Why Are Things Creepy?

Hey, Vsauce.
Michael here. Fear gives us life.
Being afraid of the right things kept our ancestors alive. It makes sense to be afraid
of poisonous insects or hungry tigers, but what about fear when there is no clear and
obvious danger? For instance, a Teddy Bear with a full set of human teeth…or a smile.jpg. There’s something a little off about these images. Too much mystery, and strange-ness,
but no obvious threat, the way there is with a gun or falling rock. But, yet, they still
insight fear, because they are creepy. But why? What gives us the creeps?
What causes something to be creepy? We are now in my bedroom, the bedroom I grew
up in, in Kansas. Like a lot of children my age, I was terrified of “Scary Stories to
Tell in the Dark.” But the very first book that ever scared me was “The Curse of the
Squirrel.” To this day, I still haven’t finished the book…but that’s just me. Psychologist James Geer developed the “Fear
Survey Schedule II,” which he used to find out what scared us the most. Combined with
the results of a more recent Gallup poll, these are the things that scare most of us,
the most. All of these things are scary, but are they creepy? Let’s get more specific. I love the way Stephen King delineates three
types of scary stuff. The first is the “gross-out”. This is something disgusting, morbid, diseased.
The second is “horror”. Horror, to King, is the unnatural: a giant spider, or being grabbed
in the dark when you thought you were alone. The third, “terror,” is different, creepier.
He says terror is coming home to find that everything that you own has been replaced with
an exact copy. Terror is feeling something behind you. It’s breath on your neck. Knowing
that you will be grabbed, but then turning around to find that there was never anything
there in the first place. Not a lot of research has been done on that feeling, the creeps.
But many theories and ideas involve vagueness, ambiguity.
For instance, masks, and why clowns are creepy. Claude Levi-Strauss wrote that the facial
disguise temporarily eliminates from social intercourse the part of the body, which reveals
personal feelings and attitudes. Part of the reason even a neutral or happy mask can be
creepy may have to do with ambiguity. A mask hides the true emotions and intentions of
the person underneath. I don’t know if the person wearing that mask is a threat or not. Vagueness is creepy when it comes to the human
form. This is the famous Uncanny Valley. On a chart of humanness, there’s a zone where
something can be almost entirely human, but off by just a little. Not so wrong that it’s
clearly fake or funny, or so good that it’s indistinguishable. Instead, it’s just troubling. The creepiness of the Uncanny Valley is wonderfully
demonstrated by John Bergeron’s Singing Androids. Watch these videos when you’re alone. A similar, uneasy feeling comes from ShayeSaintJohn,
a character created by Eric Fournier. Funny to some, nightmare fuel to others. Uncanny humanoids, like all creepy things,
straddle a line between two regions that we can understand and explain with language.
Francis T. McAndrew and Sara Koehnke describe being “creeped out” as an adaptive human response
to the ambiguity of threats from others. Creepy things are kind of a threat maybe,
but they’re also kind of not. So, our brains don’t know what to do. Some parts respond
with fear, while other parts don’t, and they don’t know why. So, instead of achieving a
typical fear response, horror, we simply feel uneasy, terror, creeped out. Between the mountains
of safety and danger, there is a valley of creepiness, where the limits of our knowledge
and trust and security aren’t very clear. Will looking at this cause you to die one
week later? Impossible, right? Maybe that’s the terror of ambiguity. We don’t do well with ambiguity. When it involves
our own intentions, it can make us lie. And when it involves danger, but no recognizable
threat, it can make us think and feel some pretty weird things. Have you ever peered
over a ledge, a railing, way high up, like, so high up it made you nervous and dizzy
and felt something pushing you? Maybe even an urge to jump? Have you ever stood on the
ledge with a loved one and realize that you could push them? It would be that easy.
You really could do it, and maybe you do want to do it, or maybe it’s just cognitive dissonance.
The fact that your brain is having to deal with ambiguity. A recent study by Jennifer Hames at Florida
State University dubbed this the High Place Phenomenon. When approaching a ledge and a
dangerous drop, your survival instinct kicks in and you pull yourself away. But, your balance
and motor systems don’t get it. Nothing is pushing you and you don’t normally fall or
leap randomly. So, what’s going on? The part of your brain that processes intention might
resolve this by determining that something must be pushing you. Or, that you might actually
want to jump or push your friend, even if none of that is true. Now, we’re not done with ambiguity yet because
our language reflects the gray area of terror and creepiness. Take a look at the word “terror”
itself. We have “horrible” and “horrific.” “Terrible” and “terrific.” Why is that?
Well, through history, we never really figured out what to call powerful experiences, because
they’re both. They are full of awe…awesome. And, they are full of aw…awful. We need
them to survive. We need fears and the creeps, to understand our size, our weaknesses.
But, on the other hand, avoiding them is pretty great too…The creeps is a physical reminder
that the world is vague and full of ambiguity, but that we are cunning, always trying to
figure things out but, nonetheless, fragile. Is that terrible or terrific? Well, it’s both.
Which, as a creepy ghost would say, is kind of boo-tiful. And as always, thanks for watching.

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100 Responses

  1. Nathan Jackson says:

    Vsauce in one word "Why?''

  2. Dank Meme says:

    When you play rock paper scissor shoot I’m the mirror and you win

  3. lilahdog 568 says:

    0:01 "hi, vsauce. Michael here. I wanna play a game"

  4. Spectral Onion says:

    0:20 insect…..

  5. Our Pranks says:

    Bro I almost jumped from a bridge so yeah this video made a lot of sense

  6. Ryan Vang says:

    That jpg creepy because of the music

  7. Death-Knight Jan says:

    Hey Michael, we can see you twice at the third second😂

  8. Harry May says:

    Well see you guys in a week

  9. Reaper Gaming says:

    Everybody gangsta till Disc 11 are playing.

  10. Judah says:

    There is no better feeling that having someone playing with your hair or running their fingers down your back, unless you are alone

  11. Luka Bjørnestad says:

    I shouldn't have watched this at night

  12. YeetusDeletus says:

    I thought the thumb nail was hilarious

  13. Mrbasket77 says:

    Anybody else notice the person in the background at the very beginning?

  14. ec R says:


  15. you read this in your mind ,right? says:

    If you feared of being alone in the dark,it's actually you fearing of NOT being alone in the dark

  16. Mlaguex 1023 says:

    I freaked the fuck out at 5:30 my face literally was numb

  17. Super kawaii Anime duck says:

    5:25 no but it’ll traumatised me for 3 solid weeks I know that

  18. Street Sadness says:

    Nobody gonna talk about that guy behind Michael 0:00

  19. Lilybelle Boyden says:

    Cursed images explained

  20. Lilybelle Boyden says:


    when Karen says something homophobic but you haven’t come out yet

  21. el med jojo says:

    creepy is being [REDACTED] by a SCP

  22. You ate the lasagna Jon says:

    0:19 "poisonous insects"

    B- but spiders are arachnids

  23. Samruddhi Landge says:


    Me: jumps out of chair and drops phone

  24. [FIRE] WOOMY says:

    What the cinnamon toast fuck is that tumbnail

  25. Kelcey Clark says:

    Suffocation, Failing a test, Injury of a loved one, Death of a loved one, Your own death, Being self conscious, Not being a success, Looking foolish, Terrorist attacks, Making mistakes, and Being alone are the ones on that list that account for me. At #1 is three different ones, Injury of a loved one, Death of a loved one, and Being alone.

  26. Yo Itz Eevee says:

    I'm in a van, driving through a dark forest at night while watching this.

  27. Dom James says:

    I'll come back next week and if I don't comment on this I'm dead

  28. Hive Shaman says:

    Why did u look at smile.jpg at 3am

  29. DE-BR-US says:

    When I saw the face at the end my heart SANK, god damn

  30. Adolf Hitler says:

    all the other bits are all jumpscares, start from 0:42 to start safely without any jumpscares.

  31. Georsensen Spt says:

    Also me:*sees thumbnail*ooOoOOoOOoOOOOooooooooh that's weird

  32. s t e l l a . l o u i s e says:

    2:25 what the fuck is that

  33. Low quality MHA time says:

    0:46 I would imagine that dog saying "Bark bark bitch"

  34. Low quality MHA time says:

    1:50 try to guess witch fear I have

  35. Thehudats _ says:

    That end face was actually kinda funny if you have a different perspective.

  36. Dude on Dope says:

    I used to shit my pants at the singing android

  37. Dandaman XD says:

    I don't no about you people but when I wear something "creepy" I don't fill anything creepy anymore.

  38. Luigi836 says:

    Am I the only one who is only going to do good things after 5:28 e.e

  39. Fernando Mendoza says:

    When I was 8 I could never finish this video cause I was scared

  40. Ibrahim playz says:


  41. Ibrahim playz says:


  42. mesmia says:


  43. Lendo Lee Cabrio says:

    why is there a second michael in the background at 0:00 – 0:03?

  44. Shade Pizza says:

    This eventually became cursed images which became so overexposed it's no longer creepy

  45. alex i guess says:

    3:01 sksksks

  46. EnoMaster says:

    It’s hard to watch this without looking away. I challenge you too

  47. Ecays _ says:

    Boys listen to music disk 11 ,men look at smile png

  48. Kristyan de Souza says:

    Coudn't make It to the end

  49. Mr. Lins says:

    me at min 2.24
    "i'm out"

    also also the computer stopped working for 5 sec with that face in wide screen

    also also also i've seen this video only now

  50. Yords theoneandonly says:

    me watching this while on the toilet:(opens shower curtains)

  51. Ramy Tlili says:

    Clown : Am i a joke to you

  52. Noiyanmations says:

    Hello Vsauce, I have a question. So I looked in my discord chat and i saw this thing where apparently there was this girl named clarrisa who killed her parents and uhh the goverment killed her. Question : Can the goverment legally kill people?

  53. Golden_Gamer _Playz says:

    Whenever I see that smile dog thing I’m petrified

  54. XREDDOT says:

    You guys do know that the comments you posted now are comments that people posted when this video just came out.


  55. priya jeyan says:

    Who seen someone in the background at 0.02

  56. annoyingeos101 says:

    everybody gangsta til' he plays "I Feel Fantastic"

  57. Austin Starke says:

    5:11 me

  58. NashiGotU UwU says:

    4:30 thats not creepe thats wirde

  59. Ebola City says:

    Heebie Jeebies

  60. Yves Kägi says:

    I just wanted to see what people meant by „ the face at the end“ and looking very closely on the screen and just when it appeared my phone went on full screen despite me holding my phone up 0.0

  61. Sadie Felger says:

    Oh my god I remember watching this when I was 10, I couldn't go to sleep for like a week

  62. Abigail Aldridge says:

    2:58 look at the right lower corner and then at 3:24 look again and the at 5:33 look again

    ight imma head out

  63. Doctorinthezone says:

    5:10 that rabbit got… things, on his mind. >:|

  64. Magnus says:

    I’ve watched this like 7 times since I was 15
    Now I’m 18

  65. scp 173 says:

    hey sause shape as a V

  66. scp 173 says:

    sodium chloride is water

  67. Briti Bhattacharyya says:

    Of course I had to find this at 3 a.m. -.-

  68. LitoMike M1 says:

    When you were talking about terror, I felt terror.

  69. Yung Frosty says:

    I was laying in bed then when 5:26 came up I dropped my phone and got disturbed

  70. CringiFurryJG says:

    I see the man behind you sir

  71. King P.I.G says:

    0:02 I hope that I'm not the only one that saw that thing in the back

  72. Just a Commie says:

    I’ve seen enough cursed images to not be scared of most things.

  73. Draxan06 says:

    The Teddy bear looks like he's having a good time.

  74. Torch Striker says:

    Ever closed your eyes in the shower?

  75. Jamodo says:


  76. Jamodo says:

    Iam watching this at night…

  77. Noah perry says:

    That eye tho

  78. Starmations says:

    crap it's 2:00 am…

  79. Queen Ditty says:

    What creeps me out is the predatorially lustful look in some men's eyes when they're sexually attracted to you. You can see them thinking about sex& that's most likely all they want. I never entertain those looks it makes me shiver out of my skin.

  80. Floyd McBride says:

    This is scary

  81. Joey Moratto says:


  82. LordCaesarI says:

    Even the music at the beginning gives me the creeps.

  83. Blue Skies Gacha says:

    Can someone make a version where there are no scary images? I'm just looking at the comments because I'm a scaredy-cat ;-;

  84. Jayden Garcia says:

    Vsauce: *says that looking at a specific image will kill you a week later*

    Also Vsauce: *shows us the image anyways*

    Me: “… you’ve just sold the souls of so many innocent people Michael…”

  85. assassin x says:

    Have you ever been on the edge of a cliff with someone ? And had the starting urge to push them it would be that easy .

  86. AkitaMrofni Official says:


  87. That guy you see scrolling down the comments says:

    Me: meh, that teddy is odd i guess

    smile.jpg: imma stop you right there

  88. MagicatForest 12579 says:

    When I look over a ledge or one of my family members or a cat looks over the edge: SCREAMING INTENSIFIES

  89. Gamespective says:

    There are masks that aren't creepy and those who are. Depends how weird they look

  90. WR373 says:

    Everybody gangsta till Vsauce pulls out the " I feel fantastic" video.

  91. 75,000 subscribers without videos challenge says:

    wow this guy really looks like papa franku …ironic how can they look the same but still so different

  92. WRB LimeyLuna says:

    This video scared me so hard

  93. Anthonygamer 9512 says:

    1:20 “Where’s my toe”

  94. I hate People says:

    Yeah I get butterflies in my stomach in front of high places

  95. not a weeb says:

    hey did anyone else see Michael put in glasses in the background and just freeze at the very beginning?

  96. osopolar_ 2006 says:

    Um Michael… there is something behind you 0:00

  97. Neos on iPhone says:

    2:26 scared the shit out of me ngl.

  98. mwpr 2076 says:

    0:00 how saw that

  99. thanos says:

    y'all catch that at the start

  100. Cadee Haugsness says:

    Go KS

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