Saturday, October 22, 2016
According to the 2016 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of Corrupt (federal) Government Officials and only Slightly Afraid of the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare)
In the 2016 Chapman Survey on American Fears 1,511 adults were asked 79 questions that began with:
“How afraid are you of the following?”
They were asked to choose from one of four answers (fear levels):
1] Not Afraid
2] Slightly Afraid
4] Very Afraid
In the Chapman blog post about the survey on October 11th titled America’s Top Fears 2016 there was a Complete List of Fears ranked by the sum of the percentages for Afraid and Very Afraid (and also shown alphabetically). The most common fear was Corrupt (federal) government officials (60.6%). But the press release on that same day was incorrectly titled What Do Americans Fear Most? Chapman University’s Third Annual Survey of American Fears Released. It instead should have said What Do the Most Americans Fear? Many others like USA Today repeated that incorrect claim - their article was titled Survey reveals what Americans fear the most.
HOW AFRAID ARE AMERICANS OF CORRUPTION AND OTHER THINGS?
Where was that fear score for Corrupt government officials? Was it way up at 3.75, enough to make us Scream like that man in the famous painting by Edward Munch (shown above). Or was it 3.5, or 3.25, or just 3.0 (Afraid). A fear score can be calculated from the answers for each question in the Detailed Results. The formula simply is a weighted average of the proportions:
Fear Score = [ 1x(% for Not Afraid) + 2x(% for Slightly Afraid)
+ 3x(% for Afraid) + 4x(% for Very Afraid)]/100
I discussed Fear Scores in an October 30, 2015 blog post titled 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.
The Fear Score for Corrupt government officials was just 2.678, or not even Afraid (3.0).
TOP 40 AND BOTTOM 40 LISTS OF FEAR SCORES
I calculated all the the Fear Scores. Two bar charts show results for the TOP 40 and the BOTTOM 40. Click on them to see a larger, clearer view. The highest score, for Corrupt government officials, is just 2.678, which isn’t even at Afraid. Often the rankings based on Fear Score and the Sum of [Very Afraid + Afraid] percentages are similar.
For The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was ranked tenth based on the Sum of [Very Afraid + Afraid] percentages, the Fear Score is 2.001 - or just Slightly Afraid. The rank based on a Fear Score is just 25th.
For Public speaking the Fear Score is 1.933, or not even Slightly Afraid and was ranked the 33rd highest. The very lowest Fear Score for Clowns is only 1.26.
WHAT WAS THE RANGE FOR THOSE FEAR SCORES?
As is shown above in a line graph, those fear scores cover a range from a low of 1.26 to a high of 2.68. Data cover just under half the total range of 3.00 you might expect to find (and only cover the lower part of that range). The highest score is not very frightening at all. It reminded me of a 1965 song by The Radiants - (It) Ain’t No Big Thing.
PEOPLE I LOVE DYING OR BECOMING SERIOUSLY ILL WERE NOT ON LAST YEAR’S LIST OF QUESTIONS. IS THIS SOMETHING NEW FROM CHAPMAN U?
No, it instead is borrowed from something very old. Back in 1965 James H. Geer had a magazine article published on The Development of a Scale to Measure Fear. He found that for both male and female university students the greatest fear was Death of a Loved One. For females, Illness or Injury to Loved Ones was second, and for males it was third. Speaking Before a Group was sixth for males and seventh for females. See my October 10, 2012 blog post titled In a 1965 study of university students, fear of public speaking ranked sixth for men and seventh for women.