I often read claims like this one or that one that public speaking supposedly is the number one fear in North America – without reference to any data from Canada. Near Halloween we commonly see surveys about fears, and this year there was an article posted on October 30, 2017 at the web site for the Angus Reid Institute titled Scary boo: From spiders & snakes to death & big government, Canadians reveal what scares them most. Their results from a survey of 1504 adults are shown above in a horizontal bar chart.(Click on it to see a larger, clearer view).
What is unusual about these results is that this question was Open-ended (free response). Surveys more commonly ask Close-ended (fixed alternative) questions which are multiple-choice. Open-ended questions are ‘essay questions’ that allow for an emotional response. But answers to open-ended questions must be processed further (sorted or categorized). Most other questions in this survey were Close-ended and about trick or treating on Halloween.
Back on June 15, 2015 I blogged about another Angus Reid survey with Close-ended questions in a post titled Snakes are the most common fear for Canadians, followed by heights and public speaking.