score in existentialist anxiety, so if you got a high score in this test take a good look at yourself, the only person who knows how much of this is because you are a highly intellectual and/or cynical but happy person, and how much of this is because you might be suffering of a condition that cause you suffering and can be treated quite effectively if you give yourself the chance of get help, is ultimately, you.

Bottom line: be yourself, live for yourself, be your own person and remember that the control over your own life is ultimately yours, sure being ultimately alone doesnt sound as the most cheery thought, but looking at it the other way around, it also means that you are completely free for build for yourself the life that you want to live, and if you feel like somebody’s puppet, is only because you are allowing it yourself. “stick and stones may break my bones but ….” 😉

p.s: to those curious souls who are wondering how i did in this scale, i scored 4 = Angst.

UPDATE: the sample in which the table of scores was based was taken in the 70’s, with the stats that okcupid allow me to access I can’t build a new score/percentile table, but it seems the tendency of our new generation of young adults is to score much higher in existential anxiety than what the previous generation scored in that time, I think (and this is just an asumption, dont have enough information to be certain) that this tendency will go increasing, being paired with a more educated population, but the fact that studying a career doesn’t guarantee anymore finding a job in the same field, an easier access to information, and therefore more chances to develop awareness and a critical point of view about the state of affairs.

Link: The Existential Anxiety Scale Test written by FloresDelMal on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

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15 responses

29 11 2007
Stella Devine

Crikey! I got 26. The existentialism part doesn’t surprise me, but the angst? I don’t think I really suffer angst all that much. I’m quite zen about the fact that life has no purpose and we are all alone. In fact, it helps me get through the day.

30 11 2007
Jayne d'Arcy

I didn’t really want to take this, but I did. I got a 15. I think one way this test is flawed is that it appears to refer to a wider sphere of influence. In my case, if you’re not interacting with people face-to-face on a daily basis (work, gym, whatever), your world is much smaller. Thus, when I answered the questions taking into account my own, small world, my score was lower. If I answered the questions in relation to my world when I was still working, my score was higher.

30 11 2007
Mr President

There are definitely a fair few flaws in it. Interesting nonetheless I felt.

1 12 2007
Eric Fry

31…I whooped you all!

1 12 2007
Mr President

That’s a lot of angst. Talk about an early heart attack waiting to happen.

12 11 2009

I got 30. damn.

7 05 2010

I got 12. Sigh.
In an unrelated issue: some of the questions could have been re-worded using “conscious language” to bring clarity.
For instance:
Question 15:
I do not feel that life is meaningless.

Could have been restated for greater clarity as the following:
I feel life has meaning.

28 08 2010

where can i get a copy of this instrument?

9 12 2010
Michael A. Hullett

The Existential Anxiety Scale (EAS) was written in the 70s by a husband wife team, both psychologists and was validated (found to measure what it purported to measure in 1990 by researcher Michael A. Hullett, MA. The instrument presented on OKCupid was altered to by deleting some items, therefore invalidating that version of the instrument for research or clinical use. You can do a google search and read or download the full research article published in ERIC by using search words such as “Michael A. Hullett, A Validation Study of the Existential Anxiety Scale.

9 12 2010
Michael A. Hullett

A Validation Study of the Existential Anxiety Scale, published in ERIC. Author: Michael A. Hullett

25 12 2010
26 11 2011

28 angst for me. I still don’t understand

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