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What Do Americans Fear Most?


Chapman University in Orange, California, asked Americas what scares them the most. Their answer? Government corruption. (Terrorism came in second.)

Chapman University in Orange, California, asked Americas what scares them the most. Their answer? Government corruption. (Terrorism came in second.)


Do you think Americans are more afraid of possible terrorist attacks or U. S. government corruption?

If you guessed U.S. government corruption, you would be correct. It turns out Americans are more afraid of U.S. government corruption than a possible terrorist attack!

At least that is what a Chapman University survey found. The researchers say 58 percent of people they asked said they were either afraid, or very afraid, of corruption by government officials. 44.4 percent fear man-made disasters, like terrorist attacks.

Government corruption tops the list of 88 possible fears and anxieties that people were asked about. The university questioned 1,541 people across the country.

Almost half of Americans say they fear cyberterrorism. They also fear having their online information tracked by the government and corporations.

The university survey grouped fear into 10 major categories. They include crime, personal anxieties and technology. They also include both man-made and natural disasters. The rest of the top 10 fears were corporate tracking personal information, terror attacks, biological warfare, identity theft, running out of money, and credit card fraud.

In the end, people seem to be more afraid of man-made disasters than those nature gives us.

When it comes to natural disasters, the ones most-feared are pandemics – not hurricanes or earthquakes. Fear of reptiles, like snakes, tops the list of personal anxieties. The main environmental concern is global warming.

When the subject is daily life, death is what people fear most.

Also, some on the list of fears were not so surprising, like war, insects, loneliness, the dark, and a fear of heights.

I’m Anne Ball.

Dora Mekouar reported on this story for VOANews.com. Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

anxieties– n. fear, or feeling nervous

cyberterrorism –n. terrorism to damage or disrupt computer systems

categories – n. groups of things that are similar

fraud –n. crime of using dishonest ways to take something from someone

pandemic –n. a disease that spreads quickly and affects a large number of people throughout the world

reptile –n. an animal like a snake or alligator that has cold blood, lays eggs, and has a body covered in scales or hard parts

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