Speed Reads

Fraidy Cats

Americans' biggest fears explained by ideology, education — and TV habits

Clowns are scarier than ghosts and a turbulent flight is scarier than a stranger on a dark street — but public speaking is the most terrifying thing of all.

The Chapman University Survey on American Fears is out, shedding light on what spooks us the most. The Washington Post compiled Chapman's data into a chart showing our most widely-held fears:

(The Washington Post)

While broad swathes of Americans share similar fears, a person's background and beliefs have a lot to do with what he or she fears the most. For instance, Democrats worry about pollution, man-made disasters, and their own personal safety; Republicans also fear man-made disasters — but are more likely to be afraid of the government and "today's youth." The survey identifies education and television viewing habits as two major factors in shaping fears:

(Chapman University)

The entire survey provides a deep dive into the specifics of Americans' fears — the perfect data points to consider this Halloween as you attempt to distract yourself from even more terrifying thoughts.