Forget ghosts and zombies this Halloween, Americans’ greatest fear is their government
It’s the season for spooking, but traditional Halloween haunts don’t keep most Americans up at night.
Screaming your way through a haunted house, burying your face during a horror movie, or jumping at the sight of a hairy spider are all fear responses. But reactions to such acute threats are fleeting, and around this time of year are often intentional.
Which is very different than the fears that plague us year-round.
A recent survey from Chapman University in California found the top fears held by most people are the unpredictable ones over which they have absolutely no control. People are most worried about government corruption and terrorism and corporate tracking of personal data. (Of the 88 fears that survey participants were asked to rank, whooping cough and zombies rank as the bottom two.)
Robert Leahy, director of The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and author of The Worry Cure, said people often “overestimate the risk” of threats they cannot see. And the lack of control makes them feel vulnerable.
“Ironically, we seldom fear the real threats—such as cancer and cardiovascular disease — [and] we engage in high-risk behavior such as overeating, drinking, smoking, etc.,” he said. “…We often believe that what is familiar to us—these habits—is not risky.”
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