A new study looks into why most of us are scared of clowns

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Chances are you suffer from some form of Coulrophobia, which is a fear of clowns.

The hatred for them runs across all ages around the world.

A recent study from Scientific America dove into how many of us hate the characters and why we feel uneasy about them.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they were somewhat scared of them, while five percent were terrified.


So what about them makes us feel uneasy? The study released eight very understandable reasons.

  1. An eerie or unsettling feeling due to clowns’ makeup makes them look not-quite-human. A similar response is sometimes seen with dolls or mannequins.
  2. Their exaggerated facial features convey a direct sense of threat.
  3. Clown makeup hides emotional signals and creates uncertainty.
  4. The colour of clown makeup reminds us of death, infection or blood injury and evokes disgust or avoidance.
  5. Clowns’ unpredictable behaviour makes us uncomfortable.
  6. Fear of clowns has been learned from family members.
  7. Negative portrayals of clowns in popular culture. ( ahem, Pennywise)
  8. A frightening experience with a clown.


The study explains that the final reason was the least common reason people had to be afraid, while number 7 was very likely.

I know the original IT movies is what turned me against clowns, just like Chucky turned me against most of my dolls.

At the same time, many friendly-looking clowns aren’t well-loved either. For example, the McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald is friendly but people still don’t like him.


The study says that the main reason people hate them is the inability to see their facial expressions.

“We cannot see their “true” faces and therefore cannot understand their emotional intent. So, for example, we don’t know whether they have a frown or a furrowed brow, which would indicate anger. Not being able to detect what a clown is thinking or what they might do next makes some of us on edge when we are around them.” the study says.

feature image by Couleur from Pixabay