What does the world fear the most?
Living with a phobia can seriously impact your life by limiting your daily activities and causing anxiety and depression. Having a complex phobia like agoraphobia can make the thought of leaving your house a battle in itself.
Whether you are afraid of spiders or heights, having personal fears are normal. But which phobias are the most common in the world, and what animals are we scared of the most?
After the success of our original index, we will analyze global and US search volumes to reveal the world’s biggest phobias, the most unusual, as well as the animals that are the most feared. We will also look at the phobias which have shown the highest increase in searches globally, underpinning which fears have grown the most as of 2023.
Some fear cats, which may seem a little crazy to the major cat lovers out there. Before we present our research, we want to convey the importance of maintaining a healthy diet for your cat, no matter what cat breed you have. Nutritional cat food can help keep your cat healthy, and by taking out cat insurance, you can avoid hefty vet bills.
The World’s Biggest Phobias
By analyzing 38 countries on their most-searched phobias, we will reveal the world’s biggest phobias by looking at their overall global searches.
While the list of specific phobias is potentially nonexhaustive, we created a list of all known phobias to explore where in the world these phobias are most common. We investigated Google searches from around the world to show you what each country is most afraid of when it comes to irrational fears, which animal they are most afraid of, and which unusual phobias each country exhibits.
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Annual Global Searches|
|1||Trypophobia||Fear of clustered patterns of holes||4,433,050|
|2||Agoraphobia||Fear of public spaces or crowds||2,133,250|
|3||Thalassophobia||Fear of deep water||1,593,210|
|4||Xenophobia||Fear of strangers or foreigners||1,566,590|
|5||Hypochondria||Fear of illness||1,209,960|
|6||Claustrophobia||Fear of confined spaces||808,500|
|7||Acrophobia||Fear of heights||345,310|
|8||Hydrophobia||Fear of water||317,020|
|9||Nyctophobia||Fear of the dark||242,210|
|10||Philophobia||Fear of love||131,470|
Total Global Search Volume: 4,433,050
Trypophobia was the most-searched phobia on our list and was the most common phobia for almost all of our countries except Costa Rica. Trypophobia is a fear of clustered patterns of holes, such as those seen in a honeycomb, a lotus seed pod, or even aerated chocolate.
The phenomenon, which likely has an evolutionary basis, may be more common than anticipated. With a huge volume in searches of over 4.4 million worldwide, trypophobia dominated other more common phobias and has also become ever more popular on social media. The TikTok tag for trypophobia has over 1 billion views, indicating that feeling an aversion to holes has gone viral. However, scientists believe the phobia is likely to be driven by disgust rather than fear.
Total Global Search Volume: 2,133,250
Agoraphobia scored second place for the biggest phobias in the world with over 2.1 million searches worldwide. Agoraphobia is distinguished from social anxiety, which causes a person to worry about being judged or feeling embarrassed in social situations. People with agoraphobia tend to fear having anxiety attacks or losing control in specific situations. It can cause individuals to fear entering crowded places, especially where no escape route exists.
Ten countries recorded agoraphobia as their second most-searched phobia behind trypophobia. The fear of crowded places was expressed in Iceland, Australia, Ireland, and Canada to name a few.
Total Global Search Volume: 1,593,210
Thalassophobia, the fear of deep and large bodies of water, accounted for over 1.5 million global searches, claiming third place in the ranking. Water fear came up as the second-biggest phobia for 18 countries behind trypophobia, including Finland, Belgium, Austria, and Poland. The deep water phobia was searched more than 1.5 million times worldwide.
The phobia could be triggered by past traumatic events in or around water, including never learning to swim, being told scary stories of the ocean, or witnessing a shark attack. Thalassophobia is by no means an irrational fear, as drowning is the world’s third-leading cause of unintentional-injury deaths. According to the World Health Organization, drowning causes an estimated 236,000 deaths every year.
Total Global Search Volume: 1,566,590
Xenophobia is the dislike or fear of foreigners or strangers, and it was searched over 1.5 million times in the last year, claiming fourth place for the world’s biggest phobias. Two countries had this fear as their second most-searched phobia, Japan and Singapore. In 2005, a United Nations report expressed concerns about racism in Japan and it also stated that the government’s recognition of the depth of the problem was not total.
Total Global Search Volume: 1,209,960
Hypochondria appeared as the fifth biggest phobia in the world, with over 1.2 million Google searches, but didn’t come out as the highest in any country. Hypochondria is a type of anxiety disorder, which causes people to get very worried that they are seriously ill or about to become ill.
The World’s Biggest Animal Phobias
Being terrified of snakes or even dogs are more common than you might think, as it’s possible to develop a phobia of anything, including animals. However, some animal phobias are much more prominent than others, and they tend to fall into categories. These include predators, ‘disgusting’ animals, and superstition-based fears.
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Number of Global Searches|
|1||Arachnophobia||Fear of spiders||535,880|
|2||Cynophobia||Fear of dogs||109,400|
|3||Zoophobia||Fear of animals||83,220|
|4||Entomophobia||Fear of insects||64,370|
|5||Ophidiophobia||Fear of snakes||58,470|
|6||Ailurophobia||Fear of cats||33,430|
|7||Ornithophobia||Fear of birds||33,110|
|8||Alektorophobia||Fear of chickens||18,820|
|9||Herpetophobia||Fear of reptiles||10,220|
|10||Batrachophobia||Fear of amphibians||9,130|
Total Global Search Volume: 535,880
The fear of spiders is the most common animal phobia across the world, with 36 countries holding spiders as their biggest animal phobia. Arachnophobia was searched nearly 536,000 times in the last year, indicating that many people are not a fan of the eight-legged species.
But what is it about the creatures that cause such panic when we come face to face with them? According to Psychology Today, the most likely reason for the phobia is something called the ‘disgust’ emotion, which developed in humans as a way to prevent illness and disease. It is triggered by vomit, feces, and ‘fear-relevant’ animals, such as rats, slimy animals, such as slugs, and namely, spiders.
Total Global Search Volume: 109,400
Cynophobia, the fear of dogs, is the second most common animal phobia in the world, accounting for 0.67% of total searches and was searched over 109,000 times. People with this phobia feel intense fear and anxiety when thinking of, seeing, or encountering a dog. In more severe cases, it can cause people to avoid places where dogs might be. This phobia is likely to stem from a childhood memory of having a bad experience with dogs, and genetics or environment can play a role in the development of cynophobia.
Total Global Search Volume: 83,220
Zoophobia was the third most common animal phobia with 83,220 worldwide searches. It was the most commonly searched animal phobia in Chile and Luxembourg. Zoophobia is an extreme fear of animals, and many people with this phobia fear one specific type of animal, while others may fear many types or all animals.
The World’s Most Common Unusual Phobias
For the most unusual phobias, we recorded what we felt was the strangest phobia that had a relatively high search request for each country compared to the rest of the phobias listed.
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Number of Global Searches|
|1||Megalophobia||Fear of large things||347,060|
|2||Autophobia||Fear of being alone||111,310|
|3||Gynophobia||Fear of women||60,290|
|4||Androphobia||Fear of men||56,710|
|5||Technophobia||Fear of technology||50,900|
|6||Anthophobia||Fear of flowers||39,060|
|7||Chromophobia||Fear of colors||34,690|
|8||Pogonophobia||Fear of beards||30,050|
|9||Ombrophobia||Fear of rain||20,070|
|10||Microphobia||Fear of small things||18,850|
Total Global Search Volume: 347,060
Megalophobia, the fear of large things, such as buildings, statues, and vehicles, was the most-searched unusual phobia in 34 countries and was searched over 347,000 times.
Megalophobia also extends to large animals like elephants or whales and large open spaces like stadiums or theatres. People with megalophobia generally fear more than one kind of large object, which can be difficult when traveling to new places.
Total Global Search Volume: 111,310
The fear of being alone, better known as autophobia, was the second most common unusual phobia with 111,310 searches, and the most common in Norway. It is defined as anxiety about being isolated from other people, and a person with this phobia doesn’t necessarily have to be physically alone to have symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic could have had a considerable impact on those experiencing anxiety, particularly with the countless lockdowns and being stuck indoors alone. Hence why there is a relatively high search volume.
Total Global Search Volume: 60,290
Gynophobia is the dislike or fear of women, and this unusual phobia is said to have arisen to define the fear men experience of being humiliated by women, namely by emasculation. Meaning, to deprive a man of his masculinity or male identity.
Symptoms of this phobia include having an overwhelming fear or terror when someone with the phobia sees or thinks about women. This anxiety is likely to get worse when a woman gets physically closer to the individual. Although this phobia did not take place as the most common unusual phobia in any country, it still had a relatively high search volume with over 60,290 entries across the world.
The Biggest Phobias in the US
Having revealed the biggest phobias in the world, we’ve also investigated the most common phobias affecting people in the US. Research from the National Institute of Mental Health found that around 12.5% of adults in the United States experience a specific phobia at some point.
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Number of US Searches|
|1||>Trypophobia||Fear of clustered patterns of holes||6,454,460|
|2||Agoraphobia||Fear of public spaces or crowds||4,428,490|
|3||Hypochondria||Fear of illness||2,415,090|
|4||Xenophobia||Fear of strangers or foreigners||2,102,730|
|5||Thalassophobia||Fear of deep water||1,871,060|
|6||Claustrophobia||Fear of confined spaces||1,118,370|
|7||Acrophobia||Fear of heights||462,570|
|8||Hydrophobia||Fear of water||440,930|
|9||Nyctophobia||Fear of the dark||277,370|
|10||Mysophobia||Fear of dirt and germs||227,270|
Total Global Search Volume: 6,454,460
Trypophobia dominated the search volumes in the US as well as the world, accounting for over 6.4 million US searches. All 50 states searched for this phobia the most, which emphasizes the commonality of this phobia.
Total Global Search Volume: 4,428,490
Agoraphobia, the fear of public spaces or crowds, was the second most common phobia in the US as well as the world, with 4.4 million US searches. It was the second most common phobia in 50 states, showing that crowded spaces are a fear for many Americans. The phobia can begin in childhood but tends to start in the late teen years and early adulthood before the age of 35. It is more common in females than males.
Total Global Search Volume: 2,415,090
Hypochondria is the third most common phobia searched in the US and was searched over 2.4 million times in the last year. It differs from our global data, which had a fear of deep water as its third biggest. The fear of illness is when you spend so much time worrying you’re ill, or about getting ill, that it starts to take over your life. It’s related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which can severely affect day-to-day activities.
The Biggest Animal Phobias in the US
Animal phobias are common in the United States, with celebrities like Tyra Banks confessing to a fear of dolphins, Orlando Bloom possessing a fear of pigs known as Swinophobia, and Scarlett Johansson’s fear of cockroaches. But which are the most common in the US overall?
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Number of US Searches|
|1||Arachnophobia||Fear of spiders||660,250|
|2||Cynophobia||Fear of dogs||139,550|
|3||Zoophobia||Fear of animals||125,690|
|4||Entomophobia||Fear of insects||101,290|
|5||Ophidiophobia||Fear of snakes||72,120|
|6||Ailurophobia||Fear of cats||64,730|
|7||Ornithophobia||Fear of birds||34,520|
|8||Alektorophobia||Fear of chickens||23,850|
|9||Herpetophobia||Fear of reptiles||13,070|
|10||Equinophobia||Fear of horses||8,260|
Total Global Search Volume: 660,250
Similarly to our global findings, the fear of spiders was the most commonly searched animal phobia in every state, with over 660,000 searches. According to the Neurological Institute, about 3% to 15% of the United States population had arachnophobia as of 2021.
Total Global Search Volume: 139,550
Searches for cynophobia accounted for 139,550 total searches, indicating that some Americans possess a fear of dogs. Although, in the US, there was a smaller percentage of searches for this phobia compared to global data.
Total Global Search Volume: 125,690
Zoophobia was the third most searched animal phobia in the US, with almost 126,00 searches nationwide. Although zoophobia as a whole is quite rare, types of fear are common. Symptoms of this phobia can occur while being close to an animal and include having an increased heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath and even feeling lightheaded or faint.
The Most Unusual Phobias in the US
There were some similarities between the weirdest phobias found on a global scale and in the US, with a few differences.
|Rank||Phobia||Condition||Number of US Searches|
|1||Megalophobia||Fear of large things||441,010|
|2||Autophobia||Fear of being alone||180,540|
|3||Somniphobia||Fear of sleep||140,550|
|4||Gynophobia||Fear of women||79,230|
|5||Androphobia||Fear of men||72,920|
|6||Ombrophobia||Fear of rain||30,200|
|7||Chromophobia||Fear of colors||29,350|
|8||Amaxophobia||Fear of riding in a car||28,060|
|9||Technophobia||Fear of technology||25,030|
|10||Aphenphosmphobia||Fear of being touched||23,890|
Total Global Search Volume: 441,010
Megalophobia once again topped our unusual phobias list, with 441,010 nationwide searches. Megalophobia causes a person to experience an intense fear of large objects.
Total Global Search Volume: 180,540
Auptophia held the second-highest search volume for the most unusual phobias in the US, with 180,540 searches. Autophobia is the fear of being alone that could be caused by traumatic childhood experiences and may be rooted in abandonment issues.
Total Global Search Volume: 140,550
The US differed from our global data for its third most common unusual phobia, with the fear of sleep accounting for 140,550 searches. People with somniphobia may worry or obsess about how they can avoid sleep and may be afraid of what happens when they do sleep. Worries can include having a nightmare or sleepwalking. individuals with this fear go to great lengths to avoid sleeping.
The Phobias on the Rise
Having researched the biggest phobias in the world and across the US in the last year, we’ve also analyzed the phobias that have seen the biggest increase in searches compared to two years ago.
|1||Cacophobia||Fear of ugliness||201.9%|
|2||Atychiphobia||Fear of failure||130.8%|
|3||Melanophobia||Fear of the color black||62.3%|
|4||Obesophobia||Fear of gaining weight||58.5%|
|5||Microphobia||Fear of small things||38.1%|
|6||Glossophobia||Fear of speaking in public||35.5%|
|7||Aerophobia||Fear of flying||35.0%|
|8||Batrachophobia||Fear of amphibians||34.3%|
|9||Amaxophobia||Fear of riding in a car||33.1%|
|10||Scolionophobia||Fear of school||32.7%|
Year-on-Year Increase in Searches: 201.9%
The phobia with the biggest increase in phobias is somewhat of an unfortunate one. Cacopohibia is an intense fear of ugliness, which causes people to fear becoming ugly. It can cause symptoms of panic and anxiety when seeing or thinking of something ugly, and it is one of the few phobias that are subjective rather than objective. Cacophobia witnessed a huge increase in searches of 201.9%, with 51,900 global searches between 2021 and 2022 which jumped to 156,700 from 2022 to the end of 2023.
Year-on-Year Increase in Searches: 130.8%
Another phobia that could be deemed just as gloomy is atychiphobia, the fear of failure. Atychiphobia saw an increase of 130.8% in searches between 2021 and 2023. If a person experiences atychiphobia, they have an irrational and persistent fear of failing in life. It may be part of another mood disorder, anxiety disorder, or eating disorder. People who are perfectionists are likely to experience fear multiple times throughout their lifetime
Year-on-Year Increase in Searches: 62.3%
Melanophobia is an unhealthy fear of the color black or dark colors. This phobia is specific, which means it is an intense and overwhelming fear of a particular event. It is likely to develop because black symbolizes mourning, evil, plagues, void, loneliness, and death. This phobia witnessed an increase of 62.3% in searches in the last 24 months.
Using Google’s Keyword Planner, we explored search data for a curated list of all known phobias using Healthline’s List of Phobias, by using their real name (e.g. arachnophobia). This data is correct as of 13/03/23.
We recorded the most searched-for phobia and the most searched-for animal phobia. We found that the most-searched phobia in both the world and the US happened to be trypophobia, which dominated most volumes.
For the most unusual phobia, we recorded what we felt was the strangest phobia that had a relatively high search request for each country compared to the rest of the phobias listed.
For whole countries, however, this happened to mostly be megalophobia. While there were stranger phobias in these countries, their search data was often significantly less than megalopolis.
For US states, we found that almost every state recorded trypophobia as their biggest overall phobia and zoophobia as their biggest animal phobia. The most unusual phobia was megalophobia. Due to the similar results, we decided to not take state-by-state data, and instead looked at the biggest phobias overall in the USA, to offer a more varied perspective of the different phobias.