Fear factor: New study reveals what scares Americans most
By: Gayle King, CBS This Morning
By: Gayle King, CBS This Morning
Fear is a natural and often necessary emotional response to physical and emotional danger that is vital to our existence. If we didn’t feel fear, we wouldn’t be able to protect ourselves from harmful threats.
So what are Americans afraid of? The second annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears seeks to answer that question and reveals some interesting trends about what people in the U.S. find most threatening.
A random sample of more than 1,5000 adults from across the country answered questions about 88 fears covering a broad spectrum of categories, including fears of the government, crime, disasters, the environment, the future, technology, sickness and aging. The researchers also included questions about personal anxieties, such as claustrophobia, clowns and public speaking.
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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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By: Cari Romm, The Atlantic
When the personal computer first became ubiquitous in the 1980s, as Adrienne LaFrance wrote in The Atlantic earlier this year, some people found it so terrifying that the term “computerphobia” was coined.
“In the early days of the telephone, people wondered if the machines might be used to communicate with the dead. Today, it is the smartphone that has people jittery,” she wrote. “Humans often converge around massive technological shifts—around any change, really—with a flurry of anxieties.”
To see those anxieties quantified, take a look at the top five scariest items in the Survey of American Fears, released earlier this week by researchers at Chapman University. Three of them—cyberterrorism, corporate tracking of personal information, and government tracking of personal information—were technology-related.
For the survey, a random sample of around 1,500 adults ranked their fears of 88 different items on a scale of one (not afraid) to four (very afraid). The fears were divided into 10 different categories: crime, personal anxieties (like clowns or public speaking), judgment of others, environment, daily life (like romantic rejection or talking to strangers), technology, natural disasters, personal future, man-made disasters, and government—and when the study authors averaged out the fear scores across all the different categories, technology came in second place, right behind natural disasters.
To continue reading click here to be directed to The Atlantic.