By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
The Pew Research Center conducted a study recently asking thousands of people from a range of 40 countries to identify what the “greatest threat to the world” was. Interestingly enough, the answers to these questions were very different across the board.
The participants in the study had five options to choose from: religious and ethnic hatred, inequality, pollution and environment, nuclear weapons and AIDS and other diseases.
Countries like Nigeria and Palestine felt that religious and ethnic hatred were one of the top threats to the region while countries like Pakistan and Japan felt nuclear weapons were one of the top threats. The United States, however, felt that inequality was the biggest threat.
The researchers claim that participants usually saw the biggest threats as those closest to them. In other words, rather than being fearing issues overseas, people felt most threatened by the issues surrounding them in daily life.
To me, the study is interesting because it shows how self-aware people are of the world around them. What people fear is what is close to them, rather than fearing what is unknown. It also shows that perhaps people need to start paying attention to issues that aren’t as pressing in their region.
The study also pointed out that in the United States itself, Republicans and Democrats were split in the issues they cared about. Republicans were more likely to name ethnic hatred as their top threat than Democrats, while Democrats named inequality (the division between the rich and the poor) as a top threat. The independents were more split on issues.
Although it was surprising that people chose to fear threats close to home, the threats that countries identified as the top threat were predictable. The news, it seems, coming out of each country helps shape what their top threat will be.
Regardless, it’s worth noting that these percentages often aren’t incredibly far apart. Many of these issues were close to vying for the top threat.