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What Americans Fear Most: Corruption, Reptiles, and Death

Biowarfare, high medical bills, alien encounters, and more

by Peter Jeffrey

October 31, 2016

Really scary art

Are you a low-paid white Republican exurban man who identifies as Christian but would rather hang out most Sundays than go to church?

Then you’re likelier than most to creep down the park bench away from that guy reading the Koran – and to believe the government is hiding information about extraterrestrials.

That’s one scary finding of the third annual Survey of American Fears from Chapman University.

Of course, most people who fit the description above aren’t afraid of their Muslim neighbors or think there’s something fishy about Scalia’s death. It’s the other way around.

But if you’re careful with your logic, the survey can teach you a lot about your fellow Americans, and yourself, in this spooky election year.

For example, more respondents fear atheists than people in general, over 60 percent expect another 9/11-size attack on U.S. soil in the near future, and corruption of government officials remains the top dread from last year.

Oh, and 10.2 percent live in fear of zombies.

We fear: biowarfare, robots, global warming, identity theft, alien encounters, sex (between our significant others and somebody who isn’t us), and government officials. And clowns. And so much more.

So dig in and see where your own fears fit in the pantheon (fear of polytheists, anyone?) of American frights.


List of fears published by Chapman University; answers ranked by the percent of Americans studied who reported being “afraid” or “very afraid.”

Images: Getty(100)
Illustrations: Steph Davidson
Design + Development: James Singleton