ORANGE, Calif. — For the third year in a row, a survey that identifies Americans’ greatest fears finds corrupt government officials tops the list.
Chapman University in California recently released the results of this year’s Chapman University Survey of American Fears, which is in its fourth iteration.
The survey asked more than 1,200 respondents to weigh in on about 80 common fears, including ones concerning government, terrorism, the environment, health, natural disasters, public speaking, and the paranormal.
Overall, the researchers were able to fit each fear into one of four categories: personal fears, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and fear of extremism.
Following corrupt politicians, the top fears expressed by respondents were:
2) American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare (new fear)
3) Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (new in top 10)
4) Pollution of drinking water (new in top 10)
5) Not having enough money in the future
6) High medical bills
7) The U.S. will be involved in another world war (new fear)
8) Global warming and climate change
9) North Korea using weapons (new fear)
10) Air pollution
“The 2017 survey data shows us that while some of the top fears have remained, there has also been a pronounced shift to environmental fears,” says Dr. Christopher Bader, who led the study, in a press release. “We are beginning to see trends that people tend to fear what they are exposed to in the media. Many of the top 10 fears this year can be directly correlated to the top media stories of the past year.”
Bader and his team note that while concerns about the environment had never cracked the top 10 in years prior, this year had four prominent ecological concerns make the list: water pollution, the lack of safe drinking water, climate change and air pollution.
Water pollution and the availability of drinking water were both concerns expressed by a majority of respondents, while nearly half feared climate change (48 percent) and air pollution (44.9 percent).
Larger numbers of Americans feared extremist groups, including both jihadists and white supremacists. Three in five expressed a fear of jihadists, while a touch more than half viewed white supremacists as a national security threat.
Interestingly, the researchers found that nearly three-fourths of Americans believe in some sort of paranormal activity.
Demographically, these adherents tend to be lower-income, conservative females, living in a rural area. Despite claiming to be very pious, these individuals were found to attend religious services rather infrequently.
The survey was conducted in late June to early July among respondents from all 50 states. The full results can be viewed here.