What Makes Creepy People Seem Creepy?

Information you never knew you needed to know.
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Information you never knew you needed to know.

Everybody knows a creep. Maybe your neighbor is creepy. Maybe your friend is creepy and smells like moth balls, yet you still hang out with him. Who knows, maybe you’re pretty damn creepy. Either way, there’s just something about certain people that weirds everyone out, but what exactly is it?

In an informative and completely necessary new study called “On the Nature of Creepiness” published in the journal New Ideas in Psychologyresearchers Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke surveyed 1,341 people on which behaviors, occupations, and hobbies are considered creepy to find out the common things everyone finds weird. To make things easier for us non-scientists understand, Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest broke the results down and spoon-fed it to us.

According to the research, which was then simplified by Jarrett, characteristics of creepy people include: “Standing too close; greasy hair; peculiar smile; bulging eyes; having a mental illness; long fingers; unkempt hair; pale skin; bags under eyes; odd/dirty clothes; licking lips frequently; laughing at odd times; steering conversation toward one topic (especially sex); making it impossible to leave without seeming rude; displaying unwanted sexual interest; asking to take a picture of you; being very thin; and displaying too much/little emotion.”

Participants reported that creepy people make them feel especially uncomfortable because they can’t tell how the person is going to act or what they’re going to do, meaning that creepiness comes from ambiguity. When you think about it, it makes sense, because you’re never sure if the creepy person is just super weird yet harmless, or if they’re actually fantasizing about scooping out your eyeballs.

And, surprising no one, the four professions perceived as creepiest are, in order: clown, taxidermist, sex shop owner, and funeral director. 

On a final note, the study found that creepy people don’t even know that they’re creepy, so check yourself.

h/t Science of Us