Whether it's a look, a strange comment, or even just a bad vibe, most of us have encountered someone who fits the category of "creepy."

It's a word that's used often, but what does it even mean?

Psychologists from Knox College, Illinois, set out to find a definition of what it is that gives us the chills in a new study entitled, "On the Nature of Creepiness".

As part of their research, scientists Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke asked 1341 people between the ages of 18 and 77 to rate behaviours, jobs and hobbies considered to be "creepy", The Sun reports.


Using research data, the psychologists compiled lists of the most common things people find weird, and it includes everything from bulging eyes to bad hair.

"Creepy" personality traits include:

• Standing too close to someone
• Laughing at odd times
• Smiling peculiarly
• Having bulging eyes
• Licking lips frequently
• Having long fingers
• Talking too much about a topic, especially sex
• Having greasy hair
• Having bags under eyes
• Wearing odd clothes
• Displaying unwanted sexual interest; asking to take a picture of you

"Creepy" hobbies include

• Any kind of watching, such as bird watching or photography
• Collecting things, including dolls, insects and fingernails

Jobs associated with "creepy" people include:

• Sex shop owner
• Funeral director
• Clown
• Taxi driver

The study, published in New Ideas in Psychology stated participants reported that creepy people made them feel uncomfortable because they couldn't tell how the person was going to act or what they're going to do.

The research found males were more likely to be called creepy than females, and women were more likely to associate sexual threat with creepiness.

"Creepiness is all about not being able to figure out whether there is a threat," researcher Francis McAndrew told The Sun.

- nzherald.co.nz