This is what Americans fear most in 2017 (it's not zombies)

A Chapman University study reveals America's deepest fears, and it's not all clowns, sharks and zombies.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This chart shows Americans' top 10 fears for 2017.

Chapman University

What are you afraid of? Spiders? Heights? Clowns? Researchers at Chapman University in Orange, California, released the results of the 2017 Survey on American Fears to show what scares Americans the most. It turns out US citizens are worried about everything from money issues to climate change. 

The fear list, released on Wednesday, comes from a poll of a random sample of 1,207 US adults. The wide-ranging survey asked about fears around sharks, terrorism, pollution, zombies, government corruption, strangers and a host of other potentially scare-inducing topics. The rankings come from figuring the percentage of respondents who say they are "afraid" or "very afraid" of a particular item. 

The study's top fear for 2017 is "corruption of government officials," with 74.5 percent of those polled expressing their fear of it. This same fear topped the 2015 and 2016 surveys. It leads by a good margin over the runner-up, which is "American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare" with 55.3 percent. Next in line are "pollution of oceans, river and lakes," "pollution of drinking water" and "not having enough money for the future."

Chapman University sociology professor Christopher Bader sees a big trend toward environmental fears in the 2017 study. "Many of the top 10 fears this year can be directly correlated to the top media stories of the past year," he says

The first Fear Survey came out in 2014. The top five fears in that year were 1) walking alone at night; 2) becoming a victim of identify theft; 3) safety on the internet; 4) being the victim of a mass/random shooting;  5) public speaking. 

Tech-related fears didn't make the top five list for 2017. "Identity theft" dropped down to the 14th position, with 41.9 percent of respondents saying they were afraid or very afraid of the prospect. Cyber-terrorism came in 19th place, while computers replacing people in the workforce logged in at the 42nd position. 

Supernatural concerns ranked pretty low on the list of 80 fears. Only 5.3 percent of those polled are afraid of zombies, while just 4.3 percent fear ghosts. Despite the popularity of the new Stephen King adaptation "It," only 6.7 percent fear clowns. In case you need some incentive to join the clown-fearing group, here's a picture of Pennywise to encourage you:

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