Clowns, definitely creepy. Bird-watching, mildly creepy, we suppose. Men, also apparently deemed creepier than women.
Psychology professor Frank McAndrew and fellow researchers at Knox College in Illinois have issued the first-ever formal study on what creeps people out: On the Nature of Creepiness. Among their results: jobs like clowns, funeral directors, taxidermists and sex-shop workers; hobbies like collecting dolls or insects; and activities that involved watching, like photography or bird-watching. These are all arguably creepy. But, moreover, the study found that 95 percent of people expect creeps to be men more more often than women. Why? To quote the study: “Everything that we found in this study is consistent with the notion that the perception of creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat. Males are more physically threatening to people of both sexes than are females, and they were more likely to be perceived as creepy by males and females alike.”
That said, creeps don’t know they’re creepy, according to the study’s participants. Our advice? To paraphrase the poker proverb: If you look around the table and can’t see the creep, you’re it.