Friday, February 3, 2012

Top ten fears of Belgian Adolescents

A decade ago, in 2002, Peter Muris and Thomas H. Ollendick published an article on “The Assessment of Contemporary Fears in Adolescents Using a Modified Version of the Fear Survey Schedule for Children - Revised” in Anxiety Disorders magazine (Volume 16, pages 567 to 584). You can read the abstract here.

They surveyed 551 Belgian adolescents, with ages ranging from 12 to 19 (297 girls and 254 boys). Those adolescents were given the Hawaiian version of Fear Survey Schedule for Children - Revised (acronymed as the FSSC-HI), which has 80 items. Survey participants responded to each item by marking either None, Some, or A Lot. The most common fears were the ten fears with the highest means at the A Lot level. Public speaking was covered in Item 65, which is:

 “Having to talk in front of my class”

The Top Ten most common fears (in their Table 6) were:

2. Being killed or murdered
3. Family member dying
4. Being raped
5. Bombing attacks - being invaded
6. Nuclear war
7. Being kidnapped
8. Drowning
9. Myself dying
10. Germs or getting a serious disease

Having to talk in front of my class wasn’t one of them. Only one item on this list, bombing attacks, is the same as the list in the cross-cultural survey discussed my previous post.

A bar chart (shown above, click to enlarge) displays the percent of adolescents reporting each of those fears.

Another bar chart compares the results for the 12 to 15 year olds and the 16 to 19 year olds. The younger group had a higher percent for eight of the ten fears; with the similar exceptions of AIDS and germs or getting a serious disease.

A third bar chart compares the results for boys and girls. A higher percent of the girls reported all ten fears.

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