Americans fear corruption more than terrorism: study

Americans are more afraid of a corrupt government than a terrorist attack or bio-warfare, according to a new survey that listed the top 10 things that people in the US fear the most.

The survey asked respondents about 88 fears across a broad range of categories including fears about the government, crime, the environment, the future, technology, health, disasters and many other personal anxieties.

The second annual Chapman University Survey on ‘American Fears’, that included more than 1,500 adult participants from across US, found that the top 10 things Americans fear the most are – corruption of government officials, cyber-terrorism, corporate tracking of personal information, terrorist attacks, government tracking of personal information, bio-warfare, identity theft, economic collapse, running out of money in the future and credit card fraud.

The 2015 survey data was organised into five basic categories – personal fears, acting out of fear, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and domains of fear.

“The 2015 survey data shows us the top fears are heavily based in economic and ‘big brother’ type issues,” said Christopher Bader, who led the team.

“People often fear what they cannot control and technology and the future of our economy are two aspects of life that Americans find very unpredictable at the moment,” Bader said.

Acting out of fear was a new element to the 2015 survey. The researchers asked respondents if they had engaged in particular actions because of their fears.

Researchers found that nearly a fourth of Americans report having voted for a particular candidate due to their fears; and more than 10 per cent have purchased a gun due to fear.

More than half of all Americans fear they will experience a natural or man-made disaster.

Further, 86 per cent believe an emergency kit would improve their chances of surviving a disaster; but 72 per cent indicate they have made no effort to put together such a kit.

The survey included items on paranormal beliefs ranging from Bigfoot and psychic powers to haunted houses and the power of dreams.

The data showed that more than 40 per cent of Americans believe that places can be haunted by spirits; and more than a fourth believe that the living and the dead can communicate with each other.

Twenty per cent of Americans believe that aliens visited Earth in the ancient past, and that dreams can foretell the future.

The survey sample was a random sample of 1,541 Americans who were English speaking and over the age of 18.

Data were collected between May 16, 2015 and May 25, 2015.