Against the norm: These characteristics seem scary to people

Against the norm: These characteristics seem scary to people

New study: what makes people look scary to others?
The convicted murderer, who was released at yesterday's crime scene, looked really scary. The way he dealt with other people, especially the chief inspector, caused goose bumps. But why do some people seem "creepy"? Researchers have now found answers to this in a new study.

When people seem “creepy” to others
In Frankfurt's "crime scene", which was broadcast on Sunday, murder was a minor matter. The condemned murderer was much more sinister, and - again at large - sought contact with the chief inspector in various ways. In "The Story of Evil Friederich" the policewoman reaches her limits because of the creepy and unpredictable ex-prisoner. Alexander Nolte (that's the murderer's film name) has a lot in common with US presidential applicants, undertakers, sex shop owners and clowns: They all seem "creepy" to their fellow human beings, somehow scary. The “Welt” reports online about a study that investigated what triggers this uncomfortable feeling.

Fearsome feeling from others
Even if it is often not justifiable, the mere presence of some people is enough to suddenly feel uncomfortable. The tone can play a role, the strange grin or the eyes. In a study, the American scientists Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke looked at where the disturbing feeling actually comes from. The results of her work entitled "On the nature of creepiness" (in German "The cause of creepiness") are published in the specialist magazine "New Ideas in Psychology". The researchers working at Knox College in Illinois have at times gained astonishing insights into why some people - for no reason - seem strange, downright disturbing or uncanny to others.

Professions that seem scary
The study observed 1,341 people with an average age of 29 years. According to “Welt”, there were a total of 44 characteristics that had to be assessed by the study participants. It was about behavior, everyday habits, quirks, hobbies, professions, gestures or the surface appearance. According to the information, it emerged that there are some professions that immediately seem scary. These include undertakers, sex shop owners, taxidermists and clowns. There is even a pathological fear of clowns, the so-called "coulrophobia". The University of Sheffield in the UK has shown in an older study that more and more people are suffering from coulrophobia today. Nevertheless, clinic clowns help to make patients healthy again and they are often the doctor for the soul even in old people's homes. And in the circus they make many laugh.

Weird characters among the US presidential candidates
In the current study, according to the "Welt", there were also some strange characters among the republican US presidential candidates. Some subjects Marco Creio was scary because he constantly seems to have a dry mouth and has funny facial expressions. Donald Trump showed that his continually sexual innuendos regarding his big hands and long fingers are perceived as not very cautious. According to the scientists, his repeated discussion of certain issues with a sexual context is increasingly irritating to others.

Deviations from the norm
Ted Cruz was attested to his constant lip licking as a "creepy" property. In the journal Psychology Today, Richard E. Cytowic, professor of neurology at George Washington University, recently wondered why Cruz's facial expression would irritate him permanently. The presidential applicant therefore deviates from the norm because the corners of his mouth when smiling don't go up, but down. He and other people who are perceived as "scary fellows" usually cannot do anything to disturb others.

Men in particular are perceived as scary
In a post on the “Slate” portal, study participants were cited who spoke about the most common optical features that cause an uncomfortable feeling in the person opposite. These are greasy hair, dirty clothes, strange smiles, circles under the eyes, pale skin or googly eyes. However, it was striking that it was predominantly men who were felt to be scary and troubling. One explanation could be that 75 percent of the study participants were women and the result could be falsified. According to “Welt”, the greatest finding of the study is that we find other people particularly scary when we cannot predict their behavior or cannot correctly interpret their facial expressions and gestures. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: The Problem with Over-Friendly People