Why Are We Scared of Clowns? Science Now Has an Answer

Why Are We Scared of Clowns? Science Now Has an Answer

Some people are afraid of clowns, and not necessarily because of the famous Joker character from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight movie that came out in 2008. It’s in a way similar to the fear of the dark or the fear of spiders or cockroaches – it’s not entirely clear why people have such fears.

But science is always looking for answers, and it can now explain the mystery behind coulrophobia, which means the fear of clowns. A new study that The Conversation speaks about sheds some light. 

Many people are afraid of clowns

Coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns, is a recognized phenomenon that affects both adults and children in many cultures. To better understand the psychology behind this fear, a team of researchers created a psychometric questionnaire and had an international sample of 987 people between the ages of 18 and 77 complete it.

More than half of the respondents (53.5%) said they were scared of clowns to some degree, with 5% stating they were “extremely afraid.” Interestingly, women were found to be more afraid of clowns than men, and the fear decreased with age.

The study also looked into the possible explanations for the origins of coulrophobia, with negative portrayals of clowns in popular culture and the inability to detect their facial expressions due to makeup being the most significant contributing factors. This research offers new insights into the fear of clowns, and further investigations will explore the makeup’s particular effects and other related factors.

An interesting fact about clowns is that the use of exaggerated makeup and costumes actually has roots in ancient cultures. In ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, and Egypt, performers wore masks and costumes to portray various characters in theatrical performances, including comedic roles. This tradition continued in medieval times with traveling performers, known as jesters, who wore brightly colored outfits and exaggerated makeup to entertain crowds.

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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