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Given how frequently the concept of “creepiness” is invoked in everyday life to describe the relationships and encounters that we have with others, it is surprising that it has not been studied in a formal way. This study attempted to uncover the cues that are used to label someone as “Creepy” and to identify the basic elements of creepiness. An international sample of 1,341 individuals (1029 females, 312 males; ages 18-77, M(SD) = 28.97 (11.34)) responded to an online survey about creepiness. The results revealed that males are perceived as creepier than females and that females are more likely to associate sexual threat with creepiness. Nonverbal behaviors and characteristics associated with unpredictability are also predictors of creepiness, as are some occupations and hobbies. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that being “creeped out” is an evolved adaptive emotional response to ambiguity about the presence of threat that enables us to maintain vigilance during times of uncertainty.
On Creepiness
(On the Nature of)
*Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke
Knox College
Basis of a poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology, New Orleans, January, 2013.
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Francis T. McAndrew,
Department of Psychology, Knox College, 2 East South Street, Galesburg, IL 61401-
4999. Phone: +1-309-341-7525; E-mail:
On Creepiness
Given how frequently the concept of “creepiness” is invoked in everyday life to describe
the relationships and encounters that we have with others, it is surprising that it has not
been studied in a formal way. This study attempted to uncover the cues that are used to
label someone as “Creepy” and to identify the basic elements of creepiness. An
international sample of 1,341 individuals (1029 females, 312 males; ages 18-77, M(SD) =
28.97 (11.34)) responded to an online survey about creepiness. The results revealed that
males are perceived as creepier than females and that females are more likely to associate
sexual threat with creepiness. Nonverbal behaviors and characteristics associated with
unpredictability are also predictors of creepiness, as are some occupations and hobbies.
The results are consistent with the hypothesis that being “creeped out” is an evolved
adaptive emotional response to ambiguity about the presence of threat that enables us to
maintain vigilance during times of uncertainty.
Keywords: creepiness, nonverbal behavior, emotion, person perception, threat perception,
evolutionary psychology
On Creepiness
On the Nature of Creepiness
Most people have probably used the concept of “creepiness” to describe reactions
to the behaviors of individuals that they have encountered in real life or in the movies,
and an initial perception of an individual as “creepy” undoubtedly creates an impediment
to comfortable future social interactions or relationships with that person. The “creepy”
psychological reaction is both unpleasant and confusing, and it may be accompanied by
physical symptoms such as feeling cold or chilly (Leander, Chartrand, & Bargh 2012).
Although our evidence is completely anecdotal, we believe that creepiness is a universal
human experience that is a by-product of evolved human psychology. In conversations
with people from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, the individuals we questioned
instantly understood what we were asking about and were largely in agreement about the
things that make some individuals come across as creepy. Thus, given its pervasiveness
in everyday human social life, it is very surprising that no one has studied it in a scientific
way. The only research that is even close is the aforementioned study by Leander and
colleagues who discovered that interacting with individuals displaying inappropriate
levels of nonverbal mimicry during social interaction produces an actual physical
sensation of feeling cold. Their explanation for the phenomenon is that such non-
normative nonverbal behaviors signal a social mismatch and put us on our guard against a
cold and potentially untrustworthy interaction partner. The fact that social exclusion and
other types of social threat produce similar feelings of “getting the chills” is consistent
with the idea that our “creepiness detector” is in fact a defense against some sort of threat
(Knight & Borden 1979; Zhong & Leonardelli 2008).
On Creepiness
But what exactly is it that our creepiness detector is warning us about? It cannot
just be a clear warning of physical or social harm. A mugger who points a gun in your
face and demands money is certainly threatening and terrifying, and a rival who threatens
to destroy your reputation by revealing secret information about you fills you with dread.
Yet, most people would probably not use the word “creepy” to describe these situations.
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 and reputation-
savaging situations, there is no ambiguity about the presence or nature of threat. It may
be that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get
“creeped out,” which could be adaptive if it facilitates our ability to maintain vigilance
during periods of uncertainty.
Creepiness may be related to the “agency-detection” mechanisms proposed by
evolutionary psychologists (Atran 2002; Barrett 2005). To oversimplify a bit, these
mechanisms have evolved as adaptations to protect us from harm at the hands of
predators and enemies. If you are walking down a dark city street and hear the sound of
something moving in the dark alley to your right, you will respond with a heightened
level of arousal and sharply focused attention and behave as if there is a willful “agent”
present who is about to do you harm. If it turns out that it is just the wind or a stray cat,
you have lost little by over-reacting, but if you fail to activate the alarm response when
there is in fact a threat present, the cost of your miscalculation may be quite high. Thus,
humans have evolved to err on the side of detecting threats in such ambiguous situations.
On Creepiness
Consequently, people become uneasy in environments that are dark and/or offer a lot of
hiding places for potential predators and also lack clear, unobstructed views of the
landscape. These environmental qualities have been called “prospect” and refuge” by the
British geographer Jay Appleton (1975, 1984). Fear of crime and a pervasive sense of
unease are experienced in environments with less than optimal combinations of prospect
and refuge (Fisher & Nasar 1992). So, it is not the clear presence of danger that makes us
feel creepy, but the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.
It is the goal of this study to uncover the cues that we use to label other people as
creepy and to identify the building blocks of this thing we call “creepiness.” Szczurek,
Monin, & Gross (2012) have found that we wish to keep greater social distance between
ourselves and individuals who display inappropriate or non-normative expression of
emotion, and Leander et al (2012) indicated that inappropriate nonverbal behaviors may
serve as creepiness cues, but surely there must be other things. Are particular physical
characteristics or types of people considered creepy? Do certain occupations or hobbies
also cause us to perceive others as creepy? Is creepiness a characteristic of humans alone,
or can places, things, and animals be thought of as creepy too? At this time, we simply
do not know the answers to these questions.
Since there is no previous body of research and theory to build upon directly, this
study is unavoidably exploratory in nature. However, there are a few hypotheses that can
be tested.
1) If creepiness communicates potential threat, males should be more likely to be
perceived as creepy than females, since males are simply more violent and
physically threatening to more people (McAndrew 2009).
On Creepiness
2) Related to the first prediction, females should be more likely than males to
perceive some sort of sexual threat from a creepy person.
3) Occupations that signal a fascination with threatening stimuli (e.g, death or
“non-normative” sex) may attract individuals that would be comfortable in
such a work environment. Hence, some occupations should be perceived as
creepier than other occupations.
4) Since we hypothesize that creepiness is a function of uncertainty about threat,
non-normative nonverbal behaviors and behaviors or characteristics
associated with unpredictability will be positively associated with perceptions
of creepiness.
A snowball sampling technique was employed to recruit participants.
People were recruited through invitations to Facebook events that were created by
the researchers, through campus-wide emails distributed to students, faculty, and
staff at a liberal arts college in the American Midwest, and through the “Social
Psychology Network” website. Volunteers were encouraged to forward the link
to the online survey to their friends and acquaintances. A brief description of the
study and a link to the survey were posted on the invitation page. This resulted in
a final sample of 1,341 individuals (1,029 females, 312 males) ranging in age
from 18 to 77 with a mean age of 28.97 (SD = 11.34). We did not ask
participants to report their country of origin, but in an unrelated study using an
On Creepiness
identical recruitment strategy, respondents from 54 different nations were
acquired. Thus, although our sample was primarily American, we are confident
that there was significant international representation. Participants had to check a
box confirming that they were at least 18 years of age before they could access
the survey.
Procedure and Materials
An online survey was created using Google Documents. Participants began the
survey by reporting their sex and age and by responding to a forced choice question that
asked them to choose whether they thought that a creepy person was more likely to be a
male or a female. They then proceeded to a survey divided into four sections.
In the first section of the survey, participants considered the following scenario:
Imagine a close friend of yours whose judgment you trust. Now imagine
that this friend tells you that she or he just met someone for the first time
and tells you that the person was “creepy.”
After reading this scenario, the participants rated the likelihood that the creepy person
exhibited 44 different behaviors (e.g., the person never looked your friend in the eye) or
physical characteristics (e.g., this person had visible tattoos) on a “1” (very unlikely) to
“5” (very likely) scale.
In the second section of the survey, participants rated the creepiness of 21
different occupations on a “1” (not at all creepy) to “5” (very creepy) scale.
In the third section of the survey, participants simply listed two hobbies (via free
response) that they thought were creepy.
On Creepiness
In the fourth and final section of the survey, participants expressed their degree of
agreement with 15 statements about the nature of creepy people on a “1” (strongly
disagree) to “5” (strongly agree) scale. Examples of these statements include the
“I am uncomfortable because I cannot predict how he or she will behave.”
“I think that the person has a sexual interest in me.”
“People are creepier online than when I meet them face-to-face.”
There was one final question on the survey. Participants chose a response of
“yes,” “no,” or “unsure” to the question “Do most creepy people know that they are
Tests of Hypotheses. The first prediction was that creepy individuals would be
expected to be males more often than females. This prediction was assessed directly via
the question that asked people to choose whether a creepy person was more likely to be a
male or a female. 95.3% of our respondents thought that creepy people were much more
likely to be males than females, a finding that was highly significant, Χ
(1, N = 1,341) =
1100.84, p. < .00001. This perception was equally likely to be held by male participants
(95.5% vs. 4.5%) and female participants (95.2% vs. 4.8%). Thus, our first prediction
was supported: males are creepier than females.
The second prediction was that females are more likely to perceive a sexual threat
from a creepy person than are males. This hypothesis was tested with a-priori t tests
comparing male and female responses to two items: The degree to which steering a
On Creepiness
conversation toward sex was perceived as a probable characteristic of a creepy person
and the degree to which the respondent agreed with the statement that the creepy person
“has a sexual interest in me.” The prediction was supported by both of these items.
Females were more likely than males to think that steering a conversation toward sex was
characteristic of a creepy person, t (1339) = 5.46, p. < .0001, Means (SD) = 4.23 (.930)
vs. 3.90 (1.03), and they were also more likely to think that the creepy person had a
sexual interest in them, t (1339) = 7.63, p. < .0001, Means (SD) = 3.51 (1.02) vs. 2.99
The third prediction was that occupations would differ in their level of creepiness
according to how threatening or strange the “subject matter” of the occupation is. The
means and standard deviations of the creepiness ratings for the 21 stimulus occupations
are displayed in Table 1. A repeated measured ANOVA using a Greenhouse-Geisser
adjustment revealed that the differences in how occupations were rated was highly
significant, F (13.636, 18271.956) = 734.29, p. < .00001, η
= .354. A Tukey test (HSD
= .01) indicated that all of the occupations except two (construction workers and
computer software engineers) were significantly different from each other. However,
one-sample t tests revealed that only four occupations were judged to be significantly
higher than the neutral value of “3” on the creepiness rating scale: Clowns, t (1340) =
21.14, p. < .0001, Taxidermists, t (1340) = 21.46, p. < .0001, Sex Shop Owners, t (1340)
= 9.09, p. < .0001, and Funeral Directors, t (1340) = 6.58, p. < .0001. Therefore, it
appears that occupations associated with death (taxidermy and funeral directors) or
reflective of a fascination with sex (sex shop owners) are perceived as creepy; clowns
were the creepiest of all.
On Creepiness
The fourth prediction was that things that make a person unpredictable also
predict creepiness. One item among the ratings of creepy individuals (“I am
uncomfortable because I cannot predict how he or she will behave”) and one item among
the items assessing beliefs about creepy people (“Even though someone may seem
creepy, I usually think that I understand his or her intentions”) allowed a direct test of this
prediction. A one-sample t test revealed that the mean rating for being uncomfortable
because of an inability to predict behavior (4.33 on a 5 point scale, SD = .815) was
significantly above the neutral point of 3.0, t (1340) = 59.96, p. < .00001 and therefore
highly likely to be characteristic of creepy individuals. The mean for the item about
understanding the intentions of a creepy person (2.96 on a 5 point scale, SD = .966) was
just below and not significantly different from the neutral point of “3”, meaning that
believing that one understands the intentions of an individual makes them less creepy, t
(1340) = 1.67, p. = 0.096. Collectively, the results of the analyses of these two items
indicate that unpredictability is indeed an important component of creepy behavior.
Data Reduction and Exploratory Analyses. The many items in our survey
afford ample opportunities for exploration of the elements of creepiness. Our first step in
this direction was to combine items that seemed to be measuring the same thing within
the two longest sections of our questionnaire. The first section contained 44 items
assessing the likelihood that a creepy person described by one’s trusted friend would
display a particular behavior or possess a particular physical characteristic. In an attempt
to reduce the number of “dependent” variables to be analyzed, these 44 items were
subjected to a principal components factor analysis using varimax rotation. Only items
with factor loadings exceeding .50 on a common factor would be combined into a single
On Creepiness
composite variable for further analysis. The factor analysis was able to identify only one
factor that connected multiple variables. This factor included 15 of the 44 items, all of
which reflected a nonverbal behavior or physical characteristic of creepy people. A new
variable called Appearance/NVB was calculated by computing a mean based upon the
scores of each individual on these 15 items. The 15 items that comprised this new
variable are as follows. The factor loading for each item is given in parentheses.
The person stood too close to your friend (.509)
The person had greasy hair (.582)
The person had a peculiar smile (.546)
The person had bulging eyes (.563)
The person had long fingers (.503)
The person had unkempt hair (.609)
The person had very pale skin (.566)
The person had bags under his or her eyes (.599)
The person was dressed oddly (.601)
The person licked his or her lips frequently (.580)
The person was wearing dirty clothes (.571)
The person laughed at unpredictable times (.546)
The person made it nearly impossible for your friend to leave the conversation
without appearing rude (.500)
The person relentlessly steered the conversation toward one topic (.519)
This new composite Appearance/NVB variable along with the remaining 29 items
from the first portion of the questionnaire were analyzed via one-sample t tests to
determine which of these characteristics was significantly above the neutral point of “3,”
On Creepiness
and therefore very likely to be a characteristic of a creepy person. The means, standard
deviations, and results of the t tests are presented in Table 2. Given the large number of
comparisons that were made and the exploratory nature of these comparisons, a
Bonferroni correction suggested that a more conservative p-value of .002 should be the
guide for determining which differences are least likely to have been due to chance. An
examination of Table 2 reveals that the following elements were thought to be very likely
to be found in a creepy person: The appearance and nonverbal behavior items in the
composite variable (Appearance/NVB), being of the opposite sex (probably due to the
predominantly female sample in our study), being extremely thin, not looking the
interaction partner in the eye, asking to take a picture of the interaction partner, watching
people before interacting with them, asking about details of one’s personal life, having a
mental illness, talking about his/her own personal life, displaying too much or too little
emotion, being older, and steering the conversation toward sex.
Similarly, the section of the questionnaire consisting of 15 items that reflected
beliefs about the nature of creepy people was subjected to a principal components factor
analysis using varimax rotation. Only items with factor loadings exceeding .50 on a
common factor would be combined into a single composite variable for further analysis.
The analysis yielded four factors on which at least two items loaded. The first factor
tapped into how fearful or anxious the person felt while interacting with a creepy person,
and it included the following items, with factor loadings in parentheses. Each statement
began with the expression “When I meet someone that seems creepy . . .
I am sure that the person intends to harm me (.691)
I am uncomfortable because I cannot predict how he or she will behave (.718)
On Creepiness
I feel anxious (.756)
I believe that he or she is intentionally hiding something from me (.509)
The second factor reflected how intimately involved one would be with a creepy person,
and it consisted of two items:
People are less creepy if I know I won’t have to speak to them ever again (.553)
People are creepier when I meet them online compared to face-to-face (.526)
The third factor measured the extent to which creepiness is an inherent part of the
individual, and it consisted of two items:
Some people can do the exact same behavior as someone else and one person can
be perceived as creepy while the other person is not (.629)
Behaviors often admired in “bad guys” in movies and TV shows are actually
really creepy if done in real life (.586)
The fourth factor reflected the extent to which people willfully deviate from social norms,
and it consisted of two items:
When I meet someone who seems creepy, I expect him or her to follow the usual
rules for socially acceptable behavior (.634)
People choose to act in a creepy manner (.532)
New composite variables labeled “fearfulness,” “proximity,” “individual creepiness,” and
“non-normativity,” were calculated by computing a mean of the items that loaded on each
These four composite variables along with the remaining 5 items from the last
portion of the questionnaire were analyzed via one-sample t tests to determine which of
these characteristics was significantly different from neutral point of “3,” and therefore
strongly believed to be characteristics of a creepy person. The means, standard
deviations, and results of the t tests are presented in Table 3. Given the large number of
On Creepiness
comparisons that were made and the exploratory nature of these comparisons, a
Bonferroni correction suggested that a more conservative p-value of .005 should be the
guide for determining which differences are least likely to have been due to chance. An
examination of Table 3 reveals that the following things were believed to be true of a
creepy person:
They make us fear fearful/anxious (composite fearfulness variable)
Creepiness resides in the individual more than in his/her behavior (composite
individual creepiness variable)
We think they may have a sexual interest in us
They are creepy when they exhibit multiple “symptoms” of creepiness rather than
just one
The expected intimacy and frequency of interaction with the person moderates
perceptions of creepiness
Creepy people are unable to change, but they do not necessarily have bad
People who follow social rules of behavior are not perceived as creepy
There was also one final item in which participants chose among “yes,” “no,” and
“unsure” in response to the question “Do most creepy people know that they are creepy?”
The responses were 115 “yes” (8.6%), 797 “no” (59.4%), and 429 “unsure” (32%),
indicating that our participants did not believe that most creepy people know that they are
creepy, Χ
(2, N = 1,341) = 401.02.84, p. < .0001.
Correlations with Age. There were many significant correlations between the
age of the participant and his/her responses to the items in the survey. Given the
exploratory nature and large number of these correlation coefficients, we will not discuss
them in any detail here. However, the general finding of interest was that older people
On Creepiness
seemed to be less alarmed by creepy people than are younger people, being less likely to
perceive sexual threat, r (1341) = -0.21, p. < .0001, or intended harm, r (1341) = -0.11, p.
< .0001. They also expressed less anxiety at the prospect of interacting with a creepy
person, r (1341) = -0.13, p. < .0001.
Creepiness of Hobbies. Just for fun, we asked our participants to list two
hobbies that they thought of as creepy. Easily, the most frequently mentioned creepy
hobbies involved collecting things (listed by 341 of our participants). Collecting dolls,
insects, reptiles, or body parts such as teeth, bones, or fingernails was considered
especially creepy. The second most frequently mentioned creepy hobby (listed by 108
participants) involved some variation of “watching.” Watching, following, or taking
pictures of people (especially children) was thought to be creepy by many of our
participants, and bird watchers were considered creepy by many as well. A fascination
with pornography or exotic sexual activity and taxidermy were also frequently
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 (McAndrew 2009), and
they were more likely to be perceived as creepy by males and females alike. 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. We are placed on our guard by people who touch us or
exhibit non-normative nonverbal behavior, or those who are drawn to occupations that
On Creepiness
may reflect a fascination with death or unusual sexual behavior. People who have
hobbies that involve collecting things that we are predisposed as a species to fear such as
spiders and snakes (Öhman, Flykt, & Esteves 2001; Rakison 2009) 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. We are also wary of individuals who have a preoccupation with
monitoring the behavior of others.
While they may not be overtly threatening, individuals who display unusual
nonverbal behaviors (Leander et al 2012), odd emotional behavior (Szczurek et al 2012),
or highly distinctive physical characteristics are outside of the norm, and by definition
unpredictable. This activates our “creepiness detector” and increases our vigilance as we
try to discern if there is in fact something to fear or not from the person in question.
Interestingly, our results indicate that we do not necessarily assume ill intentions from
people who are creepy, although we may still worry that they are dangerous. Most of our
subjects believed that creepy people cannot change, and only a small minority of our
subjects (8.6%) believed that creepy people are aware that they are creepy.
As always, after the fact we can think of things that should have been done
differently. We are assuming significant international representation in our sample, but
in hindsight it would have been useful to have data on the nationalities of our participants
so that cross-cultural comparisons could have been made. We also wish that we had
specifically identified the hypothetical friend interacting with a creepy person in the first
part of our questionnaire as a same-sex friend, as this would have allowed a more
nuanced examination of sex differences in the perception of creepy individuals. It looks
as if most of our participants were thinking of the scenario in this way, but there is no
On Creepiness
way that we can be sure. It might also have been enlightening to ask individuals to rate
themselves on creepiness on the chance that this may have been a good predictor of
something else. Finally, we must also acknowledge the limitations of self-selection that
occur in any study in which people voluntarily spend time filling out an online survey,
especially when the sample is drawn primarily from individuals who were recruited by
way of Facebook pages.
In spite of these limitations, we believe that our research is a good first step in
looking at a topic that has not been studied before, and we see nothing in our data to
discourage us from pursuing the idea that creepiness is an adaptive human response to the
ambiguity of threat from others. In other words, creepy individuals provide us with the
social equivalent of the less than optimal “prospect and refuge” found in the physical
settings that make us uneasy (Fisher & Nasar 1992). Consequently, we would like to
extend this line of research in future studies by looking at responses to creepy places
(e.g., haunted houses) as well as to creepy people to determine if our creepiness detectors
are attuned specifically to social interaction, or if they function in response to the
ambiguity of threat in general.
On Creepiness
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On Creepiness
infancy?” Evolution and Human Behavior, 3: 438-444.
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On Creepiness
Table 1
Creepiness Ratings of Occupations
Occupation Mean SD
Clown 3.71 1.24
Taxidermist 3.69 1.19
Sex Shop Owner 3.32 1.30
Funeral Director 3.22 1.23
Taxi Driver 2.86 1.19
Unemployed 2.83 1.29
Clergy 2.57 1.28
Janitor 2.51 1.19
Garbage Collector 2.25 1.12
Guard 2.18 1.08
Writer 2.14 1.08
Actor 2.13 1.02
Construction Worker* 2.09 1.09
Computer Software Engineer* 2.09 1.11
Cafeteria Worker 2.08 1.06
Financial Adviser 1.78 0.98
Doctor/Physician 1.77 0.96
College Professor 1.67 0.86
Farmer 1.65 0.90
Teacher 1.57 0.82
Meteorologist 1.53 0.83
Note: Occupations marked with an asterisk are not significantly different from each other
(Tukey HSD = .01). Ratings were made on a “1” (not very creepy) to “5” (Very creepy)
On Creepiness
Table 2
One Sample t-test Results for Ratings of Probable Characteristics of a Hypothetical
Creepy Person Interacting with Friend of Participant
Variable/Questionnaire Item Mean (SD) t value p.<
Appearance/NVB (Composite) 3.87 (0.54) 59.69 .0001
Talked a lot about clothes 1.91 (0.91) 44.13 .0001
Extremely thin 3.18 (0.90) 7.45 .0001
Dressed too formally for situation 2.64 (1.13) 11.73 .0001
Never looked friend in the eye 3.74 (1.23) 22.20 .0001
Opposite sex of friend 4.01 (1.09) 33.99 .0001
Muscular 2.41 (0.93) 23.18 .0001
Asked to take picture of friend 4.11 (1.03) 39.55 .0001
Watched friend before interacting 4.55 (0.67) 84.66 .0001
Asked for personal details of friend’s family 4.09 (0.94) 42.70 .0001
Tall 3.08 (0.91) 3.02 .0003
Greasy Hair 3.90 (0.91) 36.43 .0001
Same sex as friend 2.25 (0.91) 30.35 .0001
Smiled a lot 2.82 (1.07) 6.26 .0001
Had mental illness 3.45 (1.06) 15.57 .0001
Talked a lot about personal life 3.41 (1.15) 13.03 .0001
Touched friend frequently 4.24 (0.92) 49.55 .0001
Was a child 1.67 (0.89) 54.53 .0001
Significantly older than friend 3.72 (1.03) 25.73 .0001
Displayed a lot of emotion 3.15 (1.12) 5.04 .0001
Had facial hair 2.89 (0.97) 4.29 .0001
Crossed arms 2.61 (0.97) 14.65 .0001
Obese 2.63 (0.93) 14.45 .0001
Steered conversation toward sex 4.16 (0.96) 43.89 .0001
Dressed too casually for situation 2.89 (1.04) 3.71 .0001
Fashionably Dressed 1.92 (0.92) 43.19 .0001
Frequently played with hair 2.57 (0.96) 16.49 .0001
Wore revealing clothing 2.57 (0.96) 16.65 .0001
Showed little emotional expression 3.62 (1.07) 21.46 .0001
Nodded frequently 2.82 (0.98) 6.61 .0001
Note: All degrees of freedom (df) = 1340. Ratings are on a “1” (very unlikely that creepy
person displayed this characteristic/behavior) to “5” (very likely that creepy person
displayed this characteristic/behavior) scale.
On Creepiness
Table 3
One Sample t-test Results for Beliefs about the Qualities of Creepy People
Variable/Questionnaire Item Mean (SD) t value p.<
Fearfulness (Composite) 3.79 (0.65) 44.63 .0001
Proximity (Composite) 2.78 (0.91) 8.91 .0001
Individual Creepiness (Composite) 4.18 (0.69) 62.24 .0001
Non-normativity (Composite) 2.56 (0.87) 19.54 .0001
Has bad intentions 2.74 (0.97) 9.87 .0001
Has sexual interest 3.39 (1.08) 13.16 .0001
Intentions are understood 2.96 (0.97) 1.67 .096
Creepier with multiple characteristics 4.35 (0.82) 60.13 .0001
Not possible for creepy person to change 2.66 (1.14) 10.93 .0001
Note: All degrees of freedom (df) = 1340. Ratings are on a “1” (strongly disagree with
statement about creepy person) to “5” (strongly agree with statement about creepy
person) scale.
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