84% of People Hold Onto an Irrational Fear

1 in 10 fear using the photocopier, 1 in 12 believes it's "out to get them"

Jun 27, 2013, 09:00 ET from EMC Corporation

SEATTLE, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Irrational fears, ranging from using the coffee machine, to wearing the wrong clothes, to an office crush finding out, are keeping people awake and preventing them from being successful, according to new *research commissioned by Mozy® by EMC, the world's most trusted provider of cloud backup and access solutions.  

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130627/NE39544 )

The workplace is a hotbed for fears that survey respondents themselves identified as irrational. Nearly one in four (25%) admitted they worry unnecessarily about sending a sensitive email to the wrong person, while 23% fret about getting fired even though they have no reason to worry. One in five respondents stress over being "found out" for being no good at their jobs (19%), and 21% are concerned that they will inexplicably turn up an inappropriate website during an innocent Internet search at work.

Irrational fears at work are preventing many from doing their jobs – with 68% admitting they had not done something because they thought it would be harder than it actually was. For instance, even though photocopiers have been a standard technology at work for decades, 11% of people still fear using them. Unfounded fears of using new workplace technologies such as the cloud mean that people miss out on using tools that could give them, and their businesses, the edge.

"A little healthy skepticism about activities that could be hazardous and a desire to not make errors is good sense, but when that becomes an inhibiting fear or a dogged refusal to embrace new things in spite of good evidence for adopting change, then it becomes an issue," said Gytis Barzdukas, Senior Director of Product Management at Mozy.

The fear of being replaced by technology, however, was not as prevalent as some might think with nearly two thirds (63%) of people unconcerned that technological advancements might take away their jobs.

Innovation and fear

Almost half of people surveyed (44%) believe that the computer has had the greatest impact on our lives along with other recent technology inventions including the Internet (36%) and the mobile phone (25%). The computer represents more than double the amount of people who believe that lifesaving antibiotics (20%) have had the greatest impact on our lives. Even the wheel, often heralded as the greatest invention of all time, couldn't compare to technology with only 14% believing that it had the greatest impact on our lives.

Forty-one percent of people think that in the not-too-distant future we'll no longer be nervous about the security risks of using credit cards to make online purchases.

"Irrational fears have driven our actions throughout history and could have seriously hindered the modern world if they hadn't been overcome," said Barzdukas. "For example, many people considered medicine as being witchcraft, or were terrified of sailing off the edge of the world, or believed that sending people into orbit could lead to 'space madness.'

"Fortunately, those myths were debunked. We believe that in the future the same will be said about a lot of modern technologies that some people still eye with suspicion today," said Barzdukas.

Despite cloud-based services like voicemail for mobile phones and web-based email being prominent in the lives of most Americans (and the fact that the survey was completed using a cloud application), 46% of people still claim that they don't use cloud services in their personal lives. This highlights that many consumers are confused about what "the cloud" really is, contributing to a "fear of the unknown." 

Fortunately, a third of respondents also think that it won't be long before we laugh at the idea that people used to be afraid of storing files in the cloud.

Interestingly, people gave equal weight to the security measures that need to be in place to protect their data, such as photos, documents and videos, whether in a cloud environment or in the home. Encryption tops both lists with 55% stating that it is needed to protect data in the home and 44% saying a code that only they know is needed at a cloud vendor site. More people (38%) consider an alarm a necessity at home as opposed to a cloud provider's datacenter (31%). Surprisingly, 13% stated they would only feel data was safe in the home if it was secured with a retinal scanner; only slightly more (17%) thought it was an essential level of security in a cloud environment.

Irrational fears in the workplace impact the economy

Fear of trying new things at work is institutionalized – almost one in five (17%) stated that their organization doesn't encourage innovation and, possibly as a result, more than one in three (35%) haven't submitted any ideas at work. Only 15% of respondents have had an idea successfully adopted at work; 24% of ideas submitted are delayed for so long by fears in the IT department that they never deliver any benefits. 

A full 58% of respondents perceive the fear within organizations comes from management.

"Technology and the Internet are hugely valuable resources, as identified by the research, but many are afraid to use it as much as they could to make an impact at work," said Barzdukas. "Often, it appears that managers in the workplace are constraining people, causing companies and individuals to be held back from reaching their goals through fear and confusion."

"To maximize our opportunities, people need to challenge outdated and unfounded concerns about technologies for storage and collaboration and take advantage of new possibilities in the cloud," Barzdukas stated.

Additional key findings

More information can be found at www.mozy.com/blog/news/fears, including:

  • It only takes a 24% reduction in price for consumers to overcome their fears and use an online service that frightens them
  • Only six percent of consumers think they take the most risks when adopting innovations for the home – but 62% say they lead the innovation in their homes, showing that innovation is owned by people who are risk averse
  • Respondents stated that children and the Internet drive more innovation in the home than parents
  • Cancer, family illness and Alzheimer's are the three things consumers fear most.


Research was commissioned by Mozy and conducted by Vanson Bourne in May 2013. The survey questioned 550 IT decision makers and 1,250 office workers across the US, UK, Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Respondents work within organizations with 50 – 1,000 employees.

Country splits
US – 150 IT decision makers, 300 office workers
UK – 100 IT decision makers, 250 office workers
Ireland – 50 IT decision makers, 100 office workers
France – 100 IT decision makers, 250 office workers
Germany – 100 IT decision makers, 250 office workers
The Netherlands – 50 IT decision makers, 100 office workers

About Mozy

Mozy by EMC is the world's most trusted provider of cloud backup and access, with more than 6 million customers, including more than 100,000 businesses, backing up 90 petabytes of information to its multiple data centers around the globe. Wholly owned by EMC Corporation since 2007, Mozy is an essential component in the EMC backup and recovery solutions portfolio. More information can be found at mozy.com.

Mozy is a registered trademark of Mozy, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. 

SOURCE EMC Corporation