What’s Really Scaring Americans this Halloween

October 25, 2019

October is traditionally a time for fiends, fears and frights. But move over Dracula – a new survey shows that more Americans find unanticipated expenses and losing internet access scarier than Halloween monsters.

We conducted an online survey of n=1,000 Americans on October 16th and 17th, 2019. In the survey, we asked Americans how scary they found 30 different items, from everyday scenarios to fantastical events to some of Halloween’s most classic creeps and crawlies.

Overall, some of America’s biggest fears center around household finances. Over half of Americans find the prospect of losing their job (53%) or a member of their family getting sick (52%) very scary. And about a third found unexpected expenses, like a car breaking down (34%) or a refrigerator breaking (30%) very scary as well.

Q: How scary would each of the following
situations be for you or your household?
% Saying “Very
You lose your job 53%
A member of your family unexpectedly gets sick 52%
A major pipe bursts in your home 52%
Your car breaks down and needs a repair 34%
Your refrigerator breaks and needs to be replaced 30%

Unexpected expenses are particularly scary for households who don’t have savings or income to spare. According to our research, 52% of Americans currently live paycheck to paycheck, and 58% say that an unexpected expense of $400 would be stressful for their household.

But it’s not just money matters giving Americans goosebumps – many are also terrified of suddenly losing access to technology. Four in ten say it would be very scary to lose all access to the internet for a month (40%), and three in ten would find it very scary to suddenly lose their smartphone (29%). Fewer fear being banned from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram specifically, though two in ten (22%) find this very scary.

Q: How scary would you find each of the
following scenarios?
% Saying “Very scary”
Your internet goes down and you can’t get online
for a month
You lose your smartphone and can only ever use a ‘dumb phone’ 29%
You get banned from Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram for life

Compared to surprise expenditures and losing the internet, many traditional Halloween monsters seem downright harmless. While three in ten Americans say that spiders are very scary (30%), fewer say so about classic villains like vampires (24%), ghosts (24%), clowns (21%), or witches (20%). Even Halloween staples like mummies (20%) and graveyards (19%) scored lower than every expenditure or technology scenario we tested.

Q: How scary do you find each of the
% Saying “Very scary”
Spiders 30%
Vampires 24%
Ghosts 24%
Bats 23%
Clowns 21%
Witches 20%
Mummies 20%
Graveyards 19%

So remember – if you want to give your neighbors a scare this Halloween, keep the monsters out of your yard, and find an inflatable repair bill or dead Wi-Fi signal instead!

PDF version of this posting can be downloaded here.

PDF version of the graphics can be downloaded here.

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