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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default The psychology of who we find creepy and why

    The psychology of who we find creepy and why
    Tuesday, 5 April 2016
    Post written by Christian Jarrett
    The British Psychological Society

    Excerpt:
    Maybe they're sitting too close, or just smiling weirdly. Whatever, you know it's creeping you out! Finding certain people creepy is a common experience yet psychologists, before now, haven't investigated this emotion.

    Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke, the authors of a new exploratory paper in New Ideas in Psychology, say that creepiness is what we feel when we think someone might be a threat, but we're not sure – the ambiguity leaves us "frozen in place, wallowing in unease".

    The pair conducted an online survey of 1341 people (312 were men; average age 29, mostly based in the US), including asking them to rate the likelihood of a creepy person exhibiting 44 different patterns of behaviour (e.g. avoiding eye contact), and to rate the creepiness of different occupations and hobbies.

    Several behaviours and aspects of appearance were consistently rated as characteristic of creepy people, including: 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. Men and women alike overwhelmingly said it was more likely that a typical creepy person would be male.

    "While they may not be overtly threatening, individuals who display unusual patterns of nonverbal behaviour, odd emotional characteristics or highly distinctive physical characteristics are outside of the norm, and by definition unpredictable. This may activate our 'creepiness detector'," the researchers said.

    < full blog post >


    Quote Originally Posted by McAndrew and Koehnke
    A mugger who points a gun in your face and demands money is certainly threatening and terrifying. Yet, most people would probably not use the word “creepy” to describe this situation. It is our belief that creepiness is anxiety aroused by the ambiguity of whether there is something to fear or not and/or by the ambiguity of the precise nature of the threat (e.g., sexual, physical violence, contamination, etc) that might be present. Such uncertainty results in a paralysis as to how one should respond. In the mugging situation, there is no ambiguity about the presence or nature of threat.

    It would be considered rude and embarrassing to run away from an odd person who has done nothing overtly threatening, but, on the other hand, it could be perilous to ignore your intuition and remain in an interaction that is dangerous. This ambivalence leaves you frozen in place, wallowing in unease.



    (Image: McAndrew and Koehnke)


    (Image: McAndrew and Koehnke)

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  2. #2
    Senior Jr. SD45T-2's Avatar
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    "See if you can stand to talk to me for more than 4 seconds!"

    1w2-6w5-3w2 so/sp

    "I took one those personality tests. It came back negative." - Dan Mintz
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    Senior(ita) Member Cloudpatrol's Avatar
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    @Vasilisa

    One of my fave posts ever. So fascinating! Fun to ruminate on where "taking an active interest" crosses the line into "creepy" territory. I am archiving this as I have always wanted to write a creepy character and think this will be helpful
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    I've always regarded creepy people as "people who don't respect or see unspoken but understood boundaries". This is much better though, AND it's backed by data!

  5. #5
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    You're telling me my greasy unkempt hair, friend touching, tall being, odd smiling, under/over dressedness, thin, standing too closeness is considered creepy?

    I better stop working on the muscular as well...
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

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    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
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    Senior Member ThaumaturgicTheorist's Avatar
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    I'm more concerned that being unemployed is considered creepy.
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    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    How did US Senator/Presidential candidate not make this list?
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.
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    ha-ha-hoo Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Damn it! I was going to go to clown college for graduate school. Now, I'll have to flush that plan down the toilet.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcan View Post
    Damn it! I was going to go to clown college for graduate school. Now, I'll have to flush that plan down the toilet.
    Maybe "plumber" is still up there too.

    Pennywise always hung out in the sewer.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    ha-ha-hoo Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellflower View Post
    Maybe "plumber" is still up there too.

    Pennywise always hung out in the sewer.
    I think plumbers are too into eating psychedelic mushrooms, which suggests a certain affability.
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