scary clown in the street

This map reveals the biggest fears of each US state

As Halloween approaches and people begin swapping their normal clothing for something a little more spine-chilling, many of us find ourselves being reminded of our worst fears. You can hardly scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing some kind of reference to the movie "IT' and clown costumes, or walk into a store without being greeted by spiderwebs and skulls. And, for those of us who don't particularly like red-nosed men in face-paint or eight-legged creepy crawlies, it's not the easiest holiday season to deal with.

However, while all of us have at least one fear (don't try to deny it), not all of them are the same. Some people hate flying, others are freaked out by supernatural phenomena, and many find themselves gripped by that old classic: a fear of the dark.

But, of all the gross and gruesome things we could be terrified of, which one is the most common? Well, in the spirit of the spookiest time of year, here's some of the most-googled fears in the USA - along with a map of the biggest one for each state.

1. Triskaidekaphobia

This impossible-to-pronounce term refers to the fear of the number 13. As irrational as it may seem, this fear is actually incredibly common - so common, in fact, that "why am I afraid of 13" is the most searched for out of all the terrors on this list. You might have noticed that many airplanes and hotels do not have an aisle/floor 13, and that's because the number is so often avoided by superstitious people.

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2. Xenophobia

Though this word is frequently used to describe a dislike of foreign or unfamiliar people, the term actually refers to "a fear of the unknown". Many people might say their fear of the dark or the ocean is actually xenophobia, as they're scared of not knowing what's out there.

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3. Coulrophobia

As Stephen King knew all too well when he wrote IT, the fear of clowns is one shared by hundreds of thousands of people. It seems strange that so many people would be terrified of something that originated as an entertainment figure, but there's just something about that insincere smile and garish get-up that really gives people the willies.

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4. Trypophobia

People who are afflicted with this fear have a terrible phobia of holes; more specifically, small clusters of holes - like the kinds found in a pumice stone or honeycomb. Some scientists have theorised that this fear is a hereditary hand-me-down from our ancestors of long ago, who would have been more exposed to diseases that produced hole-like blemishes on the skin.

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5. Thalassophobia

This term refers to a fear of the ocean and/or large bodies of water. This one is possibly the most rational of the top five, because there are things in the ocean that could legitimately tear you to shreds. Also, as a great deal of our oceans still remain unexplored, it's possible that there are terrifying creatures lurking down there that we have no idea about.

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Now we know the most common cause of the creeps are for Americans as a whole, here's what the USA's most-googled fears are by state. Many of these are recognisable from the top five - but what others do we have in the mix?

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A few states share the fear of acrophobia - a fear of heights - while others have the more specific aerophobia: a fear of flying. Maine and Michigan are most phobic of vomiting; Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland and Virginia are scared of the dark; and South Dakota is petrified of needles.

Unsurprisingly, a couple of coastal states (New Hampshire and New Jersey) have a fear of sharks, whereas Hawaii - who have much higher numbers of sharks - is more scared of cats. I know which animal I'd rather be trapped in a cage with for half an hour, but ok, Hawaii, whatever you say.

Not all fears are based on things that could physically hurt a person, though.

North Carolina and Kentucky are freaked out by commitment (maybe avoid dating them), Pennsylvania is scared of work (perhaps think twice about employing people from there), and West Virginia have huge issues with public speaking (probably not the best idea to make them your best man).

Perhaps the most surprising piece of information from all this data is that only one state fears death above all else, and that's Indiana. Really, is there anything more terrifying than that? Well, if you're in Ohio there is - and it's food.

It just goes to show that everyone is different, and all of our fears are subjective. And that Ohio is weird.