The clown is inherently funny, but why does it scare many people?

This character was originally a character that made everyone laugh, but why did it become scary to many people? Much research has been done to find the answer to this question…

In 2003, a study by the University of Sheffield (UK) showed that very few children liked clowns . At that time, the research team surveyed 250 children aged 4-16, all of whom said they hated the pictures of clowns decorated in children’s hospitals, most of them were scared when they saw this character drawing at night. .

According to Popular Science , since ancient Egypt, the clown character who specializes in entertaining the nobility has been present. In the 16th century, the word “clown” first appeared in the English lexicon when Shakespeare used to describe a silly and naive character in his plays.

Around the middle of the 19th century, clowns began to appear in circuses with colorful painted faces, distinctive gi hair and oversized clothes. So far that image has only changed slightly.

Why is it also a clown character, nearly 150 years ago as a symbol of humor, now it scares so many people?

The clown is inherently funny, but why does it scare many people?
Image of clowns in the 19th century – (Image: PINTEREST)

In his research, Mr. Frank T.McAndrew – a famous American social psychologist and professor at Knox College, conducted a 2-part survey on 1,341 people aged 18-77.

First, volunteers were asked to build a fearsome role model by choosing 44 criteria that the research team came up with. As a result, the characteristics of a scary person identified by most of the participants included: being male, having strange eye movements, and unpredictable actions. Some other criteria that are also selected are big eyes, mysterious smile and too long fingers…

Based on the selected criteria, volunteers were asked to point out who – which occupation in life scared them and gave them a specific scale. As a result, the clown topped the list.

The clown is inherently funny, but why does it scare many people?
The usual funny images of clowns more than a hundred years ago have now partly changed – (Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK).

Dr. Rami Nader – a psychologist in British Columbia (Canada), has spent a lot of time studying the somewhat irrational fear of many people towards clowns. He argues that the biggest reason people are obsessed with clowns is the ambiguity of the character’s image : the somewhat conventional humorous features created more than 150 years ago are now somewhat confusing in the series. The 21 st century.

For example, white cheeks, deep eyes, red nose is still amusing or is a “strange” feature, hard to guess; the face – especially when not smiling, is the overall look of joy and happiness or is it mysterious and somewhat creepy?

Professor McAndrew further explains: in communication, if the other party creates a feeling of suspicion with their mysterious features, our natural reaction is to be on guard, fear is inevitable.

According to Professor McAndrew, the fear of the mystery of the clown image is even greater because many real-life experiences have overwhelmed the inherently conventional humor of the character.

Typically in the 1970s, serial killer John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) often dressed up as a clown to many children’s birthdays and then killed more than 33 people, most of them boys.

Wayne Gacy is often called “Killer Clown because in addition to disguised as a clown, Gacy often leaves confusing paintings of this character.

From here, people begin to look at the image of a clown from a different angle: it’s the same makeup, that face, but now it’s a bit creepy .

The clown is inherently funny, but why does it scare many people?
One of many clown drawings left by killer John Wayne Gacy. The same picture, viewed from two angles, will see both shades of clowns: happy or creepy – (Photo: The Orchid Club)

The obsession is even bigger when there are consecutive robberies and murders where the perpetrator dresses like a clown, especially in the United States. That’s not to mention the movie has partly influenced the change in the way this character is viewed.

In fact, the clown is also one of the best examples of how people’s assessment of the same thing changes over time. The same character, even the same picture of the clown, some people find funny, some find it scary; Some people used to be happy, now they feel terrible.

According to Dr. Naider, this is an inevitable change in the general movement of social development. Because after more than a century, people’s perception is greatly influenced by many different factors, including art.