Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-29-2023

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Ann Gordon


Over the past five years, the United States of America (US) has experienced events which highlight societal weakness and faults in the foundations of the US system. This research paper focuses on the level of fear a participant has of civil unrest in the US, how that fear has evolved following the events of 2020, including the January 6th Insurrection and 2020’s summer of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. Factoring the age, political affiliation, and socio-economic status of the study’s participants into the findings, is a way to understand where the participant’s fear may be stemming from. My research uses the 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 American Fear Surveys conducted by Chapman University’s Henley Lab.

My analysis of the data from the American Fear Surveys indicates that younger individuals, Democrats, and those with lower socio-economic status tend to have greater levels of fear concerning civil unrest in the US. Moreover, analyzing the data from the American Fear Surveys and comparing it throughout the past 5 years, shows evidence of increased levels of fear following the events that transpired between the 2019 and 2021 American Fear Surveys, with my research focusing on the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the BLM protests in 2020.

There is potential that a certain level of fear regarding potential civil unrest is expected in American society, due to America’s democratic system and the accompanying civic duty of political and social activism. The findings of heightened fear following the January 6th insurrection and the summer 2020 BLM protests might serve as a cautionary signal to America, suggesting that the current system may be faltering and require change. Additionally, the fact that younger and less socio-economically stable citizens are expressing this fear implies that systemic changes within our society may be on the horizon.


Presented at the Fall 2023 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.