Biggest U.S. Fear is Fear of People, Study Says
USA – October 9, 2018
The data team at Your Local Security released their annual report on America's top-searched phobias in 2018, with the fear of spiders and the fear of people coming out on top.
In 2017, top the five most-searched phobias in America were the fear of the unknown, the fear of the number 13, the fear of clowns, the fear of (small, pattern-like) holes, and the fear of the ocean. This year, the YLS research team used an updated methodology to more accurately reflect the most common U.S. fears.
The team used Google’s autocomplete feature to find the fifteen most common ways to end the phrases “Why am I afraid of/to” and “Why am I scared of/to.” Gathering data from a yearlong period, from August 29, 2017 to August 29, 2018, these phrases — and the respective scientific names of those fears — were then put into Google Trends to determine which phobias each state was searching for more than any other state.
“Fear of people” and “fear of spiders” were the most-searched in eleven states each, taking the awards for overall popularity. Among the other interesting findings in 2018 is that New Mexico, which is one of the sunniest states in the U.S., is the only one most afraid of the dark. Montana, a state with some tall peaks (including Granite Peak at 12,808’ and Mount Wood at 12,661’), is most afraid of heights. It is lso surprising that California, home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, has a fear of success. New York, which has one of the least licensed drivers per capita and the most taxi drivers, has a fear of driving.
North Dakota and Wyoming are the only states without a top-searched fear.
Here’s each state’s top fear:
Fear of People (Anthrophobia: morbid fear of social situations): Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin
Fear of Spiders (Arachnophobia: intense aversion to members of the arachnid family): Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode, Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington
Fear of Driving (Vehophobia: persistent, overpowering fear of driving): New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio
Fear of Commitment (Gamophobia: overwhelming fear of long-term obligations or marriage): Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada
Fear of Needles (Trypanophobia: abnormal fear of injections, blood draws, and needles): Alaska, Delaware, South Dakota
Fear of Heights (Acrophobia: acute or abnormal fear of high places): Georgia, Montana, West Virginia
Fear of Thunder (Astraphobia: severe fear of thunderstorms and lightning): Arkansas, Connecticut
Fear of Success (Achievemephobia: fear of living up to, or not living up to one’s potential): California
Fear of Bugs (Entomophobia: excessive fear of insects): Colorado, Michigan
Fear of Sleep (Somniphobia: fear or aversion to falling asleep at night): Florida
Fear of Being Alone (Autophobia: morbid fear of isolation or abandonment): Illinois, Virginia
Fear of Dying (Thanatophobia: irrational or extreme fear of death): Indiana, Massachusetts
Fear of Love (Philophobia: unreasonable fear of falling in love or emotional attachment): Kansas
Fear of the Dark (Nyctophobia: extreme fear of night or darkness): New Mexico
Fear of Everything (Panophobia: generalized, lingering fear that something bad is about to happen): Texas
No Biggest Fear: North Dakota, Wyoming
Phobia names are derived from combinations of Greek words. Acrophobia — the fear of heights — for instance, is a blend of the Greek “acro”, meaning “summit” or “ledge”, and “phobia”, meaning “morbid fear”.
Some phobias develop as we observe those around us, and others are the response of a particularly frightening experience. Some are even the result of genetics, according to Katherina K. Hauner, a postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine writing for the Scientific American.
If you’d like to see our reader’s biggest fears or to vote for your own one, please check our reader’s poll regarding this topic: Who’s Afraid of Big Black Spiders? Name Your Biggest Fear.