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A case of the “heeby jeebies”: An examination of intuitive judgements of “creepiness”.


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The present research examined “creepiness,” a commonly referenced but little understood construct. In Study 1, 185 undergraduates (74% women) provided qualitative data on the defining characteristics of “creepiness.” “Creepiness” was found to reside in the eyes, and was associated with men with ectomorphic-like bodies, with a dishevelled appearance, between 31 and 50 years of age. In Study 2, 48 students (71% women) rated black-and-white photographs of Caucasian male faces on a 7-point Likert-type scale for “creepiness,” trustworthiness, and attractiveness. Pictures included 15 neutral images from the Sterling University Psychological Image Collection, 15 images from America’s Most Wanted website, and 15 images rated most “creepy” in a pilot study. “Creepy” faces were perceived to be significantly less trustworthy, less attractive, and more “creepy” than the other 2 groups. There was a significant correlation between trustworthiness and attractiveness across all 3 groups, with between 25% and 58% of the variance in trustworthiness ratings explained by attractiveness. Results are discussed in terms of how judgments of “creepiness” are made, how “creepiness” may be less about physical peril and more about ambiguity of threat and violations of social norms, and implications for stigmatized populations such as the mentally ill.
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A Case of the “Heeby Jeebies”: An Examination of Intuitive
Judgements of “Creepiness”
Margo C. Watt
St. Francis Xavier University and Dalhousie University Rebecca A. Maitland
St. Francis Xavier University
Catherine E. Gallagher
University of New Brunswick
The present research examined “creepiness,” a commonly referenced but little understood construct. In
Study 1, 185 undergraduates (74% women) provided qualitative data on the defining characteristics of
“creepiness.” “Creepiness” was found to reside in the eyes, and was associated with men with
ectomorphic-like bodies, with a dishevelled appearance, between 31 and 50 years of age. In Study 2, 48
students (71% women) rated black-and-white photographs of Caucasian male faces on a 7-point
Likert-type scale for “creepiness,” trustworthiness, and attractiveness. Pictures included 15 neutral
images from the Sterling University Psychological Image Collection, 15 images from America’s Most
Wanted website, and 15 images rated most “creepy” in a pilot study. “Creepy” faces were perceived to
be significantly less trustworthy, less attractive, and more “creepy” than the other 2 groups. There was
a significant correlation between trustworthiness and attractiveness across all 3 groups, with between
25% and 58% of the variance in trustworthiness ratings explained by attractiveness. Results are discussed
in terms of how judgments of “creepiness” are made, how “creepiness” may be less about physical peril
and more about ambiguity of threat and violations of social norms, and implications for stigmatized
populations such as the mentally ill.
Keywords: “creepiness,” risk analysis, ambiguity, mental illness, stigma
Between the mountains of safety and danger, there is a valley of
creepiness where the limits of our knowledge, trust and security aren’t
very clear. (Stevens, 2013)
Although most people can call to mind a “creepy” person or a
“creepy” situation, the concept of “creepiness” (S. Porter, personal
communication, May 17, 2010) has no clear definition in forensic
psychology and, to date, has inspired only one published study. In
2016, McAndrew and Koehnke published the results of a large
survey (N1341; 77% women; M
29 years) designed to
identify the cues that people use to label others as “creepy.”
Participants were asked to consider a scenario pertaining to a
“creepy” person and to rate the likelihood that the person exhibited
44 different behaviours. Participants also rated the “creepiness” of
21 occupations, cited two “creepy” hobbies, and indicated their
level of agreement with 15 statements about the nature of a
“creepy” person. Results indicated that men were significantly
more apt to be perceived as “creepy” than women, and women
were significantly more apt to associate “creepy” with sexual
threat. Clowns were regarded as the “creepiest” of occupations,
and hobbies that involved collecting or watching things were
perceived as “creepy.” Unpredictability was deemed an important
component of “creepy” behaviour.
McAndrew and Koehnke’s (2016) findings fit with those of
others showing that unusual nonverbal behaviours (e.g., non-
normative amounts of behavioural mimicry) can trigger suspicion
(Leander, Chartrand, & Bargh, 2012), and that odd or inappropri-
ate expressions of emotion can elicit social distancing (Szczurek,
Monin, and Gross (2012). Their findings also fit with the sugges-
tion that “creepiness” arises from ambiguity or lack of clear
meaning in a potential threat. Ambiguity impedes the encoding of
a threat stimulus as either malicious or benign, friend or foe. What
cannot be encoded (known) activates our alarm system (“fear of
the unknown”; Carleton, 2016a); “creepiness” may reside in be-
tween the unknowing and the fear (Petter, 2013).
Ambiguity has been implicated in people’s fears of masks or
clowns (approximately 2% of people self-report a fear of clowns;
Honigmann, 1977;Lévi-Strauss, 1961;Seim & Spates, 2009).
Research with androids also shows that ambiguity can be “creepy.”
The more human-like a robot is, the greater is its likability (i.e., our
affinity for it), but only up to a point. Early research by Mori
(1970/2012) found that, at about 75% familiarity, the robot begins
to appear too human and its likability diminishes dramatically, at
which point it becomes unnerving and frightening—it becomes
“creepy.” This dramatic dip in likability is referred to as the
“uncanny valley” (Mori, 1970/2012), explanations for which in-
clude abnormal facial features, such as unusual eyes (Seyama &
Margo C. Watt, Department of Psychology, St. Francis Xavier Univer-
sity and Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University;
Rebecca A. Maitland, Department of Psychology, St. Francis Xavier Uni-
versity; Catherine E. Gallagher, Department of Psychology, University of
New Brunswick.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Margo C.
Watt, Department of Psychology, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigon-
ish, Nova Scotia, Canada B2G 2W5. E-mail:
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement © 2017 Canadian Psychological Association
2017, Vol. 49, No. 1, 58– 69 0008-400X/17/$12.00
Nagayama, 2007), and violations of expectations, such as a robot
conveying the capacity to experience emotions or a person con-
veying a lack of capacity to do so (see Gray & Wegner, 2012).
In an early essay on the topic, Freud (1919) suggested that the
eyes were the key to the uncanny. Empirical testing of the uncanny
valley hypothesis confirmed a facial feature hierarchy across the
human likeness dimension, with eyes at the top, followed by nose
and mouth in descending order. Evidence supported a greater
preferential processing of eyes and mouth of ambiguous (vs.
unambiguous) avatar faces, with no significant differences be-
tween ambiguous and human faces. Findings applied to men and
women alike, although women generally dwelled more on the eyes
at the expense of the nose (Cheetham, Pavlovic, Jordan, Suter, &
Jancke, 2013).
Other explanations for why someone might be perceived as
“creepy” include inconsistencies between verbal and nonverbal
behaviour (Weisbuch, Ambady, Clarke, Achor, & Weele, 2010)
and deviant displays of emotion (Szczurek et al., 2012). It is also
possible that some people are more apt to perceive “creepiness” in
encounters than others. For example, Stillman, Maner, and
Baumeister (2010) suggested that accurately identifying threat in
social interactions would be more adaptive for females, as they
may have more to lose by making an incorrect threat judgment
than their male counterparts. Consistent with this suggestion,
Stillman et al. (2010) found that female (vs. male) participants
were more likely to perceive higher levels of aggressiveness when
asked to look at a picture for a brief two seconds and, then,
differentiate between violent and nonviolent offenders.
Assessing threat in social interactions can involve two broad
types of processes or systems: analytical (slow, deliberate, requir-
ing more conscious effort) and intuitive (fast, reflexive, and re-
quiring minimal cognitive resources) (e.g., Kahneman, 2013;
Slovic, Finucane, Peters, & MacGregor, 2004). Intuitive judg-
ments rely largely on pattern recognition. They may be triggered
by ambiguous stimuli, such as meeting a person for the first time,
and based primarily on brief scrutiny of the face. The face is the
canvas upon which we display our emotions and intentions and so
is the primary source of scrutiny for many reasons: It is present in
almost all social situations, and its features (until quite recently)
could not easily be altered. Moreover, it seems our brains are
equipped with areas specifically designed to analyse faces (Hassin
& Trope, 2000). When the face is obscured or masked (e.g., a
clown face), we are denied an important source of information
about another’s true emotions, attitudes, intentions, and potential
to do us harm.
Research shows that a person can extract information required
for first impression formation from static photographs presented
for 10 seconds (Berry, 1990). Bar, Neta, and Linz (2006) found
that participants’ initial impressions were formed within the first
39 milliseconds and based on whatever information was available.
To Bar et al. (2006), this speed suggested little depth of analysis
(i.e., more intuitive than analytical). Similarly, Willis and Todorov
(2006) found that minimal exposure (100 milliseconds) to a strang-
er’s face was sufficient to render judgments of trustworthiness and
attractiveness. These trait inferences did not change with longer
exposure, although participants’ confidence in their judgments
Porter, England, Juodis, ten Brinke, and Wilson (2008) exam-
ined the accuracy of first impressions of trustworthiness by having
participants rate the trustworthiness, kindness, and aggressiveness
of static facial images of known dangerous and untrustworthy
individuals selected from America’s Most Wanted Criminals web-
site. Participants also rated “Noble Peace Prize” winners and Order
of Canada Humanitarians, who were presumed to be more trust-
worthy. After being made aware of the two group classifications,
participants evaluated to which group each target face belonged.
Participants showed greater accuracy at judging trustworthy versus
untrustworthy faces, although at levels only slightly above chance.
Longer exposure did not affect the accuracy of judgments, but did
enhance participants’ confidence in their judgments.
“Creepiness” judgments may activate a biased decision-making
process called the Dangerous Decisions Theory (DDT; Porter &
ten Brinke, 2010). The DDT process can result in “tunnel vision”
whereby an individual looks for evidence to confirm their beliefs
and interprets ambiguous information in a way that is in line with
these beliefs. Indeed, recent research by Korva, Porter, O’Connor,
Shaw, and ten Brinke (2013) has revealed that faces varying in
degrees of trustworthiness tend to activate particular biases and
tunnel vision that influence decision-making outcomes. Despite
compelling disconfirming evidence, these intuitive judgments will
endure and will influence subsequent interactions (Porter & ten
Brinke, 2010).
The aforementioned findings fit with others (e.g., Ambady,
Krabbenhoft, & Hogan, 2006) indicating that first impressions are
rapidly formed, durable, and consequential. First impressions can
be vulnerable to biases, however, such as critical thinking errors
(e.g., “tunnel vision” or confirmation bias) or reliance on false
stereotypes. Physical appearance, for example, tends to be over-
weighed in judgments, and this can negatively impact accuracy
(Olivola & Todorov, 2010). Indeed, substantive evidence confirms
a general belief that physically attractive people are intelligent,
competent, and trustworthy, a belief that leads to favourable out-
comes. For example, Porter and ten Brinke (2009) found that
attractive (vs. unattractive) defendants were more likely to be
found not guilty, given shorter sentences, and considered less
A person’s physique also may influence others’ first impres-
sions. For example, a preponderance of research links the meso-
morphic body type (ruggedly muscular) to delinquency and crim-
inal conduct (Ellis & Walsh, 2000). According to Wilson and
Herrnstein (1985), “wherever it has been examined, criminals on
the average differ in that physique from the population at large,
they tend to be more mesomorphic (muscular) and less ectomor-
phic (linear).” Butler, Ryckman, Thornton, and Bouchard (1993)
conducted two studies in an attempt to determine the full range of
traits associated with each physique. Results of both studies sup-
ported previous findings indicating that people with more meso-
morphic body types tend to be viewed positively, whereas those
with endomorphic body types (soft and round) tend to be viewed
negatively. Interestingly, those with ectomorphic body types were
viewed both ways—favourably in one study and unfavourably in
another—seemingly ambiguously.
While lacking a clear definition (and substantive published
research), it is generally agreed that the term “creepiness” has a
negative connotation. Describing someone as “creepy” could have
a deleterious impact on that person, especially if the label persists
and if the person is a member of a vulnerable population (e.g.,
homeless or mentally ill). Consequently, the present three studies
sought to address a number of questions related to the construct of
“creepiness.” A pilot study was conducted to test items and iden-
tify target images of “creepy” to be used in Studies 1 and 2. Study
1 explored participants’ experiences with, definitions of, and re-
sponses to “creepiness.” Study 2 tested a subset of Study 1 par-
ticipants’ responses to 15 “creepy” images, 15 untrustworthy im-
ages from Porter et al.’s (2008) study, and 15 control or neutral
The present study was impelled by the following hypotheses: (1)
People would report making relatively rapid (vs. more delibera-
tive) judgments of “creepiness” based on facial features, particu-
larly the eyes (Cheetham et al., 2013;Kahneman, 2013); (2)
“creepiness” would relate positively to untrustworthiness, which
would relate negatively to physical attractiveness (Porter et al.,
2009); and (3) women would report identifying “creepy” people
faster, and perceive them as more threatening, than men (see
McAndrew & Koehnke, 2016;Stillman et al., 2010).
All participants in each of the three studies were undergraduate
students, predominantly Euro-Canadian (90%), from a small
undergraduate university in northeastern Nova Scotia, who had
indicated their willingness to participate by signing the informed
consent form. All participants received course credits for partici-
Face stimuli included 45 grayscale photographs of White adult
male faces taken from a frontal perspective; 15 photos contained faces
that obtained the highest “creepiness” ratings in a pilot study (see
below); 15 photos were taken from the University of Sterling Psy-
chological Image Collection (PICS;, rig-
orously tested to ensure that they are emotionally neutral; and 15
photos were faces of criminals taken from the America’s Most
Wanted list (AMW;
lists.cfm). The same photos that were used in Porter et al.’s (2008)
study were used here with permission of the authors. Images were
presented via an overhead projector onto a large overhead screen,
controlled by a Macintosh computer.
Assessment of Traits Inventory (ATI; Porter et al., 2008): The
ATI is a rating sheet designed to assess trait judgments made by
participants after exposure to a target face, in this case, trait
judgments of trustworthiness, attractiveness, and “creepiness.” Re-
sponse options for each trait scale ranged from 1 (not at all)to7
(extremely), an optimal number of response categories (Preston &
Colman, 2000). Average rating scores were calculated for the 15
images in each group for each of the three traits. This aggregation
procedure was deemed to be justified following the factor analysis
of each group of 15 images (PICS, AMW, and Pilot), as well as an
assessment of the internal coherence of each scale. Exploratory
factor analysis (EFA) was conducted using the procedures recom-
mended through FACTOR (Lorenzo-Seva & Ferrando, 2015), an
approach found to be preferable to SPSS for running EFAs with
ordinal data (see Baglin, 2014). Each group of images was sub-
mitted to parallel analysis based on minimum rank factor analysis.
In each case, suitability of the data was determined by evidence of
substantial correlations between items, statistically significant Bar-
tlett’s tests, and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin statistics above .70. In each
case, the advised number of dimensions was one based on the 95th
percentile of random percentage of variance. Also in each case,
evidence of excessive kurtosis supported the use of polychoric
correlations. Once the number of dimensions was determined, a
Minimum Average Partial procedure with Promin rotation was run
to assess model fit according to the overall percentage of variance
explained: in this case, PICS 58.48%, AMW 43.29%, Pilot
63.65%. Reliability analyses revealed Cronbach’s alphas [with
95% confidence intervals] for the PICS scale ranged from .87 [.81,
.92] for the “creepiness” scale to .91 [.87, .95] for trustworthiness
and .93 [.89, .96] for attractiveness. Cronbach’s alphas for the
AMW scale ranged from .85 [.77, .91] for the “creepiness” scale to
.87 [.80, .92] for trustworthiness and .96 [.94, .97] for attractive-
ness. Cronbach’s alphas for the Pilot scale ranged from .90 [.86,
.94] for the “creepiness” scale to .93 [.89, .96] for trustworthiness
and .96 [.94, .98] for attractiveness. Results of both factor and
reliability analyses suggest that the 15 images in each group
formed a unidimensional, coherent set.
Pilot Study: Procedure and Results
Participants were 51 third-year undergraduates [82% women;
(SD)20.86 (1.08) years] seated in a classroom in front of
a large projector screen displaying a white screen with a blue circle
in the middle. First, participants completed a 15-item questionnaire
pertaining to their personal experiences and perceptions of “creep-
iness” (see Appendix A). Then, participants were shown 40 slides
of target facial images (all adult Caucasian males, displayed for 10
seconds each) and asked to evaluate each image for “creepiness”
on a 7-point Likert-type scale from 1 (not at all)to7(extremely).
Participants were explicitly instructed to follow their immediate
“gut reaction” when judging each image so as to ensure that
intuitive judgments were being made.
Frequency analysis indicated that 98% of participants reported
having experienced a “creepy” encounter, with most (80%) report-
ing that situational factors influenced their judgments. For exam-
ple, participants indicated that “creepy” encounters tended to occur
in the “evening” (74%) or “late at night” (96%). Many (88%)
mentioned public places such as bars, parks, on the street, or in
malls as likely places for a “creepy” encounter. Participants’
definitions of “creepiness” revealed certain patterns or themes
, all
revolving around the notion of “difference” or non-normative
conduct. This “difference” tended to include behaviours deemed
socially unacceptable (e.g., staring, making inappropriate com-
ments, being unacceptably touchy, or invading another’s personal
space), and odd physical appearance as indicated by the person’s
dress or comportment. Participants indicated feeling scared, ner-
Analysis of thematic content involved categorizing responses based on
similar content (i.e., physical appearance, behaviour). The pattern that
emerged was one of ‘difference’ or non-normative conduct. This was
conducted by the second author and subsequently confirmed by the first
author although formal interrater reliability analysis was not conducted.
vous, anxious, or worried (69%); awkward or uncomfortable
(59%); vulnerable or violated (18%); alert or aware (8%) while in
the presence of a “creepy” individual.
Participants unanimously agreed that behaviour was an impor-
tant consideration in their “creepiness” evaluations, although the
majority (80%) also believed that “creepiness” resided in the face.
All participants reported feeling like they made judgments of
“creepiness” in less than a minute (instantly 41%, 10 seconds
33%, 30 seconds 21%, 60 seconds 5%). Participants also
reported relatively high levels of confidence in their judgments,
with 24% claiming that they were “very accurate” at judging
“creepiness” and 49% claiming to be “somewhat accurate.” Only
4% indicated some doubt about their ability to judge “creepiness.”
Median “creepiness” ratings for the 40 slides of target facial
images ranged from a high of 7.00 to a low of 2.00, with 62.4% of
scores at or above 4 (neutral). The 15 images judged to be the
“creepiest” (scoring 5.00 or approximately top
) were included
in Study 2.
Study 1
Participants were 186 first-year undergraduates [76% women; 2
missing; M
19.16 (3.31) years] who completed a 12-item
questionnaire pertaining to “creepiness” (see Appendix B), derived
from responses to the pilot study questionnaire. Upon completion,
students were invited to participate in a follow-up lab-based study.
Responses for one participant were excluded due to incomplete
data, leaving a final sample of 185.
When Study 1 participants were prompted to explain what a
“creepy” person looked like, 43% mentioned hygiene (e.g., “man
in 40s or 50s, skinny, greasy hair” and “dirty, greasy, unshaven
man”). Another 35% mentioned specific facial or physical features
(e.g., “skinny, dark features, not attractive” and “lanky and skinny,
longer hair—can also be bigger with a beard”), and 8% of partic-
ipants cited clothing (e.g., “someone dressed in a long coat, hood
up, looking down”). Only 10% of people indicated that “creepi-
ness” was indiscernible based on appearance but, instead, was a
behavioural concept. Women (vs. men) were significantly more
apt to cite hygiene as a factor in “creepiness,”
(4) 15.41, p
.004, ␸⫽.27 (medium effect size).
When asked for a more in-depth description of the mental image
associated with a “creepy” person, 97% of participants (both men
and women) indicated the person was male, with either a dishev-
elled (69%) or unremarkable outward appearance (22%). Most
participants (51%) specified that they associated “creepiness” with
an ectomorphic (linear) body type versus a mesomorphic (muscu-
lar; 24%) or endomorphic (rounded; 23%) body type, or some
combination (2%). The most commonly cited age range for “creep-
iness” was between 31 and 50 years (57%), followed by under 30
years (22%), above 50 years (13%), and any age (8%). Men and
women did not differ in their perceptions of body type,
3.64, p.30, nor age group,
(3) 5.76, p.12.
The behaviours most often associated with a “creepy” person
included the “loner” type as typified by being unusually quiet and
staring (34%), following or lurking (15%), behaving abnormally
(21%), or in a socially awkward, “sketchy” or suspicious way
(20%), being overly talkative or touchy (5%), or acting invasively
and speaking in an inappropriate manner (5%). Again, most par-
ticipants indicated that they were making judgments of “creepi-
ness” instantly (72%) or within a few minutes (18%). The remain-
ing 10% indicated that a longer period of time (e.g., two hours,
many interactions over a span of days) was needed to evaluate
“creepiness.” When asked how they would behave in the presence
of a “creepy” individual, most (72%) said they would avoid or
ignore the person; 14% said they would act normally until able to
leave; and 14% said they would take some other form of action
(e.g., “confront the individual”). Men and women did not differ in
their perceptions of behaviour,
(5) 7.31, p.19, nor time to
render judgments,
(2) 5.15, p.08.
Consistent with predictions, most (84%) participants, both men and
women, agreed that “creepiness” resides in the face, with the majority
associating “creepiness” with the eyes (80%) and teeth (54%). No
gender differences were found for the identification of eyes,
0.66, p.42, nor teeth,
(1) 0.33, p.57. Other facial features
identified were eyebrows (36%), lips (35%), jaw (21%), nose (18%),
forehead (16%), chin (11%), cheeks (11%), and ears (5%). The three
main features of “creepiness” in the eye region included the way the
individual looked at you (e.g., staring or glaring; 54%); the physical
structure of the eye (e.g., squinty, small, sunken; 35%); and particular
eye movements (e.g., darting, shifty, wandering eyes; 10%). Regard-
ing teeth, 85% of participants found unattractive teeth (e.g., “missing,
crooked, dirty”) to be “creepy,” and 15% found particular expressions
involving teeth (e.g., “smiling oddly”) to signify “creepiness.” Men
and women did not differ in their reporting of facial features [eyes:
(2) 3.93, p.14; teeth:
(1) 0.57, p.45].
Study 2
Study 2 included 42 participants [81% women; M
(3.24) years; 91% Euro-Canadian] derived from Study 1. Partici-
pants were seated in a classroom in front of a large projector screen
displaying a white screen with a blue circle in the middle. Partic-
ipants were provided with a copy of the ATI (Porter et al., 2008)
and then directed to rate each of the 45 male facial images from 1
(not at all)to7(extremely) on degree of “creepiness,” attractive-
ness, and trustworthiness. Ratings were counterbalanced (7 to 1)
for half of the participants.
Each slide was presented for 15
, followed by a mask for five seconds. The mask was a
blank white screen with a blue circle in the middle, identical to the
slide displayed at the beginning of the study. Slides were randomly
presented and each slide was shown only once. Again, participants
were instructed to follow their immediate “gut reaction” when
15 of the 42 participants used a reverse keyed ATI scale to rate the 3
traits trustworthiness, attractiveness, creepiness—following exposure to
each target image. For these 15, reverse scoring was done so as to align the
scores with the other 27 participants with high scores indicating more of a
particular trait. When tested, significant differences were found for 4 of the
15 AMW (not PICS nor Pilot) creepiness (not trustworthy nor attractive)
trait scores, whereby the creepiness scores for those 4 participants with a
reversed ATI were significantly higher than the creepiness scores for those
participants with a nonreversed ATI. The images (and pvalues) in these 4
cases were as follows: #11 (.02), #19 (.04), #35 (.01), and #45 (.03). Given
that subsequent analyses were conducted for each image group separately,
and that AMW creepiness scores were significantly lower than Pilot
creepiness scores, this finding was not deemed to be problematic.
We used 10 seconds in the pilot study so as to be consistent with Porter
et al. (2008); however, because our study included an additional trait
(creepiness), we opted to add more time so as to ensure that participants
had ample time to view the image and to judge traits via the ATI.
judging. If a participant recognised a face, they were asked to alert
the experimenter.
Descriptive statistics for the three image groups: PICS (neutral),
AMW (untrustworthy), and Pilot (Creepy) for each of the three
ATI trait rating variables—trustworthiness, attractiveness, and
“creepiness”—were calculated. Median and InterQuartile Range
(IQR) values are displayed in Table 1. Spearman rho correlations,
with the Bonferroni corrected significance level set at p.001,
were conducted along with nonparametric bootstrapping (1000
samples) for an estimate of 95% confidence intervals. In three
cases, the correlation was not significant at the 0.05 level but the
confidence intervals indicated that the null hypothesis should not
be accepted (i.e., interval did not contain zero). A significant
negative correlation was found between “creepiness” and attrac-
tiveness for one group only, r
(42) ⫽⫺.32, p.04; CI ⫽⫺.59
to .05 (PICS), r
(42) ⫽⫺.08, p.64, CI ⫽⫺.39 to .28
(AMW), and r
(42) ⫽⫺.27, p.08, CI ⫽⫺.55 to .01 (Pilot).
Significant negative correlations were found between “creepiness”
and trustworthiness for both the PICS, r
(42) ⫽⫺.39, p.01,
CI ⫽⫺.63 to .12, and Pilot, r
(42) ⫽⫺.44, p.004,
CI ⫽⫺.71 to .08, groups but not the AMW group, r
(42) ⫽⫺.31, p.04, CI ⫽⫺.59 to .02. On the other hand,
trustworthiness and attractiveness were significantly and positively
correlated within all three groups, r
(42) .76, p.000, CI
.59 to .88 (PICS), r
(42) .50, p.001, CI .22 to .71 (AMW),
and r
(42) .69, p.000, CI .49 to .82 (Pilot), all with large
effect sizes (Cohen, 1988). Squaring the correlation coefficients
indicated that between 25% and 58% of the variance in trustwor-
thiness was explained by attractiveness.
A series of Friedman tests (nonparametric equivalent of re-
peated measures analysis of variance) were conducted. There was
a statistically significant difference in perceived trustworthiness
depending on picture group. Post hoc analyses with Wilcoxon
signed-ranks test and a Bonferroni corrected significance level
(p.017) indicated significantly higher trustworthiness ratings
for the PICS group than either the AMW or Pilot groups, and
higher ratings for the AMW group than the Pilot group. Effect
sizes ranged from small to medium. Similarly, there was a statis-
tically significant difference in perceived attractiveness depending
on picture group. Post hoc analyses indicated significantly higher
attractiveness ratings for the PICS group than either the AMW or
Pilot groups, and higher ratings for the AMW group than the Pilot
group. All effect sizes were medium. Finally, there was a statisti-
cally significant difference in perceived creepiness depending on
picture group. In this case, post hoc analyses showed significantly
higher ratings of creepiness for the Pilot group than either of the
other two groups, with the AMW ratings higher than the PICS and
lower than the Pilot. All effect sizes were medium. See Table 1 and
Figure 1.
General Discussion
Results of the present study suggest that “creepiness” is a
broadly understood construct, with almost all (98%) participants
reporting having experienced a “creepy” encounter and all partic-
ipants able to offer a description or definition of what was
“creepy.” Definitions of “creepiness” tended to revolve around the
theme of “differentness” as indicated by socially unacceptable or
non-normative behaviours (e.g., staring, inappropriate comments,
invasion of personal space), and odd physical appearance as sug-
gested by poor hygiene, dishevelment, and general unattractive-
Participants associated “creepiness” with men versus women, as
was found in McAndrew and Koehnke’s (2016) study. This find-
ing fits with men typically being physically larger and stronger
than women and, therefore, more apt to pose a physical threat to
others (Oosterhof & Todorov, 2008). The most commonly cited
age range for a “creepy” individual was between 31 and 50 years.
This finding diverges from the research suggesting that youthful
individuals (i.e., between 20 and 30 years) have the greatest
potential for violence, possibly because we typically are in peak
physical condition during our late 20s and early 30s (Stillman et
al., 2010). The present finding implies that participants were not
basing their “creepiness” judgments on whether the individual
necessarily posed a physical threat. It is also possible that the
present sample of young adults viewed individuals in their 30s,
40s, and 50s as “old” and “different.”
Interestingly, the ectomorphic body type (vs. endomorphic or
mesomorphic) was most commonly associated with “creepiness.”
Unlike mesomorphy, ectomorphy, with its prominent features of
linearity and fragility (vs. muscularity), is not usually associated
with high threat potential (Ellis & Walsh, 2000). Indeed, the
ectomorphic body type is more apt to be described as cerebrotonic,
inclined to prefer isolation and solitude. On the other hand, they
have also been described as being tense and anxious, introverted
and secretive, inclined toward emotional restraint and social inhi-
bition (Kamlesh, 2011;Sheldon & Stevens, 1942;Sheldon,
Stevens, & Tucker, 1940). Interestingly, in two studies, Butler et
al. (1993) found that, whereas the mesomorphic body type was
viewed positively and the endomorphic body type was viewed
negatively, the ectomorphic body type was more ambiguous—
viewed favourably in one study and unfavourably in another.
In line with Hassin and Trope’s (2000) findings, participants
reported gathering information from the face when making judg-
ments of “creepiness.” In particular, participants reported prefer-
ential attention to the eye and teeth regions. Finding the eye to be
an important reference point was expected. Porter et al. (2008)
suggest that the amygdala—the brain structure responsible for
assessing emotional expressions (e.g., fear) and key to intuitive
judgments of trustworthiness—guides observers to automatically
attend to the eye region when first viewing a face. Moreover,
research demonstrates that the eye region is important for effective
communication and recognition of emotional and motivational
information (Adams & Kleck, 2005;Calvo & Fernández-Martín,
2013). Present participants indicated that, although abnormal eye
movements (e.g., darting or wandering) and physically unappeal-
ing eyes (e.g., small, sunken, dark) increased an individual’s
“creepiness,” it was the way the person looked at the observer
(e.g., glaring, staring) that was most disconcerting and most apt to
lead to a judgment of “creepiness.”
Preferential attention to the teeth region fits with Cheetham et
al.’s findings with regard to preferential processing of eyes and
mouth with ambiguous (vs. unambiguous) avatar faces. Present
participants reported that the role of teeth cleanliness in facial
expressions was key to “creepiness” judgments. Teeth that were
dirty or unattractive (e.g., missing, crooked, broken), or part of
unusual smiles, were more apt to be associated with “creepiness.”
This attention to teeth might be linked to the increasing popularity
of orthodontic enhancements. This trend may be contributing to a
higher expectation for perfection in people’s teeth leading to dirty
or visually unattractive teeth being seen as violating social norms.
Moreover, Calvo and Fernández-Martín (2013) found that an in-
dividual’s perception of emotional expression in the eye region
was constrained by the emotional expression of the mouth region.
Other research indicates that face-scanning behaviour is an auto-
matic process involving holistic interpretation of facial features
(Richler, Cheung, & Gauthier, 2011), suggesting that the human
face is perceived and represented as a unitary feature rather than
separate parts (e.g., eyes, mouth, nose).
Interestingly, the most highly analysed facial features during
“creepiness” evaluations (that is, eyes, teeth, and, to a lesser extent,
eyebrows and lips) are all key features for emotion transmission.
Researchers (e.g., Stillman et al., 2010) have found certain facial
features (e.g., heavy brow, high masculinity, muscularity) to be
associated with increased judgments of violence. In the present set
of studies, the facial regions typically associated with high levels
of testosterone and masculinity (i.e., prominent brow ridge and
nose, protruding chin; see Pivonkova, Rubesova, Lindova, &
Havlicek, 2011), were reported less often. The fact that facial areas
not typically related to physical strength were more often associ-
ated with “creepiness” than those reliably linked to threat judg-
ments, further suggests that there are different processes at work
when one is evaluating “creepiness” versus threat or trustworthi-
ness. It may be that “creepiness” is more an emotionally based
versus physically based judgment; reliant on emotional informa-
tion gathered from certain key facial features of an individual.
All participants in the present studies reported feeling like they
made their decisions of “creepiness” in less than a minute.
Whereas this seems to suggest an intuitive (vs. more deliberate or
analytical) response, the methodology of the current study pre-
cludes drawing such a conclusion. Dual-systems models of
decision-making and attitude formation contend that intuitive re-
sponding occurs rapidly (within first 39 ms; Bar et al., 2006). The
design of the present study, however, allowed only for partici-
pants’ self-reporting of how quickly they made their judgments.
Research shows that such controlled responding (e.g., to items on
a questionnaire) can be overridden by logical processing (i.e.,
analytical system) (e.g., Strack & Deutsch, 2004). Participants’
confidence in their judgments was quite high with most (73%)
assuming they were quite accurate. Research offers cause for
doubt. Kassin (1985), for example, found no significant relation-
ship between confidence and accuracy in eyewitness identification,
with participants reporting the same level of certainty in their
judgments, whether they accurately identified the suspect or not.
More recently, Porter, ten Brinke, and Gustaw (2010) found that
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics for Study 2 Image Groups
Rating variable
PICS (Neutral) AMW (Untrustworthy) PILOT (‘Creepy’) Friedman
(2, 40) Wilcoxon Z, p
Effect Size
rZ/NMedian [IQR] Median [IQR] Median [IQR]
Trustworthiness 3.83 3.53 2.00 Z⫽⫺1.31, p.001
[Range 0–7] [3.12–4.22] [2.98–4.15] [1.53–2.82] 48.18
95% CI 3.53–4.07 3.23–3.93 1.73–2.57 Z⫽⫺4.79, p.001
Z⫽⫺5.16, p.001
Attractiveness 3.43 2.40 1.67 Z⫽⫺4.48, p.001
[Range 0–7] [2.73–4.05] [1.85–3.05] [1.32–2.12] 55.70
95% CI 3.13–3.93 2.23–2.67 1.43–1.80 Z⫽⫺4.82, p.001
Z⫽⫺4.95, p.001
Creepiness 3.27 3.60 5.17 Z⫽⫺3.09, p.003
[Range 0–7] [2.52–3.95] [2.98–4.20] [4.50–5.60] 55.46
95% CI 2.73–3.60 3.30–3.83 4.90–5.47 Z⫽⫺5.36, p.001
Z⫽⫺5.17, p.001
Note. PICS University of Sterling Psychological Image Collection (neutral); AMW America’s Most Wanted (untrustworthy); Pilot Pilot Study
(creepy); IQR InterQuartile Range; rZ/N(number of observations vs. cases); 95% Confidence Intervals (CI).
Trustworthiness Attractiveness Creepiness
R naideM
Figure 1. Median group ratings for each variable of interest. PICS
University of Sterling Psychological Image Collection (neutral); AMW
America’s Most Wanted (untrustworthy); Pilot Pilot Study (creepy).
when individuals were told to evaluate the criminal culpability of
untrustworthy (vs. trustworthy) faces, they required less evidence
to more confidently render a guilty verdict.
In describing their behaviours when encountering a “creepy”
individual, most participants indicated that they would avoid or
ignore the person, while the remainder would either act normally
until they were able to leave or take another form of action, such
as confronting the individual or socially embarrassing them. These
responses resemble “fight-or-flight” responses similar to those
found by Szczurek et al. (2012). A strong fight response would be
expected if the person was seen as an immediate physical threat.
Instead, we see high levels of avoidance (flight), indicating that the
person is perceived to be undesirable but not necessarily physically
threatening to the observer. This aligns with McAndrew and
Koehnke’s (2016) suggestion that “we do not necessarily assume
ill intentions from people who are creepy, although we may still
worry that they are dangerous” (p. 16).
”Creepiness” correlated positively with untrustworthiness for
two of the three picture groups, and “creepy” faces were rated as
the least trustworthy. Being judged untrustworthy can have dele-
terious ramifications, so it will be important for future research to
establish whether the relationship is ecologically valid. In addition,
given that some of the least trustworthy individuals in our society
(i.e., psychopaths) tend to be perceived as charming, intelligent,
and attractive (i.e., not “creepy”; Richell et al., 2005), the relation-
ship between these two constructs merits further investigation. The
present study found support for the putative association between
physical attractiveness and judgments of trustworthiness (Porter et
al., 2009). Physical attractiveness correlated positively and
strongly with trustworthiness ratings. This fits with the stereotype
that physically attractive people possess other positive attributes
(e.g., intelligence, kindness), which tends to garner them prefer-
ential treatment and tangible benefits. Support was found for a
negative correlation between “creepiness” and attractiveness with
one of the picture groups. If the stereotype regarding physical
attractiveness operates on a continuum from attractive to unattract-
ive, it is possible that individuals perceived as “creepy” might be
ascribed few redeeming character traits. This negative perception
could lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby “creepy” people
get ostracized or accosted, leading them to avoid social interac-
tions and appear more like “loners.” Indeed, present results show
that, after labelling someone as “creepy,” observers are apt to limit
or avoid interaction.
Only one gender difference was found, whereby women were
significantly more apt to cite hygiene as a factor in “creepiness”
than men. Generally speaking, women tend to be more concerned
with matters of hygiene than men (e.g., Haidt, McCauley, &
Rozin, 1994). Because sample sizes of the Pilot Study and Study
2 did not permit the testing of gender differences, questions remain
about the role of gender in judgments of, and responses to, per-
ceived “creepiness.” Of course, other dispositional factors also
may play a role but were not measured in this study. For example,
people may be more (or less) dispositionally inclined to be intol-
erant of ambiguity or intolerant of uncertainty, two related but
distinct constructs. It has been suggested that intolerance of am-
biguity refers to the interpretation of an ambiguous stimulus in the
“here and now,” while intolerance of uncertainty (Carleton, 2012)
refers to the interpretation of a future event (Grenier, Barrette, &
LaDouceur, 2005). This proposition has not been tested empiri-
cally, and future research would benefit by the inclusion of specific
measures of each (e.g., the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale;
Carleton, Norton, & Asmundson, 2007). It seems likely that causal
links exist between perceptions of “creepiness” and intolerance of
ambiguity, intolerance of uncertainty, and/or fear of the unknown.
It is noteworthy that participants’ creepy encounters seemed to
involve situations with several unknowns, which fits well with
extant research in the area and aligns directly with theory (see
Carleton, 2016a,2016b). Future research could manipulate un-
known elements of situations or individual’s presentation to en-
hance or diminish perceptions of creepiness.
The present findings carry potential implications for the real
world. For example, if the label of “creepiness” is too hastily
applied to people who violate social norms, versus criminal laws,
negative consequences could ensue. Once a person is labelled
“creepy,” others may view them as untrustworthy, deservedly or
not. Some of the features of “creepiness” (e.g., unusual eye con-
tact, body language, inappropriate conversation, dishevelment) are
commonly associated with mental illness and may lead to stigma-
tizing attitudes by lay people and health care professionals alike
(Corrigan, 2000). The way participants claimed to interact with
“creepy” people (e.g., avoiding or ignoring, confronting) some-
what mirrors our interactions with people who are homeless or
have been diagnosed with mental illness (e.g., social distancing;
Alexander & Link, 2003). Perhaps, also like people who are
homeless or have been diagnosed with mental illness, “creepy”
people may be seen to pose a greater risk to others (e.g., violence)
than they actually do (e.g., Elbogen & Johnson, 2009). More
research is clearly needed to more fully comprehend the implica-
tions of judging others to be “creepy.”
Results must be considered in light of certain limitations. First,
this was a single-source, single-method study of people’s intuitive
judgments of “creepiness”. Consequently, we cannot draw conclu-
sions as to whether people’s perceptions of “creepiness” align with
their behaviour or reality. This remains a question for future
research. Second, the sample size of Study 2 did not ensure
adequate power for detecting all predicted relations, such as those
between “creepiness” and attractiveness. Further research with
more participants is needed. Third, participants in this study
formed judgments of “creepiness” based on a single, static image
of an individual. A follow-up study utilizing thin slices of behav-
iours (e.g., extremely brief video excerpts of social interactions)
could help determine exactly how people make assessments of
“creepiness” when more complex and dynamic information is
available. Future research could employ an eye tracker, which
would allow researchers to analyse which area of the face partic-
ipants are attending to most. Future research could also include
more rigorous analysis of thematic content of the open-ended
questions. Finally, this study was conducted in a Westernized
culture with a relatively young sample of largely women partici-
pants. Consequently, these results may not be generalizable to
other cultures, age groups, or genders. Whereas there is some
research to suggest cross-cultural similarities in how we perceive
qualities from others’ faces, it appears that cultures may differ in
how we weight and value these qualities (Rule et al., 2010). Future
research on “creepiness” would benefit from the use of more
diverse populations.
In conclusion, judgments of “creepiness” seem to be based on
brief assessments of an individual’s physical appearance and in-
scrutable behaviours, behaviours that may violate social norms.
Violations of social norms can seem unpredictable and introduce
ambiguity of potential threat—an unknowability or “creepiness.”
The label of “creepiness” may stigmatize unattractive and/or un-
usual (e.g., marginalized) individuals. Individuals deemed
“creepy” are more apt to be considered untrustworthy, and
avoided, although the actual risk they pose is not known. More
research on this little understood construct could inform how we
judge risk posed by others—the mysterious and the strangely
La présente recherche porte sur « l’effet dérangeant » que peuvent
susciter certaines personnes. Il s’agit d’un construit souvent men-
tionné, mais bien peu compris. Dans l’Étude 1, on a fourni a
étudiants du premier cycle (74 % de femmes) des données qualitatives
sur les caractéristiques qui définissent l’« effet dérangeant ». On a pu
constater que cet effet provient du regard et qu’il est associé aux
hommes au physique ectomorphe, a
`l’allure peu soignée et âgés de 31
`50 ans. Dans l’Étude 2, on a demandé a
`48 élèves (71 % de femmes)
d’évaluer, au moyen d’une échelle de type Likert a
`7 points, des
photos en noir et blanc d’hommes blancs quant a
`leur « effet déran-
geant », a
`leur fiabilité et a
`leur attrait. Les photos comprenaient 15
images neutres tirées de la Sterling University Psychological Image
Collection, 15 du site Web des criminels les plus recherchés aux
É.-U., et 15 autres d’hommes jugés les plus « dérangeants » dans une
étude pilote. Les visages « dérangeants » ont été jugés de beaucoup
moins fiables, moins attrayants et plus inquiétants que ceux des 2
autres groupes. Il y a une corrélation significative entre fiabilité et
attrait parmi les 3 groupes, l’écart de 25 % a
`58 % dans l’évaluation
de la fiabilité s’expliquant par l’attrait. Les résultats permettent de
discuter de la façon dont se créent les jugements sur l’« effet déran-
geant », en quoi celui-ci est peut-être moins lié au danger physique
`l’ambiguïté de la menace de rupture ou d’écart par rapport aux
normes sociales, ainsi que les répercussions sur des groupes stigma-
tisés, comme les gens souffrant d’une maladie mentale.
Mots-clés : effet dérangeant, analyse des risques, ambiguïté, mala-
die mentale, stigmate.
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(Appendices follow)
Appendix A
Pilot Study Questionnaire
1. Sex: Male____ Female____
2. Age: _______
3. Have you ever had an encounter with a “creepy” person? Yes____ No____
4. If “yes,” please provide a brief description of an encounter with a “creepy” person.
5. How would you define “creepy”?
6. Typically, how long does it take you to decide if someone is “creepy”?
e10 seconds
e30 seconds
e60 seconds
eOther (please specify) _______________________________
7. How accurate are you at judging whether someone is “creepy”?
eVery accurate
eSomewhat accurate
eNeither accurate or inaccurate
eSomewhat inaccurate
eVery inaccurate
8. What do you think makes someone “creepy”?
9. What does a “creepy” person look like?
10. Can you judge whether someone is “creepy” by looking at their face? Yes ____ No____
11. If “yes”, what facial features are most important when judging “creepiness”?
12. Can you judge whether someone is creepy by their behaviour? Yes____ No____
13. If “yes”, what kind of behaviour is considered creepy?
14. How does a creepy encounter make you feel?
15. Where would you most likely encounter a creepy person?
(Appendices continues)
Appendix B
Study One Questionnaire
1. Sex. Male___ Female___ Age: _____
Please Read The Following Excerpt and Answer the Following Questions:
You are eating lunch when a friend comes up to your table, and they explain to you that they have just encountered a very “creepy”
person in the student union building. You ask them to explain what they mean by “creepy.” What was the person doing? What did they
look like? What was it about the person that was “creepy”? Your friend replies, “You know, she/he was just creepy.”
2. When you think of a “creepy” person, what comes to mind? ‘
3. What does your mental image of a “creepy” person look like?
4. What sex is the “creepy” person in your mental image? eMale eFemale
5. What age is the “creepy” person” in your mental image? _________
6. How would you describe his or her outward appearance?
eNeat/well groomed
7. How would you describe his or her body type? (circle most appropriate choice)
8. Does “creepiness” reside in the face? In other words, is there something about a person’s face that indicates “creepiness”?
eYes eNo
9. If Yes, what facial features do you tend to associate with “creepiness”? (check all that apply and explain what it is about that facial
feature that indicates “creepiness”)
eEyes _________________________________________________________
eEyebrows _____________________________________________________
eNose _________________________________________________________
eChin _________________________________________________________
eTeeth ________________________________________________________
eLips _________________________________________________________
eEars _________________________________________________________
eForehead _____________________________________________________
eJaw _________________________________________________________
eCheeks ________________________________________________________
(Appendices continues)
10. How does a “creepy” person act?
11. How long does it take you to decide whether someone is creepy or not?
12. How do you behave toward someone who is creepy?
Appendix C
Study 2 Questionnaire
Assessment of Traits Inventory (ATI; Porter et al., 2008)
Picture 1 Not at all Extremely
Trustworthiness 1 234567
Attractiveness 1 234567
Creepiness 1 234567
(Appendix continues)
Received May 22, 2015
Revision received October 23, 2016
Accepted November 8, 2016
... Creepiness" is a commonly reported but little understood or empirically studied phenomenon. The present research sought to extend seminal work conducted by McAndrew and Koehnke (2016) and Watt et al. (2017) by examining the role of the ambiguity of threat, and attendance to eyes (vs. other facial regions) in perceptions of creepiness. ...
... In a series of three studies with undergraduates (over 70% female), Watt et al. (2017) sought to identify the defining features of creepiness. Results confirmed that males (vs. ...
... 16). With this in mind, Watt et al. (2017) had participants rate images of known "creepy" (as judged in the pilot study), untrustworthy (America's Most Wanted [AMW]), and neutral faces. As predicted, creepiness was inversely correlated with trustworthiness and attractiveness. ...
“Creepiness” is a commonly reported but little understood or empirically studied phenomenon. The present research sought to extend seminal work conducted by McAndrew and Koehnke (2016) and Watt et al. (2017) by examining the role of the ambiguity of threat, and attendance to eyes (vs. other facial regions) in perceptions of creepiness. In Study 1 (N = 254; 79% female) participants completed measures of discomfort with ambiguity, intolerance of uncertainty, and fear of the unknown; then rated 30 facial images for creepiness, trustworthiness, and attractiveness. High discomfort with ambiguity (vs. intolerance of uncertainty and fear of unknown) best predicted creepiness ratings. Study 2 (N = 32; 67% female) utilized eye-tracking to evaluate how observers attended to the eye and noneye regions of two creepy and two neutral male facial images derived from Study 1. Results showed participants fixated significantly longer on the eyes (vs. noneyes) for all facial images. Results are discussed in terms of implications for how we assess risk in daily life, and for those deemed to be creepy.
... The concept of creepiness remains little studied in psychology or marketing (Watt et al., 2017). Creepiness is described as some unpleasant response involving ambiguity with certain emerging forms of HCI (Olivera-La Rosa et al., 2019). ...
... The effective facet is more prominent in the literature; for example, Shklovski et al. (2014) refer to "emotional response to a sense of wrongness that is difficult to clearly articulate" (p. 2347), and Watt et al. (2017) associate it with a feeling of in between the unknowing and fear. The cognitive facet refers to the ambiguity or uncertainty of the situation; faced with the unpredictable aspect of interaction, consumers have more difficulty making judgments about their service experience . ...
... Actually, consumers can no longer meaningfully participate in society without paying with their personal data as a kind of entrance fee (Lutz et al., 2020(Lutz et al., , p. 1169 term "creepiness" (or creepy) is now commonly used in the press media and academic writings, the research topic is still in its infancy Watt et al., 2017). Furthermore, this study tested the two-faceted creepiness scale developed by in the context of an interaction with a chatbot and found that the affective and cognitive facets were inherently inseparable and thus formed a single dimension while other studies (i.e., generally find two dimensions when the scale is used in different contexts (job interviewing). ...
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Consumers sometimes describe their experience of interacting with artificial intelligence‐based human‐like chatbots as creepy. This study investigates the antecedents of creepiness (i.e., the chatbot's usability, privacy concerns, and user variables such as technology anxiety and the need for human interaction) and its impact on consumer loyalty. Grounded in the technology paradox, it deepens the understanding of creepiness in light of the theoretical underpinnings of the privacy paradox and privacy cynicism. Presented with the task of obtaining a car insurance quote, 430 consumers participated in a simulation involving interaction with a chatbot, followed by a questionnaire. The findings show that creepiness decreases loyalty and indirectly impacts it through trust and negative emotions. While usability reduces perceptions of creepiness, privacy concerns raised by the interaction with the chatbot increase creepiness, which is positively associated with consumer traits (i.e., technology anxiety and need for human interaction). The main contribution of the research lies in its focus on creepiness, a concept under‐researched in the marketing literature, and which can be seen from the perspective of a coping mechanism for consumers’ privacy concerns. This paper provides practical implications to orient managers in the design and implementation of chatbots, as a promising touch point to build customer loyalty.
... After adjusting elements such as clothing and picture size, the experimental materials of the three groups of endorsers were obtained. The main difference in the experimental material was the head and face performance of the endorsers; according to the previous concept that face information is a rich source of thin-slice judgments [115,116], the review and estimate of the endorser's face was sufficient to influence consumer attitudes [117], and therefore no significant changes were made to the part of the endorsers below the head. Pictures of the specific stimulus material will be presented in subsequent studies. ...
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Digital endorsers are already utilized extensively in various businesses. The major objective of the current study was to find out the impact of image realism of digital endorsers on the purchase intention of gift products for the elderly. We investigated this issue through three online experiments. Study 1 (n = 205) found that cartoon digital endorsers (vs. realistic digital endorsers) generate higher purchase intention for the product. Study 2 (n = 175) showed that perceived social value plays a mediating role in the relationship between the image realism of digital endorsers and purchase intention. Study 3 (n = 127) demonstrated the moderating role of information framing in the relationship between the image realism of digital endorsers and purchase intention. In all, our research extends the previous literature on digital human endorsements and advertising of elderly products and provides several managerial implications for consumers and marketers.
... The frst HCI work on the phenomenon of creepy user experiences is now ten years old [73]. Following the publication of this work, a subset of computing researchers interested in creepiness began to coalesce [61], with the subsequent expansion of creepiness research into the felds of psychology and legal studies (e.g., [15,30,35,38,77]). In recent years, several major studies about creepiness have been published by the HCI community (e.g., [58,82,84]). ...
... A sense of creepiness, then, may be an adaptive response that increases vigilance towards a socially dangerous target (McAndrew & Koehnke, 2016;Watt et al., 2017). Similarly, research on the "uncanny valley" suggests that deviant facial expressions signal social ambiguity and psychopathic traits (Olivera-La Rosa, 2018;Tinwell et al., 2013). ...
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