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Unraveling Fear: Study Finds What Scares Americans

Update Date: Oct 23, 2014 09:04 AM EDT

Walking alone at night is American's top fear, a new cross nation study from Chapman University shows.

Researchers surveyed 1,500 people to determine their personal fears, crime fears, fear of natural disasters and fear factors. According to a press release, the top personal fears of Americans included walking alone at night, becoming the victim of identity theft, safety on the internet, being the victim of a mass/random shooting and public speaking, Chapman researchers said.

The Seattle Times reported that Americans apprehend rising crime rates when crime records show that the crime rates declined for 20 years now.

"What we found when we asked a series of questions pertaining to fears of various crimes is that 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 the lead researcher of the study, according to a press release.

Natural disasters that Americans most feared included tornado/hurricane, earthquakes, floods, pandemic and power outage. Surprisingly, only 25 percent of the participants said they were prepared for disasters with emergency kits and survival aid.  

The survey also determined fear factors. Researchers looked at various factors including age, gender, race, education, income and others to find that low levels of education and high exposure to television predicted fear.

"Through a complex series of analyses, we were able to determine what types of people tend to fear certain things, and what personal characteristics tend to be associated with most types of fear," said Dr. Christopher Bader.

"Our research indicated that Americans are aware, but better communication strategies are needed to encourage the nearly 75 percent who are unprepared for catastrophe. 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, who was also associated with survey. 

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