Prof.Dr. Abdurrahim Özgenoğlu
Yayın Kurulu :
Prof.Dr. İsmail Bircan
Prof.Dr. Oya Batum Menteşe
Uzman Nilüfer Ünal
Editör: Nilüfer Ünal
3 Ayda bir yayınlanır.
International Journal of
Learning & Development
ISSN 2164-4063 2012, Vol. 2, No.
Accepted: January 5, 2012
Published: March 23, 2012
Fear Culture II
Miss Nevin MERT
Psychology-Public Relations & Advertisement
What is fear? Is it something innate or
learned or ever something very complex to understand? Fear takes
an important place in human lives, and it also has different
definitions. Even though we experience and use the concept such
as fear, we do not exactly know what fear ever means. However,
why do we experience fear? So, this research is done in order to
understand the concept of fear in more detailed. The purpose of
the study is to see what kind of fear types do we have, and
where fear ever comes from. In the research we explain fear in
terms of developmental, humanistic, behaviourist, social aspects
and also in terms of public relations. Since this study is done
in Turkey, the issues are taken according to Turkish culture as
well. However, the aim of the study is to make observation on
the issue whether Turkey experiences fear or not. On the other
words, whether Turkey is a fear culture in its own. In order
to observe it (whether Turkey is a fear culture or not), we used
the cultural aspects of the particular regions such as the
observations of West and East parts of the country. The findings
showed that even though the fear does exist, the types and
reasons of fear show huge differences.
fear; fear types; Turkey as a fear culture
As it is widely known, everybody lives with
some expectations. However, these expectations might show some
changes parallel to situations. In every part of our lives, we
come across with different problems. Therefore, these problems
always affect us not in a way we expect. At that point, fear
appears. Observing its first capital letters, the case such as
False Evidence Appearing Real could be found. However, its
one of the worst problems humans are facing since centuries. It
makes people do weird things. It makes people feel insecure,
uncertain and anxious, it can even destroy relationships.
So, it is one such emotion that plays an important part in our
lives and is pre-programmed into all animals and people as an
instinctual response to potential danger.
When a person experiences fear, the amygdala and the
hypothalamus (the certain areas in the brain) are immediately
activated and appear to control the first physical response to
fear. Chemicals such as
adrenaline and the stress hormone that is cortisol are released
into the blood stream causing certain physical
reactions such as rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure,
tightening of muscles, sharpened or redirected senses, dilation
of the pupils (to let in more light), increased sweating.
The aim of this article is to find out the causes and results of
fear in our country and whether our country experiences the
fear culture from developmental, humanistic, behaviourist,
social aspects and in terms of public relations.
There are so many explanations of fear,
however, it is important to mention that fear and phobia are
closely related with each other. So, to explain fear, it is a
good idea to look at the types of phobias such as
a fear of pain;
a fear of fire or
a fear of water (for more information look at Appendix).
Approaching from the Developmental Psychology aspect, the
first thing that is going to describe is why children experience
fear. In general there are two types of fears.
The first one is instinctive fear
and the second one is learned fear. Children until 4
years-old experience the instinctive fears. When the baby hears
a loud voice, s/he leaps, because at that moment s/he
experiences fear (the first type of fear). These fears could
also be fanciful like seeing monsters that are going to eat them
or the similar shapes. There is also the second type of fear
which is the learned one. This fear is learned either from the
parents, or from the environment, or from television. For
instance, the mother of the child screams when she sees a white
toy, and the child generalizes it as if all white toys are
harmful and begins to cry. The fears learned from friends are
also sourced by parents. For example, the parents of a child can
say If you do not sleep, the monsters will come to eat you.
So, the child hearing this sentence will share it with his/her
friends and as a result his/her friends will also think about it
and will experience the same fear. However, there are some fears
which do not change during the life-span. In general, phobias
such as Algophobia (a fear of pain), Pyrophobia (a fear of fire)
are more permanent. Conversely, the fears experienced by child
(fear of monsters) are more temporary because they disappear
after a certain time. After
looking at these types of phobias, it is clear that people at
every moment of their lives may experience fear which can affect
Approaching from Psychosexual Developmental
aspect, S. Freud mentioned the basics of inborn fears.
According to him (Benjamin B. Lacey, An Introduction, NY:
McGraw-Hill, 469-471), there are five stages in the Psychosexual
Development. The first stage which includes the phallic stage is
important for us at this point because it includes the Oedipus
complex describing inborn fears. In this stage (3 to 6 Years)
gratification is focused on the genitals, and where the Oedipus
complex exists. According to Freud, the unconscious wish of all
male children to kill their fathers and sexually possess their
mothers is the description of the Oedipus complex. However, they
cannot do this because of the castration anxiety (the fear of a
young boy that his father will punish his sexual desire for his
mother by removing his genitals). Another point is that
experiencing fear generally goes parallel with the people age.
Nevertheless, to guess the time when the child is going to
experience fear is too hard because there are past experiences
and current psycho-physiological and environmental conditions as
causes of fear. According to the research done between children
in rural regions, %75 of fear contains the existence of animals.
However, in West countries (in urban regions), there is a survey
done between children of 9 years-old and %40 of fear cause due
to bodily harm, robbery, child thieves, death and animal
As it is seen, when the animal existence takes the first place
in rural regions, in urban regions it could take the last
In terms of Personality Development,
according to Erikson (Benjamin B. Lacey, An Introduction, NY:
McGraw-Hill, pp. 326), there are eight stages and after
observing each of them, we can say that every stage has
experienced fear. In each stage something is in contrast with
something. For example, in the first stage that is basic trust
versus mistrust it is seen to experience fear, because here, a
person learns to feel comfortable and trust parents care.
However, opposite to this, due to the mistrust, a person may
develop a deep mistrust to the world that is perceived to be
unsafe. So, as it is seen, a person experiences his first fears.
Developmental aspect, Piagets perspective,
for improvement of childs cognitive and linguistic conceptions,
there are four stages (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete
operational, and formal operational) which should be passing
though. The human being is strongly affected by the society and
the self is also formed by it. So, since families are growing
up their children, they have a big responsibility. If the
childs family is leaded by the dogmatic system, there is a
probability of a child being raised in the same way. For a
child, there is a critical period of developing the cognitive
concept. So, the leaders are aware of it and by having
connections with their families, they also affect the children.
Though it will be easier for the leaders to grow up the children
they want to see in the future. Another point is that, our
century experiences anti-democratic system. In other words,
families leading their children acts shape these children and
their actions. However, when they themselves do the same actions
they find some excuses such as telling that they are grownups
and in a way hide their own feelings. After taking all these
facts into consideration, we can see that in every period people
has a tendency to be affected by the leaders. All these
affections are the causes of fear.
From Human Developmental aspect, the approach
made by Bronfenbrenner, there are five interlocking contextual
systems, from the most intimate to the broadest: the microsystem,
mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. According
to Bronfenbrenner (Diane E. Papalia, Sally Wendkos Olds, & Ruth
Duskin Feldman, Human Development, 10th ed.,
page 41-42) ,the first four systems are like hollow cylinders
that fit inside one another, encasing the developing person. The
fifth, the chronosystem, adds the dimension of time. As it is
seen in figure, the borderers between the systems are fluid;
although we separate the various levels of influence for
purposes of illustration, in reality they continually interact.
As in Maslows hierarchy of need, lack of one relation may
cause to huge problems. All these problems cause stress and as a
result of that fear appears.
According to Maslow, the pioneer of
Humanistic Psychology, there is a pyramid
and we are not a crazy-quilt confusion of motives; rather, our
motives are organized in a hierarchy arranged from the most
basic to the most personal and advanced. Lack of one of
hierarchys stages (Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging,
Self-esteem, Self-actualization) may cause stress and a person
may experience fear as a result of this. Without satisfying the
first stage (physiological), the person cannot pass to the next
Each approach is very important for
understanding the reasons of fear and where it comes from,
however, not only phobias mean fear. When we look at the facts
that the fear exists, the questions which occur in our minds
are: Is our culture affected by the fear and if the answer is
yes, in what ways does it occur? and Is where a concept of
the fear culture? To find the answers to these questions, it
is better to do research/look at particular areas of a country.
For example, in our country, there are seven regions and each of
them has their own culture. In Turkey, there are plenty of
reasons of experiencing the fear; however, the main reason is
based on the cultural aspects. Even though Turkey is seemed to
have one culture, the culture of the East and West shows huge
differences. Lets look at the main two approaches such as the
way children are raisen and brought up and the gender
differences between men and women. In my opinion, to find the
fear differences between regions, it could be a good idea to use
the pyramid that is adopted from Maslows hierarchy which
impressed me. Every stage of the pyramid should be observed by
the fears caused by the relationships with others. The basic and
the most important stage of the pyramid is the Human Stage
which is interconnected with the other four stages: Nuclear
Family, School, Job and Retirement. Moreover, the connection and
the level of each fear stage are different.
Nevin Merts pyramid of fear
There are some expectations from the people
living in the East part of the country. There is a patriarchy,
which points out that the men are leaders in the families and
everything depends on them. In this culture, the women are only
for fertility, feeding animals, growing up children, cooking,
and nothing else. They do not have even an opportunity to
exercise their right to education. Besides, there is a dogmatic
system in this culture, too. The women cannot ask the reasons of
the things happening around them and they cannot reject any
demand coming from their husbands or fathers. All these facts
are the major causes for the women of growing up with lot sorts
However, the expectations from the people living in the West
part of the country are absolutely different. This region allows
and encourages its women to be well-educated and to have a
career. The rights of men and women are approximately equal. The
woman freely exercises her rights and defends them
independently. Also, womans childhood is passing not in the
same way as it is passing in the Eastern culture of the country.
However, causes of the fear divorces, the fact of the fear
naturally exists in the West, too. As it is seen, even though
the way of living is different in each region, it shows us the
certain truth that the fear exists.
On the other hand, there are some researches
that contain the degree of the fear on behaviour and
conservation. Social psychologists and communicative
experts are closely interested in this issue. According to
Social Psychologists, there are some reasons why people are
having a tendency to be leaded by other people. There are two
statements which cause directorial reflection. One of them is to
be avoided from entrepreneurial spirit. It is a kind of mood
which leads people to be a passive and suppress their emotions.
It causes a major problem that is being withdrawn and loosing
the concept of the self. The second statement is to shape the
attitude on the mass. By using some reinforcement and punishment
methods the directors lead people to their own desires. These
leaders choose the right way for their public. Here a dogmatic
system takes a great place. This system represses peoples
human value and edges away from the self. The main purpose
of these two statements is to hit the peoples abilities to lead
themselves and suppress their conscious for taking account the
power of leading. Instead of choosing literary people, the
leaders prefer to supply their power in the rural regions where
the number of literary people is less than in urban regions.
However, it is not too easy for leaders to satisfy their
dream. They use propaganda to affect the mass. It appears with
unconscious affection. With many repetitions the leaders wash
the mass brains and step by step approach to their aim. After
these repetitions people unconsciously accept the leaders
Furthermore, in terms of Public Relations, there is an
opinion leader who leads the mass according to his/her beliefs.
The public dogmatically accept the given information. It starts
from childhood. The importance of fear could be seen through the
fact that %90 of fear experiences due to wrong learning and
errors in it. For instance, the child can like or fear something
by the suggestions of the other people (opinion leaders) even if
they dont know anything about that topic.
It goes on through the life-span. The concept Lynch Mobs, which
is used in Social Psychology, covers the notion
deindividuation which means that the people having experienced
this stage can feel anonymous and unidentifiable and therefore
feel less concerned with what others think of their behaviour.
In addition, there is a threshold porter, too. Here, the people
gradually accept the given information and the threshold porter
does this in an indirect way. The news coming from mass
communication channels are divided into two parts. The first
type is that case may happen/occur at any time like traffic
accidents, suicide and the second type of coming news is the
cases which do not happen immediately. Before publishing this
news it is passing through threshold porters and they decide
what to publish. From Behaviourist
Psychology aspect, Skinners perspective
(to teach a behaviour to a person or to an organism by applying
gradually rather than wholesale; in other words, teaching a
behaviour step by step), the aim of all these leaders is to
influence people by using the media. The public have strongly
affected by the media and it shows how the media is effective in
peoples behavioural changes. Moreover, the approach of Scott
Peck who mentioned opinions about public relations claimed that
the basis of fear is a result of laziness.
According to him, due to a nature of humanity, the fear is a
common form of the laziness. Most of our fears are happening due
to the thought of loosing something that belongs to us/our
statue. In this case, risk is the effect of loosing our
statue, but the fear is being frightened of reaching a new
statue and expending effort for it. As it could be understood
from these expressions, fear is a feeling about the future.
Think of something undesirable that will occur may cause to
hearts grief. Human experiences fear due to frightening not to
obtain something desirable.
In other words, fear is the natural reaction of living beings
that are face to face with danger that could be visible or
invisible. Psychologists evaluate this mental condition as a
useful mechanism to provide vibrant and self-defense
and also fear is characterized as both inevitable and basic
There are some opinions about the experiencing of fear in our
country. One of them is Doğan CÜCELOĞLU, the writer of book
Fear Culture. He states that If in a society the fear culture
exists and also its dominant, there is neither respect to the
truth nor the life of the human is precious. Moreover, this
society is also going to be lack of scientific view which means
that the dogmatic system leads to the society. And, the lives of
people will be passing meaninglessly and with dogmatism. In
addition, each person and society could impress their positive
thoughts and should not forget the purpose of living. It shows
that he accepts the existence of fear in the country and by
publishing that book he impresses his emotions to the public.
However, the most interesting aspect existed in Turkey was the
usage of the sentence that recalled Platos words (The cowardly
people could never elect the monument of victory), said:
Country cannot be built on fear! Future is not build on fear!
Democracy cannot be built on fear!It
shows that people who recalled that are also aware of the fear
in their country. Moreover, there are still some traces of fear
culture as we are
face to face in national newspapers that is Cumhuriyet,
and as an example of being awareness of it, it was published the
archives titled Korku İmparatorluğu(The Empire of Fear). As it
is seen, not only the opinion leaders but also the public is
aware in experiencing fear in our society/culture. However, the
most interesting question comes to minds, if we are aware in
existence fear, why we let it to continue and affect us as a
In example if we take a glace at Turkish
National Athem (12 March, 1921), we find that it starts with the
word Korkma! which means Dont be afraid! or No fear!
According to the psychological approaches mentioned above, it
symbolizes the economical, social and cultural perspectives of
the country. The existence of the word Korkma! in the Turkish
National Athem means that there is a fear and the message trying
to be given by the National Athem is not to be afraid of
anything around us. Observing this fact through the
psychological approach of big five basic traits (Ashton, Lee, &
Goldberg, 2004; McCrae & Costa, 1987, 1999; McCrae & Terracciano,
2005), we can say that by using Five-Factor Model of
Personality that, this problem could be solved. This model of
personality points out that openness, extraversion,
conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism are the
important five-factors that could be affective in the
personality of a person and as a result of the effectiveness, in
the way of thinking and living could be seen some positive
changes. Getting rid of especially neuroticism which includes
worrying, nervous, high-strung, insecure and self-conscious will
help people to cure their fears.
Taking all these facts into consideration, by describing the
fear and approaching through psychological and
socio-psychological perspectives, we tried to understand the
causes and results of the fear in our country. In every moment
(from birth to death) we consciously or unconsciously experience
fear and it affects our life-span. By observing some
perspectives, we come to a head that
the East part of our country is still ruled by the despotic
method, because there isnt any authority figure, thus, it has
to be. Moreover, although in the East, the death is
sanctified, in the West,
the life is sanctified. When we look at the East, we can see
that there is a fatalistic mentality. If it is needed to show
the situation regrettably, a person can get frightened because
of its nature and also can beat that fear by his/her joy of life
and pride. In eastern side, while the fear of one is getting
stronger (fear is dominating the honor), this fear can dominate
the honor of the nation. In personal life, it is natural that
fear can surpass other things, but if fear is dominate over
honor in the East, this fear can be also felt in the Turkish
National Athem. Even though we sometimes can get rid of this
fear as a society, fear can surpass again.
In other words, in the Turkish National Athem,
there are traces of fear and this athem was accepted in 1921.
Furthermore, there are still traces in our century. In daily
news we can experience it, too. From past till nowadays it has
existed and in the future it will also exist. As a result of our
observations, we can say that our country has a fear culture.
So, it proves the existence of the concept of the fear culture
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Types of phobias;
Agoraphobia fear of places or events where
escape is impossible or when help is unavailable.
Agraphobia fear of sexual abuse.
Aichmophobia fear of sharp or pointed objects.
Algophobia fear of pain.
Agyrophobia fear of crossing roads.
Androphobia fear of men.
Anthropophobia fear of people or being in a
company, a form of
Anthophobia fear of flowers.
Hydrophobia fear of water.
Astraphobia, Astrapophobia, Brontophobia,
Keraunophobia fear of
lightning and storms.
Aviophobia, Aviatophobia fear of flying.
Bacillophobia, Bacteriophobia, Microbiophobia
Catoptrophobia - fear of mirrors or of one's own
Chorophobia - fear of dancing.
Sitophobia aversion to
Claustrophobia fear of confined spaces.
Coulrophobia fear of
Decidophobia fear of making decisions.
Dental phobia, Dentophobia, Odontophobia fear
dentists and dental procedures
Dysmorphophobia a phobic obsession with a real
or imaginary body defect.
Emetophobia fear of vomiting.
Ergasiophobia, Ergophobia fear of work or
functioning, or a
surgeon's fear of operating.
Ergophobia fear of work or functioning.
Erotophobia fear of sexual love or sexual
Erythrophobia pathological blushing.
Gelotophobia - fear of being laughed at.
Gephyrophobia fear of
Genophobia, Coitophobia fear of sexual
Gerascophobia fear of growing old or ageing.
Gerontophobia fear of growing old, or a hatred
or fear of the elderly.
Glossophobia fear of speaking in public or of
trying to speak.
Gymnophobia fear of
Gynophobia fear of women.
Haptephobia fear of being touched.
Heliophobia fear of sunlight.
Hemophobia, Haemophobia fear of
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia fear of the
Hoplophobia fear of
Ligyrophobia fear of loud noises.
Lipophobia fear/avoidance of fats in food.
Megalophobia - fear of large/oversized objects.
Mysophobia fear of germs, contamination or
Necrophobia fear of death, the dead.
Neophobia, Cainophobia, Cainotophobia, Cenophobia,
Centophobia, Kainolophobia, Kainophobia fear of newness,
Nomophobia fear of being out of mobile phone
Nosophobia fear of contracting a disease.
Nyctophobia, Achluophobia, Lygophobia,
Scotophobia fear of darkness.
Osmophobia, Olfactophobia fear of smells.
Friggatriskaidekaphobia fear of
Friday the 13th.
Panphobia fear of everything or constantly
afraid without knowing what is causing it.
Phasmophobia - fear of ghosts, spectres or
Phagophobia fear of swallowing.
Phobophobia fear of having a phobia.
Phonophobia fear of loud sounds.
Pyrophobia fear of fire.
Radiophobia fear of
Sociophobia fear of people or social situations
Scopophobia fear of being looked at or stared
Somniphobia fear of sleep.
Spectrophobia fear of mirrors and one's own
Taphophobia fear of the
grave, or fear of being placed in a grave while
Technophobia fear of
Telephone phobia - fear or reluctance of making
Tetraphobia fear of the number
Tokophobia fear of childbirth.
Tomophobia fear or anxiety of
Traumatophobia a synonym for
injury phobia, a fear of having an injury
Triskaidekaphobia, Terdekaphobia fear of the
Trypanophobia, Belonephobia, Enetophobia fear
of needles or injections.
Vaccinophobia - fear of vaccines.
Workplace phobia fear of the work place.
Xenophobia fear of strangers, foreigners, or
Prejudices and discrimination
Jocular and fictional phobias
- Aibohphobia a
joke term for the fear of
palindromes, which is a palindrome itself.
Anachrophobia fear of temporal displacement.
portmanteau of "anorak"
butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia fear of long words.
- Nihilophobia - fear
fear of beautiful women.