Survey lists Top 10 American Fears – government corruption is #1, global warming doesn’t make the cut

Chapman University recently completed its third annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears (2016). The survey asked respondents about 65 fears across a broad range of categories including fears about the government, crime, the environment, the future, technology, health, natural disasters, as well as fears of public speaking, spiders, heights, ghosts and many other personal anxieties.

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In addition to the set of fears examined in previous waves, the survey team took a closer look at two fear related phenomena: Americans’ beliefs in conspiracy theories and fear of Muslims, sometimes referred to as “Islamophobia.”

In its third year, the annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears included more than 1,500 adult participants from across the nation and all walks of life. The 2016 survey data is organized into five basic categories: personal fears, conspiracy theories, terrorism, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and fear of Muslims.

The 2016 survey shows that the top 10 things Americans fear the most are:

Below is a list of the 10 fears for which the highest percentage of Americans reported being “Afraid,” or “Very Afraid.”

Fear Fear Domain % Afraid or Very Afraid
Corrupt government officials Government 60.6
Terrorist Attack Manmade Disasters 41
Not having enough money for the future Economic 39.9
Terrorism Crime 38.5
Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition Government 38.5
People I love dying Illness and Death 38.1
Economic/financial collapse Economic 37.5
Identity theft Crime 37.1
People I love becoming seriously ill Illness and Death 35.9
The Affordable Health Care Act/Obamacare Government 35.5

“The 2016 survey data shows us the top fears have shifted from last year’s, which were heavily based in economic and ‘big brother’ type issues to include more health and financial fears this year,” said Christopher Bader, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Chapman University, who led the team effort. “People often fear what they cannot control,” continued Dr. Bader, “and we find continued evidence of that in our top fears.”

Americans Fear Terrorism – and the Public’s Role in Preventing Terrorism

Due to the increase in domestic terror attacks, such as in Orlando and San Bernardino, as well as abroad, the researchers added specific language to explore Americans’ fears related to terrorism. In the top 10 fears cited in the survey overall, “terrorist attack” ranks second, with 41 percent of Americans being afraid of a terror attack–and more than 60 percent believing the United States is likely to experience a large scale terrorist event (such as 9/11) in the near future.

“These attacks have added urgency to the need for the public to understand the precursors of terrorism,” said Ann Gordon, Ph.D., associate dean of the Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Chapman University and one of the three researchers on the study. “Following the San Bernardino attacks, President Obama reminded Americans that if they ‘see something, say something.” The researchers found that most Americans want to be vigilant, but they are unaware of what kinds of behaviors constitute precursors to terrorism.

“For the See Something, Say Something Campaign to be successful, Americans need to know what they should report–and what not to report,” said Dr. Gordon. “The campaign encourages people to report situations and behavior as possible terrorist or violent acts rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations or speech unrelated to criminal activity. More education is needed. Our survey indicates Americans are more likely to report a shoplifter than a terrorist.”

Interestingly, there are clear partisan differences in views on the government’s handling of terrorism with Democrats being more likely to believe government has done a good job compared with either Republicans or Independents.

Additionally, the survey asked respondents if they have rethought everyday activities due to fear of terrorism. Half of Americans fear traveling abroad; one-fifth reported they are less likely to attend a concert, sporting or other public event; and three-fourths are more willing to accept longer lines and security screenings at airports.

Motivating Disaster Preparedness

More than half of all Americans (63 percent) believe that “natural disasters in my area are capable of doing serious harm to me or my property.” And, the vast majority (78 percent) believes an emergency kit would improve their chances of surviving a disaster. Nevertheless, 74 percent have made no effort to put together such a kit.

The survey identified four attitudes that are essential components for motivating preparedness:

  • This can happen to me
  • This is serious
  • I can actually do something to help myself
  • The recommended action would make a difference

“We found that each of these attitudes contributed significantly to the likelihood of preparing for disaster with an emergency kit and a plan,” said Dr. Gordon. “When communicating with the public about the importance of disaster preparedness, it is vital that the message emphasize these four beliefs. Without these components, the message is likely to cause fear without action,” Dr. Gordon continued.

Methodology

The survey was a random sample of 1,511 Americans who are English speaking and over the age of 18. The survey was administered by GFK (Knowledge Networks) a consumer research company with expertise in probability samples. Data were collected between May 5, 2016, and May 18, 2016. The survey took, on average, 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The sample of the Chapman University Survey of American Fears mirrors the demographic characteristics of the U.S. Census.

A comprehensive list of the all the fears from The Chapman Survey on American Fears 2016 can be found http://www.chapman.edu/fearsurvey. In addition to Bader, Day and Gordon, student involvement was key in helping throughout the process.

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Interestingly, global warming aka climate change was #17 on the list, with 32.3% saying it is a fear. It seems people have other fear priorities, and if it weren’t for blowhards like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton trying to link weather events with climate, that number would likely be far lower. Many natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc also ranked far lower.

Ironically, the number one fear is corruption of government officials, something Hillary is having to contend with this week now that the Wikileak revelations are out. Americans “spidey sense” on that issue seems dead-on.

Here is the complete list:

Sorted by Percent Afraid/Very Afraid 

Fear Fear Domain % Afraid or Very Afraid
Corrupt government officials Government 60.6
Terrorist Attack Manmade Disasters 41
Not having enough money for the future Economic 39.9
Terrorism Crime 38.5
Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition Government 38.5
People I love dying Illness and Death 38.1
Economic/financial collapse Economic 37.5
Identity theft Crime 37.1
People I love becoming seriously ill Illness and Death 35.9
The Affordable Health Care Act/Obamacare Government 35.5
Credit card fraud Crime 35.5
Biological warfare Manmade Disasters 34.8
Reptiles Personal Fears 33.2
Government tracking of personal data Technology 33.1
High medical bills Illness and Death 33.1
The US will be involved in another World War Manmade Disasters 32.3
Global warming and climate change Environment 32.3
Nuclear weapons attack Manmade Disasters 31.5
Cyber-terrorism Technology 30.7
Being hit by a drunk driver Crime 30.4
Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes Environment 30
Devastating tornado Natural Disasters 29.7
Pandemic or a major epidemic Manmade Disasters 29.3
Corporate tracking of personal data Technology 28.7
Extinction of plant and animal species Environment 27.9
Pollution of drinking water Environment 27.9
Break-ins Crime 27.6
Widespread civil unrest Manmade Disasters 27.6
Nuclear accident/meltdown Manmade Disasters 27.5
Random/mass shooting Crime 26.9
Oil spills Environment 26.8
Collapse of the electrical grid Manmade Disasters 26.2
Public speaking Personal Fears 25.9
Theft of property Crime 25.5
Losing my data, photos or other important documents in a disaster Natural Disasters 25.2
Insects/arachnids Personal Fears 25
Becoming unemployed Economic 24.6
Heights Personal Fears 24.5
Devastating drought Natural Disasters 23.9
Illegal immigration Immigration/Demographic change 23.8
Devastating hurricane Natural Disasters 23.3
Devastating earthquake Natural Disasters 22.7
Devastating flood Natural Disasters 22.2
Murder by a stranger Crime 21.9
Devastating blizzard/winter storm Natural Disasters 21.8
Government use of drones within the US Government 21.7
Financial fraud (such as a Ponzi scheme, embezzlement, etc.) Crime 21.5
Sexual assault by a stranger Crime 21.5
Mugging Crime 21.3
Gang violence Crime 21.1
Walking alone at night Crime 21.1
Deep lakes and oceans Personal Fears 20.8
Air Pollution Environment 20.7
Becoming seriously ill Illness and Death 20.3
Racial/hate crime Crime 19.9
Police brutality Crime 19.6
Abduction/kidnapping Crime 19.5
Becoming the victim of a violent crime Crime 19.4
Dying Illness and Death 19
Becoming the victim of a property crime Crime 18.6
Sexual assault by someone you know Crime 18.1
Whites no longer being the majority in the US Immigration/Demographic change 17.9
Murder by someone you know Crime 17.5
Stalking Crime 17.4
Small enclosed spaces Personal Fears 16.8
Needles Personal Fears 16.7
Computers replacing people in the workforce Technology 16.6
Technology I don’t understand Technology 15.7
Large volcanic eruption Natural Disasters 15
Germs Personal Fears 14.9
Flying Personal Fears 12.1
Blood Personal Fears 11.7
Animals (dogs, rats, etc). Personal Fears 10.9
Significant other cheating on you Relationships 10.2
Zombies Personal Fears 10.2
Strangers Personal Fears 9.8
Ghosts Personal Fears 8.9
Clowns Personal Fears 7.8
Others talking about you behind your back Relationships 6.8
Source: WUWT 

President Trump Won!!

“Liberals” – Why are you so fucking stupid??

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