Why Are People Scared of Clowns?

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Clown-like characters have been around for centuries as jesters and a way to poke fun at powerful people. They were initially meant to bring fun, but have started to get a creepy reputation throughout the years. Why are people afraid of clowns and how did the modern-day jester become a scary movie icon?

Exaggerated facial features

If someone smiles — they're happy. If someone frowns — they're sad. These facial cues are easy to pick up and humans depend a lot on reading facial expressions and cues in order to feel safe and to predict how people are feeling or may react to a situation. But, since clowns paint on their smiles and frowns, you can't read their emotions or know what they're thinking! Also, the exaggerated face paint hides any potential signals they may share, making it nearly impossible for us to know what they're thinking or how they're feeling.

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Color of clown makeup

Not only does clown makeup hide emotional signals and make it unable to read facial cues, but the color of the makeup is also concerning. Often white, black, and red… these colors remind us of sickness and in some chances, death.

Unpredictable behavior

Squirting flowers, doing tricks, and fitting into small spaces... the unpredictable things clowns do can often make us feel uneasy. Not knowing what action a clown may take makes us always feel on edge and unable to relax.

Pop culture influences

For most people, a fear of clowns is a combination of human psychology and pop culture. Multiple different movies have created a strange and scary reputation around clowns. When we watch movies, shows, or media that scare us, we can develop a fear in real life. This is the body's way of avoiding something that could potentially be harmful.

In the end, if you want to relax... maybe don't bring in the clowns.

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