November 15, 2017
Just 20 years ago, many Americans would have said that death or public speaking, or heights, or spiders were their greatest fears. Today, those anxieties rate as number 48, 20, 34, and 50, respectively on the list of things of which we either are “afraid” or “very afraid,” according to the findings of The Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017, released on October 11.
Our fears have become greatly politicized, based on the latest poll. On this year’s top ten (from the highest percentage of respondents who reported being afraid or very afraid to the lowest):
· Corrupt government officials (74%);
· American Healthcare Act (55%);
· Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (53%);
· Pollution of drinking water (50%);
· Not having enough money for the future (50%);
· High medical bills (48%);
· Another world war (48%);
· Global warming and climate change (48%);
· North Korea using weapons (48%); and
· Air pollution (45%).
Indeed, environmental issues never cracked the top ten fears in Chapman’s previous surveys. In 2017, there was a sharp increase in environmental fears, “likely due to fears about policy changes in Washington,” Chapman’s pollsters commented, adding, “ The Trump Administration has charted a drastically different path; ordering the US Environmental Protection Agency not to enforce major pollution laws, and firing the EPA’s entire Science Advisory Board.” “The 2017 list of fears clearly reflects political unrest and uncertainty in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president,” said the researchers, adding, “Increased tensions with North Korea, concerns about sweeping changes proposed to health care and discussion (at the time the survey was administered) of the United States leaving the Paris Climate Accords produced a list [of governmental and environmental concerns] “:
However, some things never change. Zombies (at number 78), ghosts (79) and clowns (76) still made it on the list.
The Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 4 (2017) provides an in-depth examination into the fears of average Americans. In May, a random sample of 1,207 adults nationwide was polled about 80 different fears across a huge variety of topics; including crime, the government, the environment, disasters, personal anxieties, technology and many others.
Research contact: www.chapman.edu/fearsurvey