7 Traits & Behaviors That Make Even The Most Appealing People Seem Creepy

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dark figure walking away

When someone or something is creepy, the unease begins as the feeling of being uncomfortable, and when the sensation of creepiness intensifies, you may get goosebumps or that crawling feeling under your skin.

When you're creeped out, you may internally or outwardly shudder because something isn't right; in fact, it's vaguely threatening, even if the person or situation isn't overtly dangerous. You're not sure why you're getting the heebie-jeebies, but your anxiety levels are rising, and you feel nervous.

One study titled "On the nature of creepiness," from Knox College in Illinois, which was published in the journal New Ideas in Psychology, discovered some traits that are overwhelmingly associated as creepy, and that our creepiness detector may actually be a defense against some sort of threat.

Authors of the study, Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke, interviewed 1,342 people (1,029 females and 312 males) of all ages using an online survey to determine what makes someone creepy.

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McAndrew, Ph.D. told Psychology Today, "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) that might be present. Thus, it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about [the] threat that we get creeped out, and such uncertainty results in paralysis as to how to respond."

In the first part of the survey, participants were asked to imagine that a close friend said they had just met a creepy person.

The participants were then asked to rate the likelihood that the creepy person would show 44 different patterns of behavior (such as avoiding eye contact) and physical characteristics (greasy hair) on a scale of one (very unlikely) to five (very likely).

In the second half of the study, the participants were asked to rate the creepiness of 21 different occupations on a scale of one (not so creepy) to five (extremely creepy). The participants were asked to list two hobbies they thought were creepy.

Finally, the participants were asked to indicate how much they agreed with 15 statements about creepy people, such as, "I think that the person has a sexual interest in me."

After the conclusion of the survey, researchers determined the key traits of creepy people and what makes them so off-putting to others.

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Here are 7 characteristics of creepy people.

1. They are men.

The survey determined that creepy people are much more likely to be males than females.

2. They give off vibes of being a sexual threat.

Females are more likely to perceive a sexual threat from creepy people.

3. They have a strange job.

Various forms of employment differ in level of perceived creepiness. But clowns, taxidermists, sex shop owners and funeral directors were at the top of the list.

4. They are unpredictable.

Unpredictability is an important component of perceived creepiness, and could be considered the cause of being uncomfortable in certain social interactions.

5. They have a variety of non-normative physical characteristics.

A creepy person might tend to have oily or messy hair, bulging eyes, very pale skin, and dirty clothes.

6. They don't know they are creepy.

Survey participants didn't think that most creepy people actually know they're creepy, and that most creepy people probably don't have creepy intentions. However, the participants did believe that creepy people can't change.

7. They have strange hobbies.

The top two creepiest hobbies were collecting things, such as dolls, insects or body parts (like teeth, bones, or fingernails), and hobbies that include watching (e.g., taking pictures of people, watching porn and even bird-watching).

"I think it makes good sense that men would be perceived as creepy more frequently. If getting 'creeped out' is about being on high alert to determine if there is something to be afraid of or not, men out to set off the alarm more than women would," McAndrew said in an interview.

"Men are more potentially dangerous to men and women alike; it could also explain why women (more than men) are likely to perceive some sort of sexual threat from a creepy individual."

If you don't want to be thought of as creepy, it probably isn't ideal to go into careers like taxidermy or clown school. Be sure to practice good hygiene, and wash your hair on a more frequent basis.

You don't want to make anyone's skin crawl, after all.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Hello Giggles, Yahoo, and Woman's Day.