50 Times People Found The Scariest Signs And Shared Them Online
Nobody puts up safety signs without reason. Slippery when wet. Sharp turn ahead. High voltage. Keep out. These bits of information are aimed to help you move around places and inform you where you're going. They let you know what you can do and, more often, what's off-limits. Whether by warning or guiding you, they are intended to send clear messages that would make any perplexed citizen feel instantly at ease. Usually.
Because sometimes, the warning turns out to be scarier than the danger itself. Of course, it's better to be safe than sorry, but some signs involve such specific and life-threatening messages that they instill fear, suspicion, and overwhelming worry in anyone who crosses their path. We're talking about oddly terrifying messages that remind us our vast world is filled with unpredictable hazards from which we'd like to stay as far away as possible.
Below, we at Bored Panda have compiled a list featuring some of the most intimidating and scary signs found around the world. So buckle up, pull your seat closer, and behold these sinister signs that are bound to make you a little unsettled. Scroll down and upvote the best ones! And after you’re done, more of the same madness awaits in our previous features on the same topic here and here.
It’s no secret that signs are everywhere we look. Most of them have a function and purpose, mainly to keep us out of harm’s way. We may not often think about it, but these messages play a crucial part in keeping us safe during our day-to-day lives. They inform us when to stop at an intersection, if there are threats ahead or when it’s safe to cross the road. But unfortunately, we get so used to seeing them that we don’t even bat an eye.
While we would never fear a stop sign or a road sign as we’re bombarded with these bits of information every day, you’d think that threatening announcements of dangers hard to imagine would make us stop and run the other way. Or, at the very least, make us consider what actually happened and what was the reason for their placement.
This Sign Asking People To Wear A Mask. It's On The Wall Outside A Classroom. Saw It On The News This Evening
However, even the most terrifying or daunting signs that warn us of potential hazards and uneasy consequences if we refuse to obey sometimes get overlooked. And there are many reasons we ignore or even disregard these messages, whether we believe that we know better, think they don’t apply to us, or simply wish to add a dash of thrill and adrenaline into our daily lives.
Moreover, we humans have exceptional adaptability to tune out most of the awful and disruptive things happening around us. But that skill is downright useless on the road, as only a few milliseconds can mean the difference between life and death when you need to deal with troubles ahead.
Nice Sign... Wait
According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, drivers react more quickly to road signs with symbols depicting motion. The researchers took a deeper look at whether different sorts of signs — particularly the ones depicting movement — do a better job of forcing drivers to pay attention to the road.
"Warning signs are static visuals, yet they can vary in their ability to evoke a sense of movement. For example, the children depicted in a school crossing sign can be drawn as if they were running or walking. We discovered that more dynamic warning signs lead to quicker responses and changes in behavior," study authors, marketing experts Luca Cian, Aradhna Krishna, and Ryan S. Elder, wrote.
It turns out that to truly make roads feel safe, they must feel dangerous. The researchers came up with five studies that examined how drivers reacted to movement on road signs. They used eye-tracking technology, surveys, and driving simulations and found that "higher dynamism" signs — think a running stick-figure pedestrian — did a better job of attracting driver attention and heightening risk perception.
In each study, the participants reacted more quickly and stopped sooner when signs had more dynamic symbols. This may, in turn, translate to more vigilance and attention from behind the wheel.
"While we have chosen to focus on traffic icons, our findings extend well beyond this domain. Since more dynamic symbols can impact behavior, increasing dynamism in recycling icons, packaging for health foods, and other contexts where behavioral changes are desirable should prove valuable for public policy and consumer welfare," the authors noted.
This Should Not Be Hanging In My Soon-To-Be-Kindergartener’s Classroom
Genuinely The Scariest Sign I've Seen In A While Among A Pretty Spooky Looking Forest
"From evolutionary psychology, we know that humans have developed systems to maximize the chances of detecting potential predators and other dangers. Thus, our attention system has evolved to detect actual movement automatically and quickly," co-author Cian explained to the Atlantic. "Perception of movement within a traffic sign prepares the driver for actual movement."
"We would advocate that more dynamic traffic signs be used in contexts where faster attention and reaction times are needed,” added Krishna.
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But this does beg the question, do signs with threatening auras convey the message? Marc Green, Ph.D., a human factor expert with extensive experience in perception, attention, and human factors, explained that warning signs, in general, often fail to change people's behavior.
"For many years, designers focused their concern on sensory aspects of warnings: color, shape, location, pictures vs. text, size, and so on. However, recent research suggests that effective warning design depends as much on the contents of the viewer's head as on the contents of the warning's message," he explained.
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When people stumble upon alarming messages, they have to decide whether or not to comply. "First, the viewer has general knowledge about the world and how it works. Second, s/he has a set of beliefs and expectations based on experience with the same or similar environment, product or technology."
"Lastly, the viewer enters the situation with a goal and strategy for achieving that goal," Green continued. "The goal can be specific ('I want to arrive at my destination as soon as possible') or more diffuse ('I want to feel good about myself')." So an effective warning sign requires the designer to understand what the observer "brings to the table".
Best Sign Ever
Sign Says... Oh Dammit
In a previous Bored Panda interview, Frank T. McAndrew, Ph.D., the Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology at Knox College, mentioned that cursed and threatening messages we encounter in our daily lives make us take notice, whether we like it or not.
"We are programmed by evolution to intently focus on unexpected or unusual things in our environment. It is essential to determine if such things pose some sort of threat to us or not, and cursed images hijack the part of our brain that is responsible for protecting us," McAndrew noted.
The same goes for unusual things in our environment. "Novelty in our environment (i.e., new or mysterious things) automatically grab our attention," he said. In an evolutionary sense, "people who paid attention to new things did a lot better over time than people who ignored them, and we are the descendants of the people who were curious."
This Warning Sign For Ghosts At An Old Castle In Poland
According to the professor, when we can’t determine if something is good, bad, or neutral, we feel uncomfortable. "Our inability to categorize it will eat at us because we do not know how to deal with it, and this can be paralyzing if it is something that we cannot easily avoid," he explained.
"Being uncomfortable with uncertainty is a very adaptive thing, and it helps us remain vigilant in situations where we need to do so," the professor said. "People differ from each other in how comfortable they are with uncertainty, and someone who is not at all tolerant of uncertainty will be more stressed out than they should be over even moderate levels of uncertainty. I am not sure that there is too much that can be done about this, as it is a personality thing and personalities are very hard to change."