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Francis T. McAndrew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Francis T. McAndrew
BornJanuary 27, 1953
Augsburg, Germany
Alma materUniversity of Maine
Known forEvolutionary psychology
Scientific career
InstitutionsKnox College

Francis T. "Frank" McAndrew (b. January 27, 1953 – Augsburg, Germany) is an American social psychologist and the Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.[1] At Knox, he founded the environmental studies program and chaired the psychology department for a decade. McAndrew is an elected fellow of numerous professional organizations, including the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Midwestern Psychological Association (Charter Fellow). He received a B.S. in psychology from King's College in Pennsylvania and also a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Maine.[1]

Early in his career, McAndrew specialized in the study of environmental psychology and nonverbal communication. He is the author of one of the classic texts in the field, Environmental Psychology.[2] In mid-career, he moved into the study of evolutionary psychology where he became best known for his pioneering work on gossip,[3] creepiness,[4] and the psychology of mass shootings.[5][6]

In recent years, McAndrew has become an essayist and purveyor of psychological science to lay audiences. He has published in dozens of well-known popular media outlets such as Time,[7] CNN,[8] The Guardian,[9] and Scientific American.[10] He is also a blogger for Psychology Today Magazine.[11]

McAndrew grew up in the Northeastern Pennsylvania towns of Scranton and Dallas. He is married and has a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter. He was a wrestler in high school and college, and he coached the Knox College wrestling team for almost 30 years, with twelve years as the head coach.[12]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Why Are Things Creepy?
  • 5 Creepy Cartoon Network Characters | Darkology #20
  • Marc Spiegler: '10 Questions every gallerist should be asking themself now'. Talking Galleries 2015


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.jpeg. 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 recently 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 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 feel 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.


  1. ^ a b Biography of Frank McAndrew at Knox College
  2. ^ McAndrew, Francis T. (1992). Environmental Psychology.
  3. ^ Sollinger, M. (2016). Pssssst, I Hear This Article Is About the Science of Gossip
  4. ^ Holohan, M. (2016). What makes a person creepy?
  5. ^ Fimrite, P. & Lyons, J. (2018). YouTube shooting: Attacker reloaded handgun during shooting, police say
  6. ^ Chan, M. (2019). How Likely Is the Risk of Being Shot in America? It Depends
  7. ^ Why You Shouldn’t Want to Always Be Happy
  8. ^ The evolutionary psychology behind mass shootings
  9. ^ Don't try to be happy. We're programmed to be dissatisfied
  10. ^ Stories by Frank T. McAndrew
  11. ^ Frank T. McAndrew at Psychology Today
  12. ^ Watkins, Sam (23 September 2015). Article in The Knox Student

External links

This page was last edited on 24 April 2023, at 22:07
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