Fear is an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, real or not. Fear also can be described as a feeling of extreme dislike to some conditions/objects, such as: fear of darkness, fear of ghosts, etc. It is one of the basic emotions.

Fear may underlie some phenomena of behavior modification, although these phenomena can be explained without adducing fear as a factor in them. Furthermore, application of aversive stimuli is also often ineffective in producing change in the behaviour intended to be changed. Fearing objects or contexts can be learned; in animals this is being studied as fear conditioning, which depends on the emotional circuitry of the brain.

Fear inside a person has different degrees and varies from one person to another (see also phobia). If not properly handled, fear can lead to social problems. People who experience intense fear have been known to commit irrational and/or dangerous acts.

Some philosophers have considered fear to be a useless emotion with uniformly bad consequences; other thinkers note the usefulness of fear as a warning of bad situations.

Degrees of fear:

Fear can be described by different terms in accordance with its relative degrees. Fear covers a number of terms - terror, fright, paranoia, horror, persecution complex, dread,

Distrust - A mild stage of fear, more like caution than fear. A lack of trust in an object or person. For example, having mistrust in a rickety old bridge across a 10,000ft drop.

Paranoia - It is a term used to describe a psychosis of fear, related to perception of being persecuted. This perception often causes one to change their normal behaviour in radical ways, after time their behavior may become extremely compulsive.

Terror - Terror refers to a pronounced state of fear, where someone becomes overwhelmed with a sense of immediate danger.


Facial - In fear, ones eyes widen and the upper lip rises. The brows draw together and the lips stretch horizontally.

Duenwald, Mary. "The Psychology of ...Facial Expressions" Discovery Magazine Vol. 26 NO. 1

Cause of fear:

The causes of fear can vary to a surprising degree; fear is to a certain extent a "cultural artefact" (Clifford Geertz). In 19th century Britain, one of the biggest fears was of dying poor, unmourned, unremembered, and possibly ending up on an anatomist's dissection table. By the early twentieth century, this had given way to a fear of being buried alive, to the extent that those who could afford it would make all sorts of arrangements to ensure this would be avoided (eg glass lids, for observation, and breathing pipes, for survival until rescued). During the Second World War, fear of death by bombing was much less than during World War I, even though many more bombs fell; air wardens would complain of civilians continuing to gossip on street corners instead of taking shelter. Similarly, when trains were new, fear of them was such that for a time the law required a man with a red flag to walk in front of it to warn the public; today, millions die in road accidents yet governments struggle to instil a real fear of drunk driving or speeding.