It’s no secret that people are afraid of all sorts of things. Some, like clowns or flesh-eating zombies, are the stuff of nightmares and horror films. But others, such as claustrophobia or the fear of vomiting, are more common than you might think. In fact, the average person has about a dozen fears and phobias that affect their day-to-day life. To get a better sense of what scares the average person, we compiled data from the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. This annual study follows trends over time and allows us to see what frightens Americans most in their daily lives.
Some of the biggest fears are pretty easy to understand. For example, most people are scared of snakes, a fear that probably stems from evolution as humans have evolved to avoid the bites of venomous reptiles. But other fears are more complex. For instance, the fear of flying could be caused by a variety of factors. It might stem from a family history of bad experiences or a general fear of enclosed spaces. In other cases, it might be the result of media coverage of plane crashes and disasters.
This year’s survey was a bit different from previous years in that four of the top 10 fears were centered around the environment. However, in the 2020/21 survey there seems to have been a shift away from these concerns with only pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes making the list of top ten fears. This may be due to a growing focus on other issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and a tense political climate.
Other than environmental concerns, health and relationships dominated the list of top fears. More than one in three people are afraid of losing a loved one and almost two in five are afraid of a relationship ending over differences in politics or opinions on vaccinations or other health matters.
The other notable phobia that made the list was the fear of death from overdoses, a concern that has been on the rise since 2010. This is likely due to a growing awareness about how many drugs are available and how easy it is to accidentally take too much.
The other big fear is the fear of public speaking, a fear that is felt by nearly everyone. This might be the result of the overuse of ‘fear factor’ segments on television or the prevalence of social media which can give people a false idea of what it actually feels like to speak in front of a crowd. people’s biggest fears