Americans might be in an uproar about Ebola, but what we fear most is walking alone at night, according to the first comprehensive nationwide study on the subject.
California-based Chapman University questioned 1,500 people from across the United States to reach its conclusions. The survey found that the top five things that scare Americans the most are: walking alone at night, becoming the victim of identity theft, Internet safety, being the victim of a mass/random shooting, and public speaking.
The researchers pared the information they gathered into four general categories: personal fears, natural disasters, fear factors and crime.
“A majority of Americans not only fear crimes such as, child abduction, gang violence, sexual assaults and others; but they also believe these crimes (and others) have increased over the past 20 years,” said Dr. Edward Day, who led the crime portion of the research and analysis, in a press release. “When we looked at statistical data from police and FBI records, it showed crime has actually decreased in America in the past 20 years.”
The survey also looked at what Americans worry about most. Many of those concerns center around online activity; people worry about both government and corporate surveillance of their Internet activity.
Americans’ other top worries include running out of money and becoming ill in the future.
And even though we are uneasy about natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, only 25 percent of us have a disaster preparedness kit — an emergency supply of food, water, clothing and medical supplies.
“We are conducting follow-up studies to examine why so many Americans remain unprepared despite lessons learned from recent natural disasters,” said Dr. Ann Gordon, one of the lead researchers, in the press release. “And, we are also taking a closer look at ‘preppers’—a community that takes preparedness to the extreme.”
The researchers even came up with an analysis of what types of people tend to fear certain things. Being less educated and watching a lot of television were the most consistent predictors of fear, according to the survey.