Why Are Clowns So Scary?

I am sure you have heard the recent chaos around clown sightings around the United States. Teens all around the country have been posting videos either in their cars or walking through the woods, to find a random clown that inevitably starts to chase them. Whether these videos are actually real or staged to get retweets is up to the person. But some of these clowns have turned violent. Mississippi has even banned clown costumes until the end of halloween because the recent scare. Children in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and New Jersey are being stabbed by these clowns. Schools have been closed due to some clown threats. And one boy 16 year old boy was murdered by a man in a clown costume. These clown stories kept getting more and more traction giving more attention to these scary clown threats. But why clowns? What makes someone with a painted smile so scary?


Growing up, I remember clowns at birthday parties, blowing balloons for the kids, making jokes, and just having a good time with everyone. But what has happened since then? When we were younger we saw clowns with painted smiles and inviting faces. Even one of the most famous chain restaurants, McDonald’s uses a clown as their face. A happy Ronald McDonald can often be found in their restaurants and their commercials. But Hollywood has changed the images of clowns from friendly jokesters into menacing killers.  In the United States, around 12% of adults have Coulrophobia, a fear of clowns. Cases of Coulrophobia increased from the move ‘IT’ a movie about a murderous clown. People fear clowns because their face is covered so they cover their true identity making it easy for them to do whatever that want. Their emotion also stays the same, which is scary to people. People fear what they do not know, and the fact that clowns have either painted faces or masks concealing their identity scares people. Cases also increased of this fear from the Joker in Batman. The Joker represents a crazy, murderous clown that plays the antagonist in the Batman movies. Halloween also gives arises to people’s fear of clowns. Scary clowns are a seen all throughout halloween stores, and around haunted houses

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But this past September, scary clowns have been taken to a new level. Clowns try to lure kids and passing by teens into the woods. There have been videos of clowns at the side of the road chasing passing cars. The internet blew up with videos of clowns in the woods and at the side of the road. Even here, at Penn State, we know all too well about the clown sightings. When a clown was reportedly seen and a mob of 500 students started chasing a creepy clown that was supposedly seen according to social media. Students running all through campus tried to find the clown and take it down. The cops had to try and keep control of the students. Police officials say there was no actual clown.


Most of these clowns roaming the streets are meant as a joke but the small amount of clowns that pose a threat have people all over the place afraid to see a clown. Due to the wide number of people who suffer from fear of clowns it didn’t take much for these creepy clown sighting to blow up and tract so much heat. Hopefully as Halloween nears its end, so will these clown sightings.



sources: coulrophobia, ny post, nbc, fox

7 thoughts on “Why Are Clowns So Scary?

  1. Liz Galante

    Clowns were never something I found to be the most pleasing things in this world, however, they were also never something I completely feared until the whole incident that occurred at Penn State a few weeks ago. It is fascinating like you said how clowns now have a complete turnaround from what they used to be known as- something funny and smiley to now scaring people and causing schools to be put on lock down. Last year in my psychology class I had to do an entire project on a murderer and although scary this criminal is interesting to read about being that he secretly dressed up as clowns to hide his identity- John Wayne Gacy.

  2. gcm5149

    This is a very relevant topic due to recent events. On the east coast, mainly, there have been scary clowns going around trying to intimidate people. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. A teenage boy was actually killed in Reading, PA. The guy ran up on some man and the man stabbed the 16 year old to death. This is a serious issue and getting worse.

    Here’s the full story: http://www.rxlist.com/adderall-side-effects-drug-center.htm

  3. Alexander Mark Schaefer

    i find your post interesting, because clowns are my least favorite thing. Especially right now. But what i’m not getting from your post is the cause of the fear of clowns? Right now, besides from the clown attacks, clowns are widely used at events such as birthday parties and fairs in order to bring joy, not fear. Is there a stereotype that automatically off puts off clowns?

  4. Naseem Memari

    Looking through the course blog I had to stop and read what your findings were because, well, I am in the same boat as others! I was at the clown hunt on campus that recently occurred, and it made me wonder 1) why it was happening and 2) why people are actually afraid of clowns. Clowns have been something I have always been scared of ever since I was little (I have a baby picture of me crying with Ronald McDonald to prove it). As I got older, I learned that they were seen to be funny characters for kids, but I never believed there was anything appealing about them. I wonder though the assets of clowns that make them so terrifying. I found this article on the psychology on clowns.

  5. Taylor Rodrigues

    Really loved your article and it is the perfect time to discuss this since the “PSU clown scare and clown run,” as well as Halloween coming up soon! I am definitely one of those that has “Coulrophobia.” In this article online by Tech Times, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/18025/20141016/why-are-clowns-so-freaking-scary.htm
    They stated how the fear of clowns relates to the history even back to the 1800’s. They gave different examples of what happened in France, a mime (clown) had killed a child and that image of the “killer clown,” stayed within people’s minds after that!

  6. William Joseph Robbins-cole

    I have always found clowns mildly off putting, but until I read your blog I had never thought about it. I decided to expand on the research that you had already done and apparently in the middle ages clowns were not jokesters as they are now (kinda), but they represented danger and fear, which I find very fitting with the bout of clown attacks we are facing now.

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