Halloween is approaching, so a survey assessed what scares the bejesus out of Americans to find that while the top fears are relatively rational, quite a few of them are severely questionable.
- The study inquired over 1,500 adults about 88 different fears from multiple sub-categories
- Fear of a corrupt government won with 58% among the participants
- Gun control was reported among 35%, and global warming ranked to over 30%
- Over half of them admitted to believing the paranormal, including fear of evil spirits, ghosts and zombies
The Chapman University Survey of American Fears has inquired a number of 1,541 adults in the United States upon their greatest fears. They were given multiple choices within a wide list of categories that ranged from man-made disasters, to government and personal anxieties. Perhaps unsurprisingly with the upcoming election year, government corruption won.
Around 58% of Americans have admitted themselves to being “afraid or very afraid” of the possibility of having corrupt government officials. This has topped many other competitors, such as cyber-terrorism, corporate or (again) government tracking of personal information, and bio warfare.
According to lead author of the study, Christopher Bader, it’s because people are generally afraid of future problems that are outside of their control, technology and economy specifically. These are two aspects that the population finds unpredictable at the moment. Meaning that perhaps fear of not knowing should, in fact, rank highest from a more philosophical standpoint.
Moving further down the list, 35% of the participants reported themselves afraid of gun control and Obamacare. And, since environmental issues are often tackled, it seems that awareness has been spreading and 30.7% are fearful of global warming. It’s only hopeful that this terror will be successfully and efficiently used to fight against it, if it’s truly that high on the list.
Technology certainly held a strong place. Robots seem part of our future, but 23.9% generally fear them, 22.2% are afraid of artificial intelligence, and 28.9% are terrified of the fact that they might be replaced in the future. Some jobs might indeed be in peril, but it appears that the worries have already begun. Though with warnings given out by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, it’s perhaps a little harder to blame them.
Interestingly enough, around 40% of the surveyed respondents believe that places can be haunted by evil spirits. Whether it’s the movie industry, imagination, or, who knows, real life experiences, the supernatural did have an odd ranking. Over half of the participants believe in something paranormal, with 9.7% admitting to a fear of ghosts, and 8.5% terrified of zombies.
While not exactly supernatural, 6.8% also reported a fear of clowns.
Personal anxieties, however, seemed promisingly low on the list, with only 4.2% reporting fear of being judged based on how they dress, 4.5% by gender, and 5.9% by age.
However, in an odd twist, what should likely be the most feared aspect of our lives has been relatively neglected: death. The inevitable end that all will encounter stood at 21.9%, ranking lower than fear of reptiles (at 33%) or fear of public speaking (at 28.4%).
So, if you ever heard the expression ‘I would rather die than […]’, it might just be true.
Image source: ucla.edu