Fear Factor

Search Story- Over the summer, I was helping my dad put up new gutters on the side of our house before a storm and all of a sudden I heard my sister start whining and complaining that a bug landed on her hand. I looked down from the ladder and saw my sister rapidly try to shake the bug off, whereas my brother stood there laughing at her. During class when we had to think about at we want our topic for this I-Search paper to be, I had no idea what to do until the night before my topic proposal was due. I was actually going to do something about languages because I love languages, but someone else in the class said she was going to something on languages, and I did not want to copy her so I changed my topic to organized crime in Europe after watching the movie Taken.

I still did not feel that this was the best topic, so I went home and looked at what my latest searches on Google were until I got to a search on fears. I had looked up fears because I have previously came to a conclusion that I do not have any of which I am aware of. This story of my sibling instantly came to mid, as I did not know why my sister has a fear of bugs whereas my brother does not, and I decided I was going to do my project on where fears come from, why people have them, and why other people do not have any. As I started doing research, I noticed a lot of information was very repetitive, and that I was not getting the exact type of information I was looking for. Most of the online searches and novels I found had plenty of information on different kinds of fears, but only a few that I found had information on why we have fears and where they come from.

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I decided to slightly change my topic to common fears that people have and why people have similar ones, and that I would add on where they come from and why people have them instead of focusing my whole project on specifically why some people do not have fears. This seemed a lot more interesting to me as well. This idea that worked out great because I could use all of the articles and novels I had found, without having to focus on only a few articles on where fears come from and why people do or do not have them. This information will not only educate me on a topic of interest, but it will also answers questions that I have had for a while. Research Plan and Execution- The first thing I did when I figured out what topic I was going to write about was to research it at home. This project was the perfect reason to finally do some research while figuring out why people have common fears.

I found about eight articles on this topic before being interrupted with college applications for a couple of weeks, and then being interrupted once again with quarterlies and studying. When I got back to researching, I started wondering where I would get my interviews from. I examined all of the previously found articles for an author of whom I could contact. I could not locate any contact information until I realized that it would be idea to e-mail an author of a novel because I still also needed to find a good novel for my research. I also found that a mother of my friend’s works as a physiologist, and that she has great insight on the topic of fears. The search for a novel on my topic was the most difficult part of the research because so many of the novels on fears are fiction, adventure, or horror novels instead of informational texts.

I later went to my local library and looked for novels on fears, but I had the same problem there, with only finding fiction, adventure, or horror novels on fears. To further complicate things, I finally found a non-fiction novel on fears, and the psychology of fears, but when I went to the author’s website, the only e-mail address present stated ” for media contact only”. Eventually, after another week of research, I found my second source for interview, but unfortunately she never responded back to me. Findings- The most interesting finding on my topic was the most common fears that people have. The most common fears are the fear of being in darkness, heights, open spaces or leaving home, being in closed spaces, being in crowded spaces, germs, being around unfamiliar people in social situations, and strangers (Miller 1).

I was shocked that fears of animals, certain foods, an the dentist also ranked highly on the list of most common fears. I had no idea so many people shared these fears. According to Jeana Bryner, author of a website on fears, between nine and twenty percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety of fear (Bryner 1). Also, according to Michelle Brown, a local psychologist for over twenty years, the majority of the American population has some type of a fear, although a lot of our fears diminish by adulthood. I also found the fear of certain animals to make more sense when I found that dogs and snakes were the most feared animals.

“Another notable fear”, said Michelle Brown, ” is the fear of flying in planes, which affects twenty-five million Americans.” There is a difference in the most common fears in America and the world, because while Americans seem to fear darkness and heights the most, the most common fears in the world are the fear of open spaces, public embarrassment, and being in a car (BBC 1). I found out that there is a difference in fears and phobias. Fears are a lot more common than phobias because phobias are extreme fears, where symptoms like anxiety and panic attacks occur (Hanh 12). “More than ten percent of people in the United States suffer from phobias, making this the most common mental disorder amongst the population.

” said Michelle Brown. Also, a lot more women tend to suffer from phobias than men. Genetics may also contribute to fears and phobias, but it is uncertain how much this has to do with learning them from parents, siblings, and friends and how much is inherited (Munford 1). According to the National Phobics Society, childhood environments, physical factors like thyroid problems, stress, and biochemical imbalances and changes in the levels of chemical messengers in the brain can also contribute to the development of phobias (BBC 1). “More commonly, the start of a phobia may be triggered by a frightening situation or place, which caused you to feel anxious at the time.” stated Michelle Brown.

“These feelings of anxiousness and fear are associated with that place or event that first caused it, and so the more times one encounters this place or event, the worse the feeling becomes.” Also, fear is an adaptive response to things that posed a danger to us, like snakes, sickness, and predatory people, so there is a biological reason to fears (Orford 1). Many fears start during childhood where our brains are running wild with thought and ideas. “This is why we are most afraid of incarnations of predators or disease – basically “somebody or something that looks like it might have the capacity to do you harm,” Schaller said. “There’s probably a reason people carve pumpkins to look angry-looking.” Skeletons, spastic movements, and ghostly pallor can all freak us out, not to mention blood and other bodily effluences, because they all signify disease.

“Alien is a classic because it taps into both these kinds of fears. Big jaws, big teeth, big claws are the classic things that can kill you in predators.” Alien also has glistening skin, like reptiles and sick people, so it packs a double whammy in the fear department. ” (Orford 1). Reflection- Overall, this project has been very interesting and informative.

I am glad I found out what the most common fears are, and am also surprised at what they are. I am also glad as to learn why people have fears and where they come from. I finally got the answer to the question of where fears and phobias come from and why we have them because I have had this question for a while. This was the correct topic for me because I found myself deleting a lot of already-typed information in the “Findings” section.