'Creepy' jobs and behaviour patterns identified in new survey

'Individuals who display unusual behavioural patterns are outside of the norm, and by definition unpredictable'

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Tuesday 19 April 2016 12:12

Few psychologists have looked into the notion of “creepiness”, but some people definitely seem to have an ability to make others feel uncomfortable.

Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke, of Illinois College, have written a new exploratory paper published in New Ideas in Psychology, which says "creepiness" is what we feel when we think someone may be a threat but are not certain, leaving us "wallowing in unease".

The pair conducted a survey of 1,341 people with an average age of 29, and asked them to rate 44 different patterns of behaviour (eg. Avoiding eye contact), and rate different occupations and hobbies based on their perception of “creepiness”.

Several behavioural patterns and aspects of appearance were consistently rated as creepy characteristics, including “standing too close”, laughing at odd times, and displaying too much or too little emotion.

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

They also ranked the top professions in order of “creepiness” according to the people they surveyed.

The four highest ranking were:

1) Clown

2) Taxidermist

3) Sex shop owner

4) Funeral director

Consistent with McAndrew and Koehnke’s theory that creepiness stems from ambiguity, participants admitted that the reason someone could make them feel uncomfortable was because their behavioural patterns were unpredictable.

Another study published in April 2016 revealed the best and worst jobs according to stress levels, risk, and pay.

Newspaper reporters were deemed to have the worst jobs for the third year in a row, thanks to a precarious industry due to a decline in advertising revenue, while jobs such as pest control workers and military service personnel appeared on the list due to the danger, stress and low pay involved.

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