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Saturday, July 6, 2013

What Makes People Creepy?


Horrible Horrific Terrible

Trayvon Martin said that a "creepy ass cracka" was following him. 

Let's think how Trayvon Martin must have perceived some strange guy (George Zimmerman) tracking him at night in the rain - like prey.

Highlighted below are reasons why the word "creepy" is key to Trayvon Martin's defense. Excerpts are taken from the academic paper "On the Nature of Creepiness".

The number at the end is the "factor loading", which is explain on page 10 and 11 of the report.


“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)"

George Zimmerman never told Trayvon Martin that he was a neighborhood watchman - which would likely have diffused the situation.

When Trayvon asked George if he had a problem. George had the opportunity to speak to Trayvon as a fellow human being. Instead, George reached for something in his pocket, which from Trayvon's perspective could have been a gun or pepper spray. It may have actually been the gun which would have prompted Trayvon to stand his ground and knock Zimmerman down. 

The following things were believed to be true of a creepy person:


  • They make us fear fearful/anxious
  • Creepiness resides in the individual more than in his/her behavior 
  • 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 intentions

For assessing the likelihood that a creepy person described by one’s trusted friend would display a particular behavior or possess a particular physical characteristic, here are the key findings:


  • 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) 


Additional findings in the paper 


  • Correlations with age
  • Creepiness of hobbies



For a list of all sorts of creepy things check the notes under the about tab on the video (from the YouTube page). 




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.
Published by: http://academia.edu/
Date published: January, 2013

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