Top 40 bizarre British fears revealed

29 October 2014

Multi-storey carparks, spiders and flushing airplane toilets top survey of Brits' bizarre everyday fears.

With news this week breaking about a woman suffering from ‘Simon Cowell-itis’ (a unique, bizarre fear of seeing the music mogul himself on the small screen) OVO Energy has surveyed 2,000 Brits to find a list of all the peculiar things that strike fear into the hearts of the nation.

Wasps, octopuses and multi-storey car parks have been named among a list of the strangest things which strike fear into the hearts of women, it emerged yesterday.

A fear of the dentist and the dark burden many, while the thought of going on a rollercoaster and looking at old embarrassing photos of themselves also made the list of women’s 40 weirdest fears.

Interestingly, the research found that spiders prove the most common everyday fear for both sexes, while being trapped in a lift and even flushing airplane toilets were also included.

Men proved more affected by heights and the dreaded thought of crying in public was more prominent for them.

The research into the little scares experienced by British men and women, which was conducted by energy firm OVO, saw women cite basements and moths among their fears, while the thought of using public toilets led many to feel unease.

Other things to have a lady on edge included dogs off the lead, while being pulled to the stage for karaoke or the dread of getting singled out during a stand up comedian’s act is something us Brits are horrified at the thought of.

People who stare too much, the tube and opening the monthly bills were among the other fears that emerged for the average modern woman.

Yesterday Justin Haines of OVO said: “Everyone is unique so there are inevitably many different aspects in life, both big and small, that can worry or scare someone.

“There’s luckily a huge support network out there to help people overcome fears, from the common to the more unusual, ensuring these worries don’t impact on everyday life. Talking fears through with friends, family or even just a friendly face and voice at the end of the phone can often help put tensions at ease.”

The study also found the prospect of ageing, thought of breaking up with their current partner and thunder and lightning among the top 40 fears for the country’s men and women.

While an unease around pigeons and a fear of beards narrowly missed finishing in the top 40 fears for women.

Financial worries or the thought of redundancy plagued men while constant worry over their hairline and whether it’s receding is a top 10 fear for Britain’s men.

The thought of speaking in public sends a shiver down the spine of many chaps, while holding a baby, plane take-offs and landings and having to step up and be best man at a wedding were other fears inside their top 40, along with the mother-in law.

And huge blokes at the gym and, strangely, mannequins narrowly missed out on the top 40 little scares for men.

The results also showed the average person experiences two scares a week in some form, while one in six people studied said they spent more time afraid than they should.

Brits deemed taking their driving test as the scariest situation they’ve had to face in life, while becoming a parent, going on a first date, asking the boss for a pay rise and meeting their partner’s parents for the first time also have us holding our nerve.

More than a quarter also said that thinking about life admin and the complexities of energy bills and switching suppliers worried them.

Justin Haines of OVO continued: ''There are lots of little things that can make us uneasy. Despite being extremely money savvy, a large percentage of Brit consumers tend to think that switching energy suppliers is a scary process with 62% reporting to have never switched supplier or tariff.

“In fact, it couldn’t be simpler; taking only a few minutes to enter your details online – leaving the rest to companies like OVO. People who have never switched could save up to £250 a year.”


  1. Spiders
  2. Going underwater
  3. Being trapped in a lift
  4. Underground tunnels
  5. Being pulled up for karaoke
  6. Heights
  7. Wasps
  8. Debt
  9. Being singled out during stand-up comedy
  10. The dentist
  11. Ageing
  12. Being lonely
  13. Take-off/landing in a plane
  14. Basements
  15. Rough sea
  16. Energy bills / prices
  17. The dark
  18. Rollercoasters
  19. Mice
  20. Moths
  21. Driving in a storm
  22. Dogs off the lead
  23. Vomit
  24. Motorways
  25. The tube
  26. Blood
  27. People who stare
  28. Thunder and lightning
  29. Masks
  30. Breaking up with partner
  31. Multi-storey car parks
  32. Public toilets
  33. Being home alone
  34. Octopus
  35. Psychics/mediums
  36. Flushing toilets on planes
  37. Birds of prey
  38. Simulation rides
  39. Old embarrassing photos of yourself
  40. Attics


  1. Spiders
  2. Going underwater
  3. Heights
  4. Failure
  5. Public speaking
  6. Lifelong injury
  7. The dentist
  8. Balding/receding
  9. Debt
  10. Wasps
  11. Ageing
  12. Underground tunnels
  13. Being singled out during stand-up comedy
  14. Energy bills / prices
  15. Take-off/landing in a plane
  16. Bankruptcy
  17. Being trapped in a lift
  18. Rough sea
  19. Breaking up with partner
  20. Vomit
  21. The tube
  22. Crying in public
  23. The dark
  24. Being best man
  25. Driving in a storm
  26. Blood
  27. Basements
  28. Holding a baby
  29. Mice
  30. Moths
  31. Clowns
  32. Getting married
  33. Daughter getting a boyfriend
  34. Thunder and lightning
  35. Public toilets
  36. Seeing an ex-girlfriend
  37. Birds of prey
  38. Ghosts
  39. Psychics / mediums
  40. The mother-in-law


  1. Taking your driving test
  2. Becoming a parent for the first time
  3. Going on a first date
  4. Asking the boss for a pay rise
  5. Meeting your partner's parents for the first time


  1. 62% of UK customers report never having switched supplier. Source: Ofgem State of the Market Assessment
  2. Ofgem believes that non-switchers are being over charged by up to £250 per year. Source: as above

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