What’s creepy? Clowns, sex-shop owners and taxi drivers top world's creepiest professions

01 November 2016 - 17:01
By Bruce Gorton

If you're a collector who also happens to be a professional clown with a tendency to stare at your friends, you may just be one of the creepiest people around.

A new study, published in the journal New Ideas in Psychology, has delved into what people consider creepy, from jobs to traits to hobbies.

Clowns beat taxidermy for the creepiest profession, while watching your friend before interacting was the creepiest trait.

“While they may not be overtly threatening, individuals who display unusual patterns of nonverbal behaviour, odd emotional responses, or highly distinctive physical characteristics are outside of the norm, and by definition unpredictable,” the researchers said.

The creepiest hobby was collecting things especially dolls, insects, reptiles and body parts.

“People who have hobbies that involve collecting things that we are predisposed as a species to fear such as spiders and snakes or things that can only be acquired after something has died (e.g., skulls or bodies to be stuffed) seem creepy to us as well,” the researchers said.

This was considered creepier than watching, following or taking pictures of children, though the researchers said, “We are also wary of individuals who have a preoccupation with monitoring the activity of others.”

The 5 creepiest hobbies were:

1: Collecting things. Collecting dolls, insects, reptiles, or body parts such as teeth, bones, or fingernails was considered especially creepy

2: Watching, following, or taking pictures of people (especially children)

3: Bird watching

4: Pornography or exotic sexual activity and

5: Taxidermy

The 10 creepiest traits were:

1: Watched friend before interacting

2: Touched friend frequently

3: Steered conversation toward sex

4: Asked to take picture of friend

5: Asked for personal details of friend's family

6: Opposite sex of friend

7: Greasy Hair

8: Appearance/NVB (Composite)

9: Never looked friend in the eye

10: Significantly older than friend


Statista has produced a table showing the ten creepiest professions:

Infographic: The Creepiest Occupations Worldwide | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

According to the researchers, the biggest driver of creepiness is the ‘ambiguity of threat’.

“The link made by females between sexual threat and creepiness is also consistent with the fact that females are simply at greater risk of sexual assault and have potentially greater costs associated with it than males,” according to the research.

The researchers do not see their study as conclusive, for example a lot of what is creepy may vary between cultures, and thus they feel more research is needed but they believe it works as a decent first step in figuring out what makes our skins crawl.