Why do we find clowns so creepy?
WASHINGTON: Long before they donned big feet and balloon pants for children’s birthday parties, clowns were strictly adult entertainment. As dimwitted drunks, hooligans and mischievous miscreants, these court jesters and fools poked fun at Chinese emperors, Roman senators and medieval feudal lords.
Yep, clowns were cultural pranksters long before they morphed into merry fools. They also bore less-thansterling names such as stupidus, scurra and moriones (from which “stupid,” “scurrilous” and “moron” are derived).
So why should we be surprised that clowns are back to being creepy? For the past few months, sinister clown sightings have swept through a dozen US states, and police, teachers, children and adults have had to control irrational fears.
No shock, then, that a study released earlier this year involving an international sample of more than 1 300 people put clown at the top of a list of creepiest occupations, ahead of taxidermist and funeral director. (Oddly, writer came in 11th, just ahead of actor, construction worker and computer software engineer.)
Psychologist Francis T McAndrew, wrote in a journal article titled On the Nature of Creepiness, it was “things that make a person unpredictable also predict creepiness”.
And clowns, frankly, fit the bill.
They wear disguises, might appear to be friendly or happy from their face paint and yet behave differently and you don’t know what they might do next.
“It may be that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get ‘creeped out,’” McAndrew wrote, adding this could be useful if it helped people to stay on guard when they were uncertain about someone or something.
He said being “creepy” was different to being “terrifying” or “disgusting”, descriptions where the conclusions drawn about the person in question are “much more clear cut”.
Then again, the uncanny clown sightings might be more imagination than genuine fright.
According to Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist (someone who studies mythical beasts, such as the Loch Ness Monster), the sightings might be due to a kind of mass hysteria that is most often sparked by children.
The phenomenon carries a “scientific” name, which itself could allay fears for the easily frightened: The Phantom Clown Theory. – Washington Post
Pennywise, the clown from the miniseries IT terrified many viewers.