A new study provides insight into the fears of Americans.

The Chapman University Survey of American Fears found out that a number of factors are responsible for putting the fear into U.S. residents in 2015. The list of fear-inducing factors includes illegal immigration, natural disasters and civil unrest among many others.

The issue of corruption towers above the rest when it comes to inducing fear. Most of the prominent fears originate from human causes. About 58 percent of total respondents are afraid of corruption. This makes it the top fear of the country. Next in line was cyber-terrorism occupying 44.8 percent of respondents' minds. The issue of personal data breach due to corporate tracking completed top three fears. About 44.6 percent were afraid of unauthorized snooping on data.

It is a matter of worry, however, when fears turn toxic. It can push people to fight one another and break social trust. Without this trust, it becomes impossible for communities and nations to function in a united manner. Studies done on 2014 and 2015 provide valuable insights to the mutual fears that blight the U.S.

The important findings are:
  • The people who are distrustful of others are twice the number of respondents who are of the opinion that individuals can be trusted.
  • About 50 percent of Americans are at least a little afraid of strangers.
  • Fewer than 50 percent said that they would help a stranger whose car ran out of gas on the road.

Such fear and distrust frequently target the vulnerable sections of the population. This is telling as almost 40 percent of Americans hold the belief that diseases are imported into the U.S. by immigrants. They also believe that illegal immigrants commit more crimes compared to U.S. citizens.

The study also revealed that the warmest feeling of Americans was skewed towards whites. They have an enviable 74 rating on the feeling thermometer scale. Muslims are far lower down the scale, with only Atheists beating them to the bottom heap. Immigrants are seen to be more favorable than Muslims. Hate crimes have increased by three times against Muslims, with mosques being attacked, because they are easy targets. Politicians do not dare to touch majority groups as they do with Muslims. This ignites fear that stokes an emotional response rather than a logical one.

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