A recent study has revealed Americans’ number one fear and the results are nothing short of fascinating, as they show unusual phobias, while more predictable ones are conspicuously missing.
Researchers from Chapman University analyzed the opinions of 1,541 adult Americans, through a survey administered by GFK (Knowledge Networks) between May 16, 2015 and May 25, 2015.
Respondents were questioned about 88 potential fears, concerning crime, sickness, aging, health, the future, the environment, the government, technology, natural and man-made disasters, and more quirky fears like clowns or zombies.
They were asked to select one of the following reaction categories: “very afraid”, “afraid”, “slightly afraid” and “not afraid”. Data was aggregated into 5 categories: domains of fear, personal fears, paranormal fears, acting out of fear and natural disasters. Eventually, the results were published in the Chapman University Survey of American Fears.
With reference to domains of fear, it was determined that respondents dread terrorism and other man-made disasters the most, while apprehensions regarding technology and the government are ranked second and third.
As far as personal fears are concerned, it appears that U.S. citizens are especially frightened of corruption among government officials. A staggering 58% of the respondents expressed worries regarding unethical behavior that their leaders might be engaged in.
The second-most terrifying thing for Americans was cyber-terrorism, which 44.8% of the participants considered a significant threat in their lives. Completing the trifecta was corporate tracking of personal information, which was disconcerting for around 44.6% of those surveyed.
Surprisingly, terrorist attacks were ranked just 4th in the list, being feared by 44.4% of the respondents, and they were followed by anxiety regarding government tracking of personal information (41.4%).
40.9% of the participants dreaded the possibility of bio-warfare, 39.6% of them found the idea of identity theft unsettling, while 39.2% felt apprehension at the possibility of economic collapse.
Number 9th in the top 10 list was the possibility of running out of money in the future (37.4%), while the last fear included in the ranking was credit card fraud (36.9% of those surveyed).
On the other hand, more respondents dreaded reptiles (33%) and public speaking (28.4%) than death (21.9%). Robots were also a source of terror among some individuals, 28.9% of the respondents worrying androids would replace them at work, and 22.% feeling anxious about artificial intelligence.
Overall, it appears that in 2015 people feel particularly vulnerable to financial difficulties, as well as to the idea of being monitored from the shadows by “big brother”.
“People often fear what they cannot control. Technology and the future of our economy are two aspects of life that Americans find very unpredictable at the moment”, explained study leader Christopher Bader.
Closely related to this were paranormal fears, which were more common than expected, being experienced by half of the respondents. Around 40% believed ghost-haunted houses exist, a quarter thought that psychic mediums can communicate with the dead and 8.5% feared zombies.
Also, about a fifth were of the opinion that dreams foretell the future, and a similar number insisted aliens had already visited Earth. Paranormal predilections were especially common among respondents from the Northeast, that are non-white, female, unmarried, Catholic and without college degree.
When it came to actions motivated by fear, researchers discovered that almost a quarter of the participants offered their vote to a candidate dreading another outcome, 16.7% installed a home alarm, and more than 10% bought a gun. Another decision driven by fear was sending kids to private school (5.4%).
As far as disasters were concerned, it was determined that more than half of the participants were apprehensive about such events, but at the same time they were grossly unprepared. 72% of them admitted they hadn’t planned an emergency kit, although 86% realized its importance.
They justified this carelessness mostly by claiming unrealistically that first respondents would immediately come to their rescue anyway. Other pretexts were lack of time or money, insufficient experience regarding making such a kit and unwillingness to think about calamities.
Image Source: Pixabay