Tuesday, November 10, 2015

YouGov survey done in 2014 found U.S. adults were less than A Little Afraid of public speaking

How high is that fear?

On October 30th I blogged about how According to the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of federal government Corruption and only Slightly Afraid of Public Speaking. In that post I discussed how the four answers people chose to reply to questions could be put onto a numerical scale by calculating a Fear Score.

Back in 2014 YouGov did a smaller survey of 13 fears in U.S. adults that also had four answers. I blogged about it in a post titled YouGov survey of U.S. adults found they most commonly were very afraid of snakes, heights, public speaking, spiders, and being closed in a small space. The four fear levels were:

1 = Not afraid at all

2 = Not really afraid

3 = A little afraid

4 = Very afraid

A fear score also can be calculated from those four answers for each question tabulated in the Acrobat .pdf file of their data. The formula simply is a weighted average of the percentages expressed as proportions:

Fear Score = [ 1x(% for Not Afraid at All) 
                      +  2x(% for Not Really Afraid)
                     + 3x(% for A Little Afraid) 

                     + 4x(% for Very Afraid)]/100

A bar chart shows the results. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). The five greatest fears were snakes (2.8), heights (2.63), public speaking (2.55), spiders (2.41), and being closed in a small space (2.24). Flying on an airplane (2.13) was 6th, mice (1.96) was 7th, needles and getting shots (1.90) was 8th, darkness (1.84) was 9th, and crowds (1.83) was 10th. Blood (1.74) was 11th, dogs (1.64) was 12th, and clowns (1.46) was 13th.

Another bar chart shows the sum of the percentages for Very Afraid and A Little Afraid. It ranks the results in the same order as the Fear Score chart, with the slight exception of darkness and crowds.

As shown above, those Fear Score results only covered 1.34 of the available 3.0 range, and didn’t include the highest 1.2 or the lowest 0.46. Adults were not even A Little Afraid of anything.

The fear score gives a balanced view of the answers for a question. Take public speaking as an example. 23% were Not Afraid at All, 22% were Not Really Afraid, 36% were A Little Afraid, and 20% were Very Afraid.

UPDATE  November 15, 2015

Another bar chart shows how the Fear Score for public speaking varied with gender, age, region, family income, politics, and ethnicity. One significant result is that women (2.70) were more afraid than men (2.36). 

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