Two lists of what people fear most; one from a government and the other from the internet

There is nothing to fear but fear itself” was President Roosevelt’s advice to a depression torn US. Go forward a few decades to the late 1990′s when the US conducted a National Comorbidity Survey and asked more than 8000 US citizens their fears, which were:

1 Insects, mice, snakes and bats
2 Heights
3 Water
4 Public transportation
5 Storms
6 Closed spaces
7 Tunnels and bridges
8 Crowds
9 Speaking in public

Now read “Click” by Bill Tancer who, in his book published in 2009, investigates people’s fears by studying their internet searches. This shows a different set of fears:

1 Flying
2 Heights
3 Clowns
4 Intimacy
5 Death
6 Rejection
7 People
8 Snakes
9 Success
10 Driving

There is a lot more detail in the book but, interestingly, fear of public speaking is last on the government list, but does not appear at all in Tancer’s list. And where did the myth come from that people fear public speaking more than death? I’ve heard it but never seen the data.

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4 thoughts on “Two lists of what people fear most; one from a government and the other from the internet

    1. Thanks for your comments and useful links, Richard. I read about the National Comorbidity Survey in chapter 6 of “Click” by Bill Tancer. The notes for this chapter cite the source as: “Kessler et al ‘Social Phobia Subtypes in the National Comorbidity Survey’ American Journal of Psychiatry155 (May 1998) 613-19.”

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