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The Top 10 Things Scaring Americans the Most

U.S. News & World Report - Health logo U.S. News & World Report - Health 10/12/2017 David Oliver
A young woman screaming uncontrollably while isolated on a black background.: What really connects most of these fears together? The news, apparently. © (Getty Images) What really connects most of these fears together? The news, apparently.

October is typically seen as the scariest month of the year given its ties to Halloween. So it's appropriate that the Chapman University Survey of American Fears is now out for 2017, revealing what Americans are afraid of most.

For the third year in a row, Americans are most afraid of the corruption of government officials (74.5 percent afraid or very afraid). The second biggest fear was the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare (new this year, with 55.3 percent afraid or very afraid), followed by the pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (53.1 percent) and pollution of drinking water (50.4 percent).

High medical bills, global warming and climate change, North Korea using weapons and not having enough money in the future were among the other fears in the top 10. Environmental issues never made it into the top 10 in previous surveys.

But what really connects most of these fears together? The news, apparently.

Video: Panic Attack At Work? Never Fear, Here's How To Deal (Courtesy Wochit News)

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"We are beginning to see trends that people tend to fear what they are exposed to in the media," Christopher Bader, a sociology professor at Chapman University who led the research, said in a statement. "Many of the top 10 fears this year can be directly correlated to the top media stories of the past year." Researchers conducted the survey online and included more than 1,200 participants across the U.S., giving participants a list of about 79 different fears to choose from across myriad topics. They collected the data from June 28 to July 7.

The survey also found that Americans think both both Islamic extremists and white supremacists are threats to national security. More than half of Americans – 51 percent – think white supremacists make up such a threat, while three out of five Americans say they are afraid or very afraid Islamic extremists/Jihadists are such a threat.

As for other extremists groups, only one-third of Americans found extreme anti-immigration groups, the militia/patriot movement, left-wing revolutionaries and extreme anti-abortion groups as concerning.

Elsewhere, 31 percent are afraid of being a victim of a mass or random shooting; 55 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ancient civilizations like Atlantis were once real; and 52 percent believed spirits could haunt places.

The 10 biggest fears list can be found below.

RankFearPercent Afraid or Very Afraid
1Corruption of government officials74.5
2American Health Care Act/Trumpcare55.3
3Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes53.1
4Pollution of drinking water50.4
5Not having enough money in the future50.2
6High medical bills48.4
7The U.S. will be involved in another war48.4
8Global warming and climate change48
9North Korea using weapons47.5
10Air pollution44.9
Fear of fear itself: An experience, act or thing that you find totally benign can be another person’s nightmare, whether it's a fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of <a href="http://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-07-08/how-to-detect-and-treat-spider-bites">spiders</a> (arachnophobia) or fear of going out (agoraphobia). “Central to all phobias is the concept of anxiety sensitivity,” says clinical psychologist <a href="http://www.phobia-anxiety.org/about-us/">Dr. Martin Seif</a>, associate director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center at <a href="http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ny/white-plains-hospital-6215330">White Plains Hospital</a>. That’s a fancy term for three things, he says: fear of the fear symptoms, anticipatory anxiety – worrying you’ll come across whatever triggers your reaction – and spending significant energy avoiding those triggers. Here are just a few of the unexpected phobias that haunt people until they reach out for help. 9 Phobias That Are Surprisingly Common

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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