Survey reveals what Americans fear the most

As the presidential election campaign drags on, it may come as no surprise that corrupt government officials are one of the greatest fears many Americans have, according to a new study.

People are scared of a lot of things, ranging from terror attacks to identity theft and deaths within the family, according to the third annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears.

The 2016 survey data showed a shift from 2015, where many of the top fears were economic and “big brother type issues," Christopher Bader, a professor of sociology at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., said in a statement. Bader, who led the team effort, said this year the responses showed more of a focus on health and finance.

But while the overall focus of fear may have shifted, corruption of government officials remained the top fear for the second year in a row.

“People often fear what they cannot control, and we find continued evidence of that in our top fears,” Bader said.

The survey asked 1,511 people nationwide about fears and concerns across different categories, including crime, the government, natural disasters and personal fears and technology.

This year, the survey also focused on Islamophobia and Americans' belief in conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, President Obama's birth certificate, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. According to the survey, more than half of Americans believe the government is hiding information on 9/11.

Terrorist attacks ranked second on the list of top fears, and the recent uptick in homegrown attacks like the Pulse nightclub massacre and San Bernardino seem to have increased some Americans mistrust of Muslims, according to the study. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would not be comfortable with a Mosque being built in their neighborhood and one-third reported that Muslims are more likely to be terrorists.

The survey found that men are more likely to hold anti-Muslim sentiments than women. Political party also made a difference, with Republicans expressing the highest level of anti-Muslim views and Democrats the lowest.

Here are the top 10 fears of 2016:

Corruption of government officials (same top fear as 2015) — 60.6%
Terrorist attacks — 41%
Not having enough money for the future — 39.9%
Being a victim of terror — 38.5%
Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition — 38.5%
People I love dying — 38.1%
Economic or financial collapse — 37.5%
Identity theft — 37.1%
People I love becoming seriously ill — 35.9%
The Affordable Health Care Act/”Obamacare” — 35.5%

USA Today


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