Fear is one of humanity’s most fundamental impulses. And people can become afraid of almost anything. The recent Survey of American Fears identified the top 2015 terrors, including government corruption and cyber terrorism. But another look at the data shows that these fears come in clusters, writes Elizabeth Palermo for LiveScience.
Chapman University researchers asked almost 1,500 participants about their fears. They found that people who believe in spirits, ghosts and paranormal beliefs are likely to be more afraid overall. The strongest fears linked with paranormal beliefs, however, were crime and natural disasters, study leader Christopher Bader tells Palermo.
It’s not yet clear what other factors are linked to generally being more fearful. The researchers hypothesize that education level could be a factor. The thought is that people with a lower education level are more susceptible to fears because they lack the knowledge or skills to assess a threat’s credibility. Another candidate is exposure to conspiracy theories, which can spread new fears or make dangers seem more prevalent. Both potential factors will be investigated in future studies.
Even though 41.4 percent of survey respondents believe in ghosts and spirits, only 9.7 percent are actually afraid of them. On the whole, people who took the survey were more afraid of things like corruption of government officials, bio-warfare and terrorist attacks than ghosts. In fact, respondents were even more afraid of things like Obamacare (35.7 percent) and mammals (12.9 percent) than the paranormal.
And a little fear may not be all bad. Fear researchers find that though some people are paralyzed by their fears, others enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes along with being scared.
Perhaps more fear isn’t as scary as it might seem.