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Fear: Interesting Facts and Stats

Phobias are not anything to be taken lightly or ignored. Too many times, individuals with extreme fears are told by family and friends to buck up and go with the flow. The problem is that in some individuals, phobia creates so much fear that many freeze up  when the fear kicks in.

Searching for help online or even at the library can be disappointing as research on the many different types of phobias is difficult to find. has compiled a wealth of information on the many different phobias. We want to help those with phobia learn more about the problems they or a loved one may be living with on a daily basis.

Fear stats in the United States may be different than in other countries. However, phobia statistics can still be used to provide insight as well as provide answers to some of the questions many may have.

Basic Phobia Facts and Statistics

Everyone fears something at different times in their lives. However, those suffering with phobias are often plagued with fear their entire lives.

  • 7% of individuals in the United States suffer from phobia.
  • Ten million individuals in the United Kingdom suffer from phobia.
  • New phobias have been recognized in recent years including food neophobia, eco-anxiety, carbophobia, nomophobia, and editiovultaphobia.
  • In 2020, the most searched for phobia on the internet was anthropophobia which is the fear of other people.
  • In the same year, those in Florida feared germs.



Fear of Public Speaking (Glossophobia) Statistics

Fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, affects around 20 million individuals in the United States. It can be hard to believe, but 77% of the American population suffers from glossophobia.

Many individuals with the fear of public speaking will never receive help. Glossophobia statistics reveal that less than 10% of the US population seeks treatment.

Three out of four individuals worldwide fear speaking in public.

Anxiety is often the most prevalent symptom prior to speaking in public. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of US residents suffer with this symptom before speaking in public. This particular fear is more prominent than the fear of death.

Fear of public speaking for nearly 90% of sufferers is often triggered by:

  • Not being prepared
  • Inability to manage the fear

Agoraphobia Statistics

Agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces, is most often a secondary phobia. In the majority of cases, agoraphobia occurs in tandem with another phobia such as social phobia. Agoraphobia often causes individuals to fear leaving their homes. Open spaces such as airports or malls can bring on anxiety and panic attacks.

Agoraphobia is seen more often in women than men with the range being up to three times more likely. Scientists believe that the range could be related to sex hormones. On the other hand, some believe the cause of seeing more women with agoraphobia could be due to abuse as a child, mental abuse, or physical abuse. Agoraphobia statistics worldwide show that women suffer with more severe symptoms and often show more harmful experiences. Men with agoraphobia have a higher rate of suffering from alcoholism.

Agoraphobia is more prominent in teenagers than in adults and children. Research has shown that 2.4% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer with the phobia. Girls have a higher rate of developing agoraphobia than boys between the same ages.

Symptoms often seen in teenagers include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Belly aches
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the arms
  • Pain in the legs
  • Tiredness
  • More discomfort and pain associated with puberty
  • Flushing
  • Perspiring
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling
  • Startled more easily

Claustrophobia Statistics

Claustrophobia, or the fear of small, enclosed places, effects nearly 5% of the US population.  This fear can and often does lead to situations where the person may experience panic attacks in elevators or even in a large department store. The fear does not have to involve a small space, but rather the feeling of being trapped such as in a large crowd where the individual cannot see an escape route.

Some of the latest claustrophobia statistics are:

  • Around 13% of individuals suffer panic attacks during an MRI.
  • Twice as many suffer from claustrophobia in the United Kingdom compared to the US.
  • The number one symptom of claustrophobia is loss of control.
  • Most individuals do not seek help with this phobia but rather avoid the places that may cause a panic attack.
  • Double the number of women suffer with claustrophobia than men.
  • Individuals with above average intelligence are more prone to claustrophobia development.
  • Caucasians on average are 25% more likely to develop anxiety which often leads to claustrophobia.
  • The 15-mile-long tunnel in Norway, known as the Lærdal Tunnel, offers three pull-offs so those with claustrophobia can destress. The tunnel chambers are lit for a calming effect and turn-arounds are provided, so drivers may go back if they choose.

Dental Fear Statistics

If you fear going to the dentist, you’re not alone. More than 75% of adults in the United States suffer fear and anxiety associated with dental appointments.

A few of the most common reasons for dental fear:

  • Pain
  • Past experience at the dentist office
  • Sounds at the office…the drill especially
  • The odors at the office
  • Embarrassment
  • Scraping teeth
  • Getting a shot
  • The numbness
  • Getting a tooth pulled
  • Having a panic attack
  • Gagging
  • Choking

Fear of Flying Statistics

Close to 40% of people worldwide have a bit of anxiety before getting on a plane, however, some individuals have a fear of flying so intense that they suffer actual panic. Many individuals can manage the fear, while around 5% have anxiety so crippling they are unable to fly. Many of the individuals with clinical aerophobia state the fear began around the age of twenty-seven.

A few statistics regarding the fear of flying:

  • Over 25 million individuals in the US have aerophobia.
  • Twenty-one million United Kingdom resident have a fear of flying.
  • Anxiety is a huge part of any phobia, including the fear of flying.
  • A decrease in flying occurred when more individuals began fearing flight after two plane crashes occurred in 2015.
  • In 1986, 11% of individuals getting on planes used alcohol to calm their nerves before and during the flight.
  • Fear of flying increases if the weather is bad or if the plane experiences turbulence.
  • In a recent study of the fear of flying, the results showed that 28% of men and 38% of women were afraid to fly.
  • A Facebook poll listed the main reason people were afraid to fly was the fact that they were not in control.
  • 65% of individuals over the age of 65 stated they believed it was safer to drive than to fly.

Fear of Change Statistics

Change happens every day of our lives and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. However, there are those that cannot tolerate the thought of change and may struggle with anxiety or panic if something in their lives has changed.

  • In the UK, 27% of people stated that change caused them to feel panicky.
  • Close to 25% stated they were scared to change their routine, or even a portion of their routine.
  • 22% kept their employment even though they hated it.
  • 15% would not begin a new relationship.
  • Missing out on an exciting adventure because of fear of change was identified in 71% of individuals in a study by FreeAgent.
  • In the same study, 19% were afraid of online banking.

The fear of change causes individuals to stay in jobs they hate, never upgrade electronics, and stay with the old way of doing things even if there have been improvements that would make things easier.

Fear of Failure Statistics

Most individuals are afraid of failing at something. Children are afraid of failing a test, teenagers are afraid they will not make the cut to be a cheerleader or a football player, and adults are afraid they will fail at their job or their own business. These fears seem normal, however, in the US, around 31% of adults fear failure so much that they have panic attacks or symptoms of anxiety. At this point, fear of failure becomes a phobia known as atychiphobia.

Other fear of failure stats include:

  • Starting a new hobby is not on the horizon for 46% of individuals in the United Kingdom due to the fear of failure.
  • Ninety percent of CEO’s state that the majority of their stress is due to the fear of failure
  • Fear of failure has more than 50% of entrepreneurs in the UK afraid of failure during the startup period.
  • In Australia, 24% of adults have stated they are afraid of failure at work.
  • In Canada, 82% of students studying science agree that fear of failure can be attributed to social pressures.
  • A recent study shows that close to half of Americans ignore their goals due to fear of failure.
  • 40% of millennials are afraid of failure.
  • 31% of gen Xers are afraid of failure.
  • 23% of baby boomers suffer with fear of failure.

Exam Fear Statistics

In the past, exam fear was often combined with the fear of failure. However, this phobia has grown so much among students that it is now a separate phobia known as testophobia.

In 2019, a study regarding exam stress and children reported 15% of students were anxious when they had to take a test in elementary school. The anxiety increases to 16.4% for those with higher grades. Severe symptoms of exam fear often prevents students from doing well in school and brings on feelings of inadequacy. Such feelings may cause some to never reach their full potential or their employment goals.

Symptoms of testophobia or exam fear include:

Fear of Crime Statistics

Crime occurs everywhere, and it’s a good idea to pay attention to your surroundings in order to stay safe. However, there are some individuals that have a fear of crime that stops them from enjoying life even though many of their thoughts are completely irrational.

A recent study in the US revealed the top fears of Americans which include being safe on the internet, walking alone at night, identity theft, and mass shootings.

Another study showed that four out of ten Americans have excessive fear they may be victims of a violent crime such as robbery, rape, or murder. This fear leads many to dress plainly so as not to draw attention, lock doors more often, and purchase guns.

Being so afraid of crime can lead to other phobias, such as agoraphobia, if the individual doesn’t receive help.



Fear of Death Statistics

Fear of death, also known as thanatophobia, is one of the most common phobias. A recent study revealed that around 10% of people worldwide become nervous and anxious when thinking about dying.

A look into other stats regarding the fear of death:

  • Senior citizens fear death less than younger individuals, the opposite of what most believe.
  • Individuals that have a moderate religious belief fear death more than others.
  • Adventurous individuals that place themselves in danger often fear death.
  • Individuals in poor health fear death.
  • Individuals that were confident and supportive in their relationship feared death less than individuals that were controlling and anxious.

Fear of Snakes Statistics

You may hear many individuals say they are afraid of snakes, and about one-third of adults worldwide have a fear of snakes. On the other hand, the fear is only severe in around 3% which is then classified as ophidiophobia.

A few interesting statistics on snake fears:

  • The most feared creature in Australia is the snake with 30% of adults admitting the fear.
  • In the United States, 21% of adults say the scariest animal is the snake.
  • Fear of snakes can be managed with proper therapy.
  • Individuals could be diagnosed with ophidiophobia if they have a severe fear of snakes that causes interruptions in their daily lives or prevents them from doing their normal activities.
  • A Gallup poll in 2001 revealed that 51% of adults have the fear of snakes.

Fear of Missing Out Statistics

The fear of missing out is more prominent with one generation more than others. Recent studies show that 69% of millennials have the fear of missing out. This often drives this generation to purchase new items and to try new things as soon as they hear about or see the items online.

Fear of missing out among millennials is 56% fear missing events, 59% fear missing travel opportunities, and 29% fear missing out on new foods.

Millennials admit that after experiencing an episode of fear of missing out they have purchased the item in question. This fear causes 40% of millennials to go into debt or to spend more than they can afford.

According to Forbes, 65% of millennials do not own a credit card while 69% purchase clothing they do not need to ensure they do not miss out. Sixty-six percent (66%) of millennials are not loyal to one brand but would switch if they were offered a 30% discount.

According to PR Newswire, 56% of individuals fear missing out on significant updates, news, and events.

Fear of Police Statistics

Fear of police is seen more often in insecure communities. Many fear the police because of race or citizenship status. Recent media reports involving law enforcement have also contributed to an increase in a fear of police.

Survey results of individuals living in a Latino community:

  • 45% stated that if they were a victim of a crime, they would be afraid to contact the police due to their immigration status.
  • 45% would not volunteer any information if they witnessed a crime.
  • 45% were not likely to report a crime.

With undocumented immigrants the percentages of fear of the police increases. On the other hand, even those born in the United States are fearful of police because of immigration enforcement.

African Americans have a strong fear of police. Many are concerned that they or another family member may become a victim of deadly force by a police officer. Sixty-three percent (63%) of black Americans fear police violence while only 21% of white Americans fear police violence.

Fear of Sharks Statistics

Being so afraid of sharks that you freeze at the mention of one is an irrational fear or phobia known as galeophobia. It might not be irrational if you live near an area of the sea where shark sightings are common, but in most cases, many of us will never encounter a shark.

Fear of shark stats:

  • Four out of ten US citizens will not go swimming in the sea or oceans as they are afraid of sharks.
  • 51% of adults in the United States fear sharks.
  • A recent survey showed that 40% of men were afraid of sharks while 55% of women were scared of sharks.
  • Many seniors over the age of 55 are terrified even thinking about sharks.
  • 55% of individuals in the northeastern United States fear sharks.
  • 48% in the southern United States fear sharks.
  • 51% of Midwesterners in the US fear sharks.
  • 50% of Westerners in the US fear sharks.

Fear of Heights Statistics

There are many different fears and phobias across the globe. One of the most common is fear of heights. This fear, when severe, can cause panic or anxiety attacks. Fear of heights, known as acrophobia, affects around 3% of the population with twice as many women affected than men.

Many people believe that acrophobia only occurs when a person has to use an elevator and go to upper floors. This is far from the truth. Some individuals feel panicky when walking up only a couple of flights of stairs.

A few interesting acrophobia statistics:

  • Most sufferers stay at ground level due to the fear.
  • The symptoms of acrophobia mimic vertigo with dizziness.
  • Bathmophobia may be associated with the fear of heights as it is the fear of slopes and stairs. Anxiety can occur as the slope increases overhead.
  • Climacophobia could also be associated with acrophobia as it is the fear of climbing.
  • Fear of flying is also seen with those suffering from acrophobia.

Fear of heights stats disclose that symptoms of other phobias are also seen with the acrophobia with at least one difference. When an individual suffering from the fear of heights has a panic or anxiety attack, they may crawl as to lower their body from the height they fear.




Social Phobia Statistics

It can be hard to believe that some individuals are actually afraid of socializing with others. Being in a large crowd or even being around more than a couple of people can cause the individual to suffer with anxiety or panic.

Social anxiety is often overlooked by those suffering with the disorder which causes them not to seek help. Individuals may suffer in silence and stay at home.

Interesting facts regarding Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD):

  • Around 7% of the population will suffer from social anxiety sometime during their lifetime.
  • Social anxiety normally develops between the ages of twelve and seventeen.
  • 22% of individuals suffering from social anxiety often cannot work and therefore rely on disability benefits.
  • Many individuals with social anxiety often quit school and either cannot work or choose a job that ensures they are alone most of the time which is often low-pay-grade employment.
  • Social anxiety causes more people to call in sick to work.
  • Suicide rates are higher among those with social anxiety.
  • Around 2% of those affected with social anxiety are women.

Emetophobia Statistics

Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. The fear is so intense it can lead to anxiety or panic attacks, both of which may actually cause incidents of vomiting. (Anxiety disorders include nausea or vomiting as symptoms.) Those that suffer with emetophobia are afraid to go around others, because they fear they may catch a virus that will cause them to vomit. This disorder can lead to other forms of phobia and cause the person to isolate and not receive treatment.

Emetophobia facts:

  • It is hard to diagnosis emetophobia because many anxiety disorders have the same symptoms.
  • Eating disorders, panic disorders, and even health anxiety may be diagnosed before emetophobia.
  • It is believed to develop during the teenage years.
  • The focus of the phobia may be only worry that they will become ill, or some may be concerned others around them will get sick.
  • Cognitive therapy was used in a study to treat emetophobia with two-thirds of the group stating they could function better.
  • Seeing a photo of someone vomiting can bring on a panic attack.

Mysophobia Statistics

Mysophobia, also known as germaphobia, was reported to effect 12.5% of adults in the United States in 2017. This  fear of germs is one of the most common phobias. Individuals that suffer from mysophobia cannot even consider the thought of visiting the hospital for fear of germs.

Symptoms of mysophobia include:

  • Severe fear of germs
  • Anxiety when they consider being exposed to germs
  • Avoiding environments where germs may be present
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Trouble breathing

Clown Phobia Statistics

Clowns are often seen at circuses, festivals, and other places where people are supposed to be having fun. Clown phobia is not a laughing matter and has been around for centuries. Throughout history, these painted individuals have many times been linked to jokers but also to a darker persona.

Clown facts:

  • In 2500 BCE, the Egyptian pharaohs were entertained by pygmy clowns.
  • Court jesters were present in medieval Europe.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, the clown seen was the pantomime throughout Britain and Western Europe.
  • In the US during the 1960s, Bozo the Clown was so popular that there was a ten-year wait to receive tickets to the show.
  • Ronald McDonald came to be in 1963, but health activists claimed he was a bad influence. Now, he does more physical activities than just eating hamburgers.

With the above being said, it may be hard to believe anyone would be afraid of clowns. However, the fact that these individuals are painting their faces is a good reason to worry. What could they be hiding? Are they going to harm us?

  • A study performed with children showed that all 250 children did not want to see any décor in a hospital depicting clowns.
  • 43% of residents in the US do not like clowns.
  • 33% of eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds are afraid of clowns according to research performed by Vox.

Dog Phobia Statistics

Dog phobia, also known cynophobia, is more common than one might believe. One person out of three has a severe fear of dogs. Many of us love our furry friends and cannot understand why anyone else would not like our dog. It might seem odd that some are so afraid they cross the street when they see us ahead walking our dog. The truth is that dog phobia is very common.

  • In a recent questionnaire of 30 children and 100 adults to learn where their dog phobia began, it was shown that those afraid of dogs and those not afraid showed the same past with dogs, including attacks.
  • The majority of individuals that were afraid of dogs had little or no contact with dogs.
  • Most adults agreed their fear began in childhood.
  • Children that feared dogs often reported being given warnings about dogs.

Bug Phobia Statistics

Individuals that have bug phobia may become so fearful that they will not go outside. They may stay away from any place where they may see a bug. Seeing a photo of any type of bug may make them run away. Bug phobia is listed among the many anxiety disorders. These phobias can cause the individual to suffer a variety of other issues that may lead to various health problems if not treated properly.

  • 7% of women are afraid of bugs.
  • 2% of men have bug phobia.
  • The fear of bugs is known as entomophobia, acarophobia and insectophobia.
  • Bug phobia includes all kinds of creepy crawlers such as spiders, roaches, or even butterflies.
  • A person may only fear spiders but can be included in the group of those with bug phobia.
  • 6% of people worldwide are afraid of spiders.




Your Fear Goes Up and Down

Are you someone who would rather climb the stairs than take the elevator? You call it squeezing in a workout after being sedentary the whole morning. Or perhaps you claim it's a faster route. These are both typical, normal, and acceptable reasons. But what if you need to be in the conference room on the eleventh floor in five minutes, and you're wearing your business suit and wingtips? Would you still prefer to take the stairs? If your answer is yes, then maybe it's time to take a closer look at your reasons for avoiding elevators. Elevators stir all sorts of emotions in passengers. From the discomfort of closeness to strangers to the sensations in our gut, elevators can be a source of the heebie-jeebies for many, but for some, they can also be a source of terror. Let's dig a little deeper into the latter, and see what this terror is all about and what can be done to manage it. To begin with, does being inside an elevator give you chills or the sweats? Or does it trigger an unpleasant memory? Perhaps you remember movies you've watched where something terrible happens inside an elevator. From Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Final Destination 2, or the king of all elevator horror films, 2010’s Devil, the elevator becomes witness to something sinister and horrible. And you want nothing to do with any of it. You know that you're not claustrophobic. You can deal with heights just fine, too. And you know that you're not going to be trapped inside. All of these contribute to a fear of elevators—but they don't apply to you. Yet being inside one does something to you. It's hard to explain.

What is the Fear of Elevators Called?

What you have is a fear of elevators, which is called elevatophobia. It is most commonly triggered by an experience of getting stuck inside either due to a power outage or technical maintenance. Hearing about other people's experiences or watching a movie about similar circumstances can prompt a fear of elevators getting stuck with you inside. Usually, claustrophobics and agoraphobics may also develop elevatophobia because the triggers and objects of these fears are related. Claustrophobia is the fear of closed and cramped spaces, while agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped without any means of escape. Put the two together, and the elevator becomes the perfect combination of both phobias. The space is limited and closed, with only one means of entry and exit. You can add another point of access if you consider climbing the cables like they do in the movies, but that certainly isn't ideal.

Symptoms of Elevatophobia

If for some reason an elevator stops due to an outage or some technical difficulty, passengers with elevatophobia may go into full panic mode. Even if the maintenance team advises that it will just be a matter of minutes, by then, the person's mind has become irrational with the fear of the elevator falling, being stuck for hours, or other unpleasant thoughts. You would expect a person to exhibit the following physical symptoms: Additionally, you would be filled with that overwhelming anxiety where you feel that you have zero control over the situation. You start fearing the unknown and are filled with negative thoughts about death and imminent doom. You become irrational and unresponsive.

Possible Complications of Elevatophobia

When the panic sets in, the possibility of emergencies related to pre-existing conditions may make themselves known. This might include serious health crises like heart attacks or asthma attacks. When this happens, fear becomes a medical emergency. Elevator rides do not last long; it's just a matter of minutes or even less. But the fact that a person can escalate from panic to a near fatal medical situation classifies the fear of elevators as a 'hard phobia.'

Trying Some Self-Help Methods

Your fear of elevators can likely interfere with your social and work life and relationships. Not everyone understands that elevatophobia, like most phobias, can be crippling. But don't be disheartened. Depending on the level of your fear and level of control, you can gradually face and manage your phobia. Here are some recommendations you can try:
  1. Make a List of Everything that Entails Riding in an Elevator This is a systematic approach to getting over your anxiety. By following a step-by-step process, you can identify where the fear kicks in at its strongest. You can write a list of steps like pressing the topmost button and waiting to arrive on that floor, watching as the door closes and opens, being alone inside the elevator, or having delays with the doors opening. Now try doing the opposite. For example, face away from the door or occupy yourself with your phone so that you are distracted.
  2. Create Your Fear Ladder Although the name says fear of elevators, it is not the whole process that scares you. There are just phases and parts of the elevator riding experience that cause you to panic. So go back to the list you initially created and label the fear level you feel. You can do it numerically, too, like ten being 'really scary,' six, 'manageable scary,' and one, 'not scary at all.' You can put the corresponding fear levels so you can focus more time and effort into activities that are more scary to you.
  3. Face Your Fear By now, you have identified what scares you the most. You can try repetitive action to minimize your fear and increase your sense of ‘normalcy’. Remember that the longer you expose yourself to your fear, the better you get at handling your emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Pushing yourself too fast and too soon can backfire. Modify your pace and go slower instead.
  4. Talk About Your Fear People by nature, unfortunately, are not quick to offer understanding and support. You need to tell them what's wrong before they can empathize. Talk to someone who you trust and ask for their support, especially in the initial phase of overcoming your fear. If you are too afraid to ride the elevator alone, you can ask them to go with you, and before you realize it, you are on your floor, and there was no indication of panic.
  5. Learn To Be Patient Be patient with yourself and your predicament. This is, after all, your fight against fear. It might take hundreds of elevator ride practices before the fear gets under control. Even then, there might be some hesitations and episodes of nervousness. These are acceptable and expected, so cut yourself some slack and congratulate yourself for every progress.

Seeking Professional Help

Along with self-help, you can always enlist a medical professional's aid to support you with your elevatophobia. Talking to someone who has experience with similar cases can be comforting, because you know that you are not alone, and this situation can get better. Talk to your doctor about the severity of your fears and the symptoms that you experience. Explain how you deal with it in an attempt to control it. An exam and a health history are made to ensure that there are no unrelated or underlying problems that your symptoms might mask. Usually, phobias like this are approached with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Your doctor will talk about these options with you, and it's entirely up to you, with your doctor's recommendation, what you want to pursue. For psychotherapy, the most common type is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to help you find different ways of behaving, thinking, and reacting when about to step inside an elevator or when already inside it. With medications, there are beta blockers and benzodiazepines, but note that these can have side effects. Whatever these side effects are, you should promptly share it with your doctor.

Simple Tips to Overcome Elevatophobia

Elevators are not perfect, but their likelihood to malfunction, fall, or get stuck is very low. If you are not fully confident with this information, you can help overcome your elevatophobia by learning common elevator safety tips and basic elevator operations. These should help curb your mild fear until you become more self-assured. In addition to that, here are some of the things that you can do to gradually overcome your fear of elevators—both in getting on and riding one.


Yes, elevatophobia can be a challenge in today's world, but don't allow the elevator to win. Don't let it stop you from taking a job on the top floor or attending a social gathering on the rooftop. Sure, you can take the stairs if you insist and arrive winded and sweaty, with the party about to wrap up. But is this the quality of life you seek? Elevators are designed to make life easier. There are guaranteed ways to help you overcome elevatophobia. Take the first step and seek help. Soon, you’ll see yourself breezing through the floors with those arduous stair climbs little more than a memory.
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