America's Top 10 Fears

While nearly a decade ago, Americans celebrated the arrival of "hope and change", since then "hope" (not to mention "change") has been all but eradicated (if only for the vast majority of the population), and has been replaced with an emotion that is its polar opposite. Fear.

Fear of government corruption (which we were delighted to find in the top spot), fear of terrorist attacks, fear of the NSA, fear of ID theft, fear of cyberterrorists, and even fear of economic collapse... all the way in 8th place.

And yes, "fear of clowns" is in there too.

In an attempt to quantify these fears, the Chapman University Survey of American Fears provides an unprecedented look into the fears of average Americans.

In April of 2015, a random sample of 1,541 adults from across the United States were asked their level of fear about eighty-eight different fears across a huge variety of topics ranging from crime, the government, disasters, personal anxieties, technology and many others.

Domains of Fear

There were 10 major “domains” of fear addressed by the survey, including:

Fear DomainTypes of Questions Included
CrimeMurder, rape, theft, burglary, fraud, identity theft
Daily LifeRomantic rejection, ridicule, talking to strangers
EnvironmentGlobal warming, overpopulation, pollution
GovernmentGovernment corruption, Obamacare, drones, gun control, immigration issues
Judgment of othersAppearance, weight, age, race
Man-Made DisastersBio-warfare, terrorism, nuclear attacks
Natural DisastersEarthquakes, droughts, floods, hurricanes
Personal AnxietiesTight spaces, public speaking, clowns, vaccines
Personal FutureDying, illness, running out of money, unemployment
TechnologyArtificial intelligence, robots, cyber-terrorism

 

Top Fear Domains, 2015

Each fear question asks Americans to rate their level of fear on a scale ranging from 1 (not afraid) to 4 (very afraid). The average score for each domain of fear provides insight into what types of fear are of greatest concern to Americans in 2015.

On average, Americans expressed the highest levels of fear about man-made disasters, such as terrorist attacks, followed by fears about technology, including corporate and government tracing of personal data and fears about the government (such as government corruption and ObamaCare). The complete, ranked list of Domains of Fear follows:

Domain of FearAverage Fear Score (out of 4)
Man-Made Disasters2.15
Technology2.07
Government2.06
Environment1.97
Personal Future1.95
Natural Disasters1.95
Crime1.72
Personal Anxieties1.63
Daily Life1.51
Judgment of Others1.31

 

Top 10 Fears of 2015


 

Below is a list of the 10 fears for which the highest percentage of Americans reported being “Afraid,” or “Very Afraid.”

FearFear DomainAfraid or Very Afraid
Corruption of Government OfficialsGovernment58.0%
Cyber-terrorismTechnology44.8%
Corporate Tracking of Personal InformationTechnology44.6%
Terrorist AttacksMan-Made Disasters44.4%
Government Tracking of Personal InformationTechnology41.4%
Bio-WarfareMan-Made Disasters40.9%
Identity TheftCrime39.6%
Economic CollapseMan-Made Disasters39.2%
Running of out Money in the FuturePersonal Future37.4%
Credit Card FraudCrime36.9%

 

The Complete List of Fears, 2015

The following is a complete, list of all of the fears addressed by the Chapman Survey of American Fears, Wave 2 (2015), including the percent of Americans who reported being afraid or very afraid. 

 

Sorted by Percent Afraid/Very Afraid

FearFear Domain% Afraid or Very Afraid
CorruptionGovernment58.0
Cyber-terrorismTechnology44.8
Corporate Tracking of Personal DataTechnology44.6
Terrorist AttackMan-made Disasters44.4
Government Tracking of Personal DataTechnology41.4
Bio-warfareMan-made Disasters40.9
Identity TheftCrime39.6
Economic CollapseMan-made Disasters39.2
Running out of MoneyPersonal Future37.4
Credit Card FraudCrime36.9
Gun ControlGovernment36.5
WarMan-made Disasters35.8
ObamacareGovernment35.7
IllnessPersonal Future34.4
PandemicNatural Disasters34.3
Nuclear AttackMan-made Disasters33.6
ReptilesPersonal Anxieties33.0
MeltdownMan-made Disasters32.3
Civil UnrestMan-made Disasters32.0
TornadoNatural Disasters31.4
Global WarmingEnvironment30.7
Grid attackMan-made Disasters29.8
Illegal ImmigrationGovernment29.7
DroughtNatural Disasters29.4
Robots Replacing WorkforceTechnology28.9
Public SpeakingPersonal Anxieties28.4
Property DamageNatural Disasters27.7
HeightsPersonal Anxieties27.4
Pollution of rivers and streamsEnvironment26.9
EarthquakeNatural Disasters26.7
Drunk DriverCrime26.5
FloodNatural Disasters26.5
HurricaneNatural Disasters26.4
Trusting Artificial Intelligence to do workTechnology25.8
InsectsPersonal Anxieties25.5
BlizzardNatural Disasters25.0
OverpopulationEnvironment24.0
RobotsTechnology23.9
UnemploymentPersonal Future23.8
Artificial IntelligenceTechnology22.2
Break insCrime22.2
LonelinessPersonal Future22.0
DyingPersonal Future21.9
TheftCrime21.6
WaterPersonal Anxieties21.0
DronesGovernment20.4
ClaustrophobiaPersonal Anxieties19.9
VolcanoNatural Disasters19.7
AgingPersonal Future19.6
Ponzi Schemes and other financial crimesCrime19.0
Technology I don’t understandTechnology19.0
NeedlesPersonal Anxieties18.5
Whites no longer majorityGovernment18.2
DyingDaily Life16.8
GermsPersonal Anxieties16.5
Mass ShootingCrime16.4
Walking Along at NightDaily Life16.4
Murder by a strangerCrime16.0
MuggingCrime15.8
Police BrutalityCrime15.4
FlyingPersonal Anxieties15.2
Rape by a strangerCrime14.5
GangsCrime14.1
Whooping CoughPersonal Anxieties13.5
KidnappingCrime13.0
Mammals (Dogs, rats or other animals)Personal Anxieties12.9
MeaslesPersonal Anxieties12.7
StalkingCrime12.7
Dismissed by OthersDaily Life12.5
BloodPersonal Anxieties12.2
Hate CrimeCrime12.2
WeightJudgment of Others11.4
Rape by someone you knowCrime11.3
Murder by someone you knowCrime10.9
RidiculeDaily Life10.6
Romantic RejectionDaily Life10.4
Expressing OpinionDaily Life9.7
GhostsPersonal Anxieties9.7
Talking to StrangerDaily Life9.7
GossipDaily Life9.6
DarkPersonal Anxieties9.3
AppearanceJudgment of Others8.7
ZombiesPersonal Anxieties8.5
VaccinesPersonal Anxieties8.4
ClownsPersonal Anxieties6.8
AgeJudgment of Others5.9
RaceJudgment of Others5.6
GenderJudgment of Others4.5
DressJudgment of Others4.2

 

Sorted Alphabetically 

FearFear Domain% Afraid or Very Afraid
AgeJudgment of Others5.9
AgingPersonal Future19.6
AppearanceJudgment of Others8.7
Artificial IntelligenceTechnology22.2
Bio-warfareMan-made Disasters40.9
BlizzardNatural Disasters25.0
BloodPersonal Anxieties12.2
Break insCrime22.2
Civil UnrestMan-made Disasters32.0
ClaustrophobiaPersonal Anxieties19.9
ClownsPersonal Anxieties6.8
Corporate Tracking of Personal DataTechnology44.6
CorruptionGovernment58.0
Credit Card FraudCrime36.9
Cyber-terrorismTechnology44.8
DarkPersonal Anxieties9.3
Dismissed by OthersDaily Life12.5
DressJudgment of Others4.2
DronesGovernment20.4
DroughtNatural Disasters29.4
Drunk DriverCrime26.5
DyingPersonal Future21.9
DyingDaily Life16.8
EarthquakeNatural Disasters26.7
Economic CollapseMan-made Disasters39.2
Expressing OpinionDaily Life9.7
FloodNatural Disasters26.5
FlyingPersonal Anxieties15.2
GangsCrime14.1
GenderJudgment of Others4.5
GermsPersonal Anxieties16.5
GhostsPersonal Anxieties9.7
Global WarmingEnvironment30.7
GossipDaily Life9.6
Government Tracking of Personal DataTechnology41.4
Grid attackMan-made Disasters29.8
Gun ControlGovernment36.5
Hate CrimeCrime12.2
HeightsPersonal Anxieties27.4
HurricaneNatural Disasters26.4
Identity TheftCrime39.6
Illegal ImmigrationGovernment29.7
IllnessPersonal Future34.4
InsectsPersonal Anxieties25.5
KidnappingCrime13.0
LonelinessPersonal Future22.0
Mammals (Dogs, rats or other animals)Personal Anxieties12.9
Mass ShootingCrime16.4
MeaslesPersonal Anxieties12.7
MeltdownMan-made Disasters32.3
MuggingCrime15.8
Murder by a strangerCrime16.0
Murder by someone you knowCrime10.9
NeedlesPersonal Anxieties18.5
Nuclear AttackMan-made Disasters33.6
ObamacareGovernment35.7
OverpopulationEnvironment24.0
PandemicNatural Disasters34.3
Police BrutalityCrime15.4
Pollution of rivers and streamsEnvironment26.9
Ponzi Schemes and other financial crimesCrime19.0
Property DamageNatural Disasters27.7
Public SpeakingPersonal Anxieties28.4
RaceJudgment of Others5.6
Rape by a strangerCrime14.5
Rape by someone you knowCrime11.3
ReptilesPersonal Anxieties33.0
RidiculeDaily Life10.6
RobotsTechnology23.9
Robots Replacing WorkforceTechnology28.9
Romantic RejectionDaily Life10.4
Running out of MoneyPersonal Future37.4
StalkingCrime12.7
Talking to StrangerDaily Life9.7
Technology I don’t understandTechnology19.0
Terrorist AttackMan-made Disasters44.4
TheftCrime21.6
TornadoNatural Disasters31.4
Trusting Artificial Intelligence to do workTechnology25.8
UnemploymentPersonal Future23.8
VaccinesPersonal Anxieties8.4
VolcanoNatural Disasters19.7
Walking Along at NightDaily Life16.4
WarMan-made Disasters35.8
WaterPersonal Anxieties21.0
WeightJudgment of Others11.4
Whites no longer majorityGovernment18.2
Whooping CoughPersonal Anxieties13.5
ZombiesPersonal Anxieties8.5

h/t ValueWalk