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The Thing That Americans Fear Most

It involves the government
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2015 10:21 AM CDT
Updated Oct 24, 2015 8:00 AM CDT
The Thing That Americans Fear Most
The remains of a factory are seen, upper left, in the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki, gutted by the Aug. 9 atomic bombing. "Nuclear attack" is No. 16 on the list.   (AP Photo/File)

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"—well, that and almost 90 other things. California's Chapman University last week came out with its second annual Survey of American Fears. The 1,541 adults who were polled were asked about 89 (by our count) fears that fall into what the university describes as four basic categories: personal fears, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and drivers of fear behavior. Participants were asked to assign a number to each fear ranging from 1 (not afraid) to 4 (very afraid), explains the school in a blog post. The following top 10 fears represent those in which the highest percentage of adults said they were "afraid" or "very afraid."

  1. Corruption of government officials: 58.0%
  2. Cyber-terrorism: 44.8%
  3. Corporate tracking of personal information: 44.6%
  4. Terrorist attacks: 44.4%
  5. Government tracking of personal information: 41.4%
  6. Bio-warfare: 40.9%
  7. Identity theft: 39.6%
  8. Economic collapse: 39.2%
  9. Running of out money in the future: 37.4%
  10. Credit-card fraud: 36.9%
Our top personal anxiety (at No. 17) is reptiles; public speaking comes in at No. 26, with heights just behind at 28; drones occupy No. 46; and we're more afraid of romantic rejection (No. 76) than we are ghosts (No. 78) and zombies (No. 83). What occupies the final slot? That would be others judging the way we dress, at 4.2%. Full list here. (Meet a woman who literally has no fear.)

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