Nuclear, Biological Attack Seen As Top Threats

Nuclear, Biological Attack Seen As Top Threats

Ukraine war has already ignited the fear of a nuclear or biological war. This fear of nuclear or biological threat rose nine points from last year to a global country average of 75% (+9 points from 2021), according to a new Ipsos poll.

The survey found that this was even higher than in 2017 when North Korea tested a nuclear bomb and concern rose from 66% in 2016 to 71% in 2017.


Nuclear and biological threat is seen as a real threat by large majorities of adults in every country surveyed. About 84 per cent in Thailand, 82 per cent in Turkey, 81 per cent in Japan and South Africa say that these are the major threats.

Countries showing the largest increases from last year in concern about a nuclear, biological or chemical attack are Germany (+19 pts to 73%), France (+19 pts to 63%) and Japan (+17 pts to 81%).


Though cyberhacking is not at present the No. 1 real threat, it has remained a leading concern for years and only fell one percentage point year over year to 74%. Since 2015, hacking for fraudulent or espionage purposes has been seen as the threat most widely found to be real except for in 2020 (the year the COVID-19 pandemic started) and 2022 (the year Russia invaded Ukraine).

The proportion of citizens listing cyber attacks as a real threat declined five points or more in just six of the countries surveyed this year, including: India (-9 pts to 72%), Hungary (-9 pts to 50%), Sweden (-7 pts to 78%), Colombia (-6 pts to 76%), the Netherlands (-6 pts to 64%) and Canada (-5 pts to 75%).

Hacking is considered a real threat for 50% or more of respondents in all the countries surveyed, but there are significant rises in only three countries in 2022 — Japan (+7 pts to 67%), Australia (+5 pts to 84%) and France (+4 pts to 83%).


Majority (85%) of the people surveyed across 33 countries on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform between September 23 and October 7, 2022, think the world became more dangerous over the past year — this is the highest percentage since Ipsos started asking the question in 2014 (83%) and is up significantly from 74% in 2018.

At the same time, the percentage of people who think more things are getting better these days than are getting worse dipped slightly to 47% (-2 pts) in 2022 and is four percentage points lower than 2017 when Ipsos first started asking this question.


Though the world is in the grip of devastating climatic conditions, the percentage of people on average globally feeling that a major natural disaster in their country is a somewhat/very real threat, dipped by 3 points from last year to 66%.

Concern about other threats barely budged year over year at a global level, including: a terrorist attack taking place in their country (-1 pt to an average of 61%); the personal safety and security for themselves and their family being violated (+1 pt to an average of 61%); and a violent conflict breaking out between ethnic or minority groups in their country (-1 pt to an average of 59%).


People seem ready to put the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror, as the percentage of people worried about a major health epidemic breaking out in their country dropped 10 percentage points year over year to a global average of 60% in 2022.

Meanwhile, amid the invasion of Ukraine the percentage of people who view armed conflict between their country and another nation as a somewhat/very real threat rose (+4 pts to 50%) in 2022 and is up dramatically by 10 percentage points or more in eight countries. This South Africa (+10 pts to 56%), Canada (+12 pts to 45%), Great Britain (+15 pts to 63%), Italy (+15 pts to 48%), Belgium (+16 pts to 47%), Sweden (+18 pts to 34%), Germany (+22 pts to 55%) and Japan (+23 pts to 72%). Throughout the world, many citizens continue to be skeptical that “the appropriate levels of security and protection could be provided by [their] government or its agencies could respond effectively” to perceived real threats.


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