Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-4-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Ann Gordon


Predicting the end of the world has been a practice for thousands of years. In recent years, it was seen in 1891 with the Mormon Armageddon, 2000 with Y2k, and 2012 when the Mayan calendar was believed to have ended. While these moments in history are often seen as entertainment by the greater population, there are many groups of people that support and live by the idea that the world will end in their lifetime or the near future. This paper will develop ideas of why people form a fear of the world ending, and the public opinion around this fear.

The Chapman Survey of American Fears’ data shows that only 16.4% of Americans are fearful of an apocalypse; while this number may seem low, there are a higher percentage of people who are afraid of the extinction of animals and plants, economic collapse, and warfare including nuclear and biological weapons (“America’s Top Fears 2018” 2018). There is an overarching theme that people are fearful of everyday problems facing the world, and there is a fear that in the near future the world will never be the same. Apocalyptic theory splits the believers in two groups: one group believing that the world will inevitably end, the other group believing that humans are contributing and working towards ending the world internally. This paper will explore these hypotheses: 1) Fear of the world ending is the result of religious affiliation and political ideology, 2). Fear of the world ending is correlated to fear of the use of nuclear weapons, and 3). Those who are fearful of the apocalypse are more likely to have emergency preparedness kits in their home.

Fear of the apocalypse carries importance today because this fear can create distrust amongst communities, but can also create trouble for elected officials. Should more Americans be fearful of the apocalypse or the end of the world, there is potential for extremely differing opinions on how to vote towards environmental or economic policy and how governmental budget should be spent. Furthermore, those fearful of the end of the world can decide to not vote at all.


Presented at the Fall 2019 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.