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What Do Americans Fear the Most in 2017?

In 2014, three Chapman University sociologists launched the American Fear Survey in order to find out how Americans viewed crime, in comparison to a litany of other typical fears. The list of 80 fears included a diverse range of phobias (and more rational fears) including spiders, snakes, heights, zombies, clowns, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and the death of a loved one. Surprisingly, for the third year in a row, corruption of government officials has topped the list of fears, mentioned by 74.5 percent of the respondents. And in 2017, the other two fears topping the list were the American Healthcare Act (55.3 percent) and fear of pollution in the nation’s oceans, rivers and lakes (53.2 percent).

Nothing to fear but...

  • A random sample of 1,207 adults were polled in an online questionnaire in May 2017. As in past years, current events -- such as the repeal of Obamacare and the potential loss of health care coverage, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement -- were on many people's minds.

  • The rest of the Top 10: pollution of drinking water, fear related to family finances, high medical bills, another world war, climate change, North Korea's nuclear weapons, and air pollution.

  • “Our previous lists had more to do with disasters and crime,” said pollster Christopher Bader, adding that this year's data indicated “great fear of some of the things happening in this presidency.”

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