Chinese Language Blog

Top Fears of Chinese People Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

With Halloween fast approaching, what better time to talk about fears? Whether we like to admit or not, everyone has fears. Some are freaked out by spiders, others are spooked of heights, and many of us are downright terrified of speaking in public. So, what exactly are Chinese people afraid of? While it’s hard to make a blanket generalization about the fears of a country with 1.4 billion people and counting, Chinese search engine Baidu tried to do just that a few years back. By reviewing 20 million searches related to fear, they generated a list called “What are Chinese people afraid of?” (中国人怕什么? – zhōng guó rén pà shén me). Let’s take a closer look at the results to see what the world’s most populous country is scared of:

Top 10 Fears (前十大恐惧 – qián shí dà kǒng jù)

Some of the top fears.

Some of the top fears.

First of all, a list was compiled of the Top 10 Fears for both men and women? Care to guess what they were for each? I’ll give you a clue – the top fear for men didn’t even crack the list for women, and vice versa. Obviously men and women have very different fears in China. So, which fears topped the lists of men and women, respectively?

Men fear not having money, women fear getting old.
男怕没钱,女怕老 (nán pà méi qián, nǚ pà lǎo)

Around 2.9 million questions show that men fear a lack of financial stability, while over 2.7 million from women show their fears of aging. This should come as little surprise, considering that the modern-day definition of success in China for a man involves getting rich, while for a woman it means looking young and beautiful. Perhaps that old Chinese saying that, “At 40 a man is a flower, and at 40 a woman is tofu” (男人四十一枝花,女人四十豆腐 – nán rén sì shí yī zhī huā, nǚ rén sì shí dòu fu) also has something to do with the ladies’ fear of getting old. Interestingly enough, the #2 fear on both sides was impotence. Also, men are afraid of their partner finding out about an extramarital affair, while women are afraid of said affair happening in the first place.

Fears of Male-Female Relationships
(害怕男女关系 – hài pà nán nǚ guān xì)/
Fears of Marriage (婚姻恐惧 – hūn yīn kǒng jù)

Big differences when it comes to love.

Big differences when it comes to love.

About 700,000 questions were asked about “how to find a girlfriend,” while that number was around 620,000 for “how to find a boyfriend,” showing that men are more afraid of being single than women. There was a big gap when it came to anxieties about tying the knot – only 30% of men fear marriage compared with 70% of women. From these results, we could say:

Men are afraid of being single, women are afraid of marriage.
男人怕单身,女人怕结婚 (nán rén pà dān shēn, nǚ rén pà jié hūn)

Fears About the Body
(害怕身材变形 – hài pà shēn cái biàn xíng)

Dudes fear beer bellies, ladies fear wrinkles.

Dudes fear beer bellies, ladies fear wrinkles.

When it comes to men, their biggest fear regarding their body is that their “little brother” stops functioning properly (42%), while for women wrinkles top the list (68%). Men also fear going bald and getting a beer belly, while women are scared of sagging breasts and gaining weight.

Fears of Career (职业恐慌 – zhí yè kǒng huāng)

Career fears of guys.

Career fears of guys.

As far as work related fears go, men are most afraid of making unwise choices at work (37%), while women fear getting pregnant the most (38%). Men also fear not making progress, losing their job, and drinking alcohol, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever been a part of a Chinese banquet. A close second place for women is getting hit on by a superior at work, although other than those two it seems as if women have far less fears related to work.


For a more personal look at fears some Chinese people have, check out this YouTube video with real live people rather than search engine stats:


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Bymyself Learning:

    Super…You teach me a few new words and make me discover China…Thank you !

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