Mustaches and Creepiness: Causation or Correlation?

ABSTRACT‒From time immemorial until the 20th Century, the humble mustache was simply associated with the less fair sex, but in the past century, mustaches have come to be deemed “creepy” due to a (perceived) association with unsavory characters, especially sexual deviants. A study conducted by one ChiBus correspondent sought to determine whether mustaches and creepiness were causally linked or merely correlated. Preliminary results suggest that mustache length greatly amplifies perceived creepiness while having no effect on actual creepiness. The study will conclude on November 30, 2014.


From early in human history, mustaches have served as a high-confidence signal of male gender, which itself has been associated with higher incidence of creepiness. An emerging body of work has been dedicated to the elucidation of questions such as Do mustaches cause creepiness? Does creepiness lead to a mustache? Are they even correlated?


To investigate the matter, the author cultivated a mustache for the duration of November and logged the number of comments referring to said mustache or mustache owner as “creepy” (or the like). The number of such comments was seen as a rough proxy for perceived creepiness. Results can be seen in Exhibit 1. Experimental factors are summarized in Exhibit 2.

    Exhibit 1.      Mustache Length, Newness, Negative Comments

Exhibit 1. Mustache Length, Newness, Negative Comments

    Exhibit 2.  Experimental factors

Exhibit 2. Experimental factors

To approximate Perceived Creepiness, Comments values were divided by the product of an Etiquette Factor (representing the number of comments people make relative to the opinions they have), and a Newness factor (to account for the fact that people gradually stop commenting on things they’ve already commented on). Perceived Creepiness over time is illustrated in Exhibit 3.

    Exhibit 3.  Perceived Creepiness

Exhibit 3. Perceived Creepiness

Actual Creepiness, as measured by levels of creepy thoughts and actions, was observed to be uncorrelated with mustache length (and time) in the test subject. In contrast, Perceived Creepiness was estimated to rise rapidly and forecast to rebound to a level approximately 40,000% of Actual Creepiness.

Preliminary Conclusions

The development of a mustache has not precipitated a rise in Actual Creepiness as the study reaches the halfway mark. This observation lends credence to the alternate hypothesis that Actual Creepiness is driven by factors uncorrelated with Mustache Length. Based on these findings, mustaches appear to amplify the perception of creepiness without affecting actual creepiness, though more research is warranted. However, the findings described here do not preclude the possibility that the same drivers of Actual Creepiness may be indicative of one’s predisposition to mustacheness (irrespective of length). The author recommends further study of the link between Actual Creepiness and the decision to adopt a mustache.