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October 11, 2017

What do Americans fear most? Survey says ...

California university releases annual Survey of American Fears

Surveys Fears
10112017_Top10Fears_ChapmanU Source/Chapman University

The top fear of Americans? Government corruption.

The two things Americans fear most this year are government corruption and TrumpCare.

survey, conducted by a California university, also found that fear was high about the state of the environment and the possibility of a World War III with North Korea.

The fourth annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears asked respondents about 80 different fears across a broad range of categories, including government, the environment, terrorism, health, natural disasters, and finances, as well as fears of public speaking, spiders, heights, ghosts and other personal anxieties.

In addition to the set of fears examined in previous waves, the survey team also focused on one specific phenomena: fear of extremism.

The survey included more than 1,207 adult participants from across the nation representing a direct slice of the American population according to census data.

According to the survey, these are the top 10 things Americans fear the most:

1. Corruption of government officials (same top fear as 2015 and 2016)

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," said Christopher Bader, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Chapman University, in a news 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."

Some other interesting observations:

• Environmental issues had never cracked the top 10 in previous fear surveys. Water pollution ranked third overall, followed closely by drinking water quality, a fear expressed by 50.4 percent of those surveyed.

• Americans believe that both Islamic extremists and white supremacists represent a threat to national security. Three out of five said they are very afraid or afraid that Islamic extremists/jihadists are a threat to national security. White supremacists are the only other group seen as a threat to national security by a majority of Americans.

• 29 percent of Americans report being very afraid or afraid of being a victim of hate crime.

• Nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) fear North Korea using nuclear weapons and 41 percent fear a nuclear attack generally.

Chapman University has campuses in Orange and Irvine, California.

To read the full survey, including results about Americans' paranormal beliefs and their fear of natural disasters.