What are you afraid of? In a very general sense, many of us might say “death” or “pain”. However, the true nature of fear comes down to something more esoteric. We're often afraid of things that pose little risk of harm, or things that pose no physical threat whatsoever. You might be terrified of public speaking, but it's not going to kill you—unless you somehow manage to literally die of embarrassment.

Black widow spider

Many people are afraid of spiders, despite the fact that most arachnids are timid and harmless.

Regardless of actual danger, fear is a powerful motivator, so understanding it provides valuable insight into the human psyche. This is helpful from a survivalist standpoint, both for conquering your own fears and for dealing with (or even exploiting) the fears of others.

Last year, Chapman University took a random sample of 1,541 adults throughout the United States, and asked them to rank their level of fear about various topics. These topics from the Survey of American Fears fell into 10 categories, which Chapman researchers called the Domains of Fear. Here's how they separated them:

Top fears infographic 2

Then, the researchers established which of these categories was most terrifying on average. The results indicated the following Average Fear Scores for each domain, on a scale of 1 (not afraid) to 4 (very afraid):

  • Man-Made Disasters – 2.15
  • Technology – 2.07
  • Government – 2.06
  • Environment – 1.97
  • Personal Future – 1.95
  • Natural Disasters – 1.95
  • Crime – 1.72
  • Personal Anxieties – 1.63
  • Daily Life – 1.51
  • Judgment of Others – 1.31

Beyond these categorized results, the survey showed specific fears that were most common, regardless of domain. According to this survey, here are America's top fears:

Top fears infographic 1

These are only the top 10, but a complete list is available on the Chapman University survey page. Interestingly, the individuals surveyed were more afraid of reptiles and public speaking than of actually dying. Also, those surveyed were on a whole far more afraid of financial crimes like identity theft than of physical crimes (murder, rape, theft, break-ins, etc.).

For comparison purposes, here are the ten least common fears, followed by percentage of individuals who were “afraid” or “very afraid” of them.

  • Gossip – 9.6%
  • Dark – 9.3%
  • Appearance – 8.7%
  • Zombies – 8.5%
  • Vaccines – 8.4%
  • Clowns – 6.8%
  • Age – 5.9%
  • Race – 5.6%
  • Gender – 4.5%
  • Dress – 4.2%

Prepare Now:

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