Speaking coaches often claim that public speaking is the greatest (or really the most common) fear. But that’s often not backed up by survey data. On August 11, 2013 I blogged about how Public speaking was ranked sixth by a survey of workplace phobias in Singapore.
On October 31, 2019 YouGov had an article titled Singaporeans’ greatest fears revealed that reported results from a survey of 1,033 people done in October 2019. They asked whether 15 items were feared a lot, a little, or not (at all).
Results for a lot of fear are shown above in a bar chart. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). Drowning (53%) was the most common fear, followed by fire (48%), reptiles (47%), cockroaches (42%), germs (41%). Death and heights (40%) tied for sixth, followed by ghosts (39%), public speaking (35%), spiders (31%), and clusters of holes (25%). Then came enclosed spaces (23%) and a three-way tie between darkness, dentist, and loneliness (21%).
There were some large gender differences – cockroaches were feared by twice as many women as men (56% of women and 28% of men), reptiles were feared by 61% of women and 32% of men, but 40% of both women and men feared death.
Results for a little fear are shown in a second bar chart. Darkness (57%) was the most common fear, followed by loneliness (56%), clusters of holes and enclosed spaces (both 53%), public speaking (52%), and germs (50%). Dentist and spiders were tied for sixth (49%), followed by ghosts and heights (47%), fire (45%), death (44%), reptiles (43%) drowning (39%), and cockroaches (37%).
Results for the sum (a lot or a little fear) are shown in a third bar chart. Fire (93%) was the most common fear, followed by drowning (92%), germs (91%), reptiles (90%), and a tie of heights and public speaking (87%). Ghosts (86%) were sixth, followed by death (84%), spiders (80%), cockroaches (79%) a tie between clusters of holes and darkness (78%), loneliness (77%), enclosed spaces (76%), and the dentist (70%). At Business Insider Rachel Genevieve Chia discussed these rankings in an article titled What spooks you? Singaporeans’ greatest fears are drowning, fire, and germs, survey shows.