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The Top 5 Things Americans Fear


From "crime to clowns."

Nearly a week away from Halloween, Americans might be watching more horror flicks, heading to staged haunted houses or perfecting a ghoulish costume, but a new survey reveals what really is scary to those living in the United States.

Chapman University conducted a nationwide study of more about 1,500 participants and broke down what frightens Americans by asking questions on everything from "crime to clowns."

Walking alone at night was the top fear among Americans, according to the survey. (Photo credit: Shutterstock) Walking alone at night was the top fear among Americans, according to the survey. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The top five fears the university identified overall were as follows:

1) Walking alone at night

2) Becoming the victim of identity theft

3) Safety on the Internet

4) Being the victim of a mass/random shooting

5) Public speaking

"What initially led us into this line of research was our desire to capture this information on a year-over-year basis so we can draw comparisons with what items are increasing in fear as well as decreasing," Dr. Christopher Bader, team lead for the study, said in a statement. "We learned through this initial survey that we had to phrase the questions according to fears vs. concerns to capture the information correctly, so that is how we present it."

Worry and concerns among those polled present a slightly different list:

1) Having identity stolen on the Internet

2) Corporate surveillance of Internet activity

3) Running out of money in the future

4) Government surveillance of Internet activity

5) Becoming ill/sick

In terms of natural disasters, the most feared were tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics, to name a few. And just how prepared are Americans for such a disaster?

"Our research indicated that Americans are aware, but better communication strategies are needed to encourage the nearly 75 percent who are unprepared for catastrophe," said Dr. Ann Gordon, also involved in the survey, said.

Watch the researchers talk about the study:

Interestingly enough, most of the study participants reported a sense that crime was increasing in the country despite that statistics show it is actually going down.

Delving into factors that could be linked with people's fears, the study authors found reaching a lower level of education and watching a lot of TV most consistently allowed them to predict fear.  

Learn more about the study on the university's website.

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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