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I remember reading this a while back. To be clear, I'm not talking about a phobia such as Automatonophobia (Fear of inanimate objects that resemble humans, such as dolls) or Pediophobia (Fear of dolls).

Instead, what I read about seems to be something we are all programmed to feel. What I read was that people naturally fear things that look human, but at the same time, are not quite human. A good example I once read about is a game called LSD. Now if you guys Google this and take a look at the screenshots, the game doesn't look scary at all does it? How could it when it has such out dated and hilarious graphics. If you tried to play the game however, you'll soon find yourself becoming jumpy at every little thing in the game which sooner or later, you will start to see as really creepy.

I read that this seems to be a reason why some people find old horror games with old graphics much more frightening than newer games where character models look much more realistic and humanoid. This might also be unrelated, however looking at the horror genre overall, aren't we mainly scared of things that look human? Jason and Freddy are pretty deformed, however in essence human's in shape. Vampires look exactly like humans, but with paler skin and fangs. Zombies look just like humans, albeit with rotting flesh. etc

Is there a scientific name and reasoning behind all this? I mean if you think about it, the further you create something away from a humans shape, the less frightening it becomes (a blob monster for example). Slap on a pair of red eyes on a human however or fangs, and he instantly becomes pretty scary.

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Side note: With this being my first time using this site, I would appreciate it if someone could recommend some tags for this question. I tried my best finding the most relevant ones, but feel free to show me better ones I may have missed. – JimmyK Jan 10 '14 at 9:24
If you think non-humanoid entities aren't scary, you clearly haven't seen John Carpenter's The Thing. – Wad Cheber Aug 31 '15 at 5:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Might be Uncanny Valley

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers. Examples can be found in the fields of robotics,1 3D computer animation,[2][3] and in medical fields such as burn reconstruction, infectious diseases, neurological conditions, and plastic surgery.[4] The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as subjects move toward a healthy, natural human likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability.

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thanks i learned something from this +1 – user3832 Jan 11 '14 at 18:05
Awesome, this looks like what I was looking for, thanks! – JimmyK Jan 13 '14 at 13:36

I think the word you're looking for is Xenophobia with ingroups being humanity and outgroups being humanoid non-humans.

Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".


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Interesting. Not exactly what I was looking for but +1 since this looks quite interesting. – JimmyK Jan 13 '14 at 13:36

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