It’s pretty much a given that if you thought a guy was creepy, you wouldn’t be dating him. But, love can be blind and all, so it’s possible you could be seeing a creep and not even know it. Enter, science.
A new study published in New Ideas in Psychology sought to figure out what, specifically, makes a person creepy because…why the hell not?
For the study, which is appropriately dubbed “On the Nature of Creepiness,” researchers had an international sample of 1,341 people respond to an online survey on what they considered creepy. Participants answered several questions, which scientists then analyzed to get to the bottom of creepiness.
Here’s what they discovered:
- Men are more likely to be labeled as “creepy” than women.
- Women are more likely to think sexual threats are creepy (duh).
- Acting unusually was associated with creepiness.
- Some hobbies and jobs make people creepy.
Let’s discuss those jobs, shall we? If you’re a clown, taxidermist, sex shop owner, or funeral director, sorry—people think you’re creepy. (Worth noting: People think clowns are the creepiest of them all.)
There are also some behaviors and nonverbal cues that make someone come across as a creeper:
- Being extremely thin
- Not looking you in the eye
- Asking to take a picture of you
- Watching people before interacting with them
- Asking about details of your personal life when you don’t know them
- Displaying too much or too little emotion
- Being older
- Steering the conversation toward sex
But WAIT: The last question people had to answer in the survey was the best: “Do most creepy people know that they are creepy?” Nearly 60 percent said “no.”
Apparently there’s a reason why we get creeped out by some people more than others: Researchers say it’s an evolved adaptive emotional response to uncertainty about the presence of threat that allows us to be more alert when something or someone seems a bit off.
So, if you end up on a date with a taxidermist who moonlights as a clown and won’t look you in the eye—you've been warned.