Americans Ranked Their Greatest Fears, From Government Corruption To Ghosts

Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Ever wondered if your biggest fear is totally weird, or if everyone around you is terrified of the same thing? New research from Chapman University has shed some light on Americans' deepest fears — and the results may shock you (heh).'Tis the season to be spooky, after all.

Researchers surveyed about 1,500 adults living in the United States, and began by asking about what types (or, as the study calls them, domains) of things frightened them most: Options included crime, man-made disasters, natural disasters, and the participants' personal future. Most responders said man-made disasters were the scariest, but when the survey got more specific in its examples of things to be afraid of, the number-one most frightening thing actually fell into a different category.
More than biowarfare, terrorist attacks, or having their personal information tracked, Americans are freaked out about corruption of government officials — 58% expressed this fear. As everyone's Twitter feeds swirl with news of debates and shade thrown between presidential hopefuls, this might be the most practical fear to have at the moment. Points for maturity, survey participants.

Beyond the top most fears, however, the findings began to drift from the practical to the outlandish, and revealed some of our stranger preoccupations. For example, being raped or murdered by someone you know fell into the bottom 20, while reptiles, by comparison, made it into the top 20, just below nuclear attacks.

Heights and public speaking expectedly made the list, with respectively 27% and 28% of those surveyed citing them as their greatest fear. Real creative, guys. Less than 10% of Americans admitted to fearing ghosts, zombies, and clowns, which is either way too many or not enough.

On a personal note, although these findings are certainly enlightening, my search will have to continue for the community that shares my fear of hyper-intelligent apes.

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