Researchers at the University of Sheffield found that clowns are universally disliked by children when they began examining how to improve the decor of a local children's hospital.
The study was reported in the Nursing Standard magazine and displayed a poll of 250 children between the ages of four and sixteen.
All 250 children were patients of the hospital's children's ward. The poll concluded that all 250 patients disliked clowns, even the older children.
"As adults we make assumptions about what works for children," said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.
The fear of clowns that the children are experiencing is called Coulrophobia, which is the fear of clowns and mimes. There are many assumptions as to why children fear clowns. The media sometimes portrays clowns as evil with movies such as Poltergeist and Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Of course most children between the ages of four and sixteen have most likely not seen such horror films. However, the television show, Rugrats, portrays Chuckie as being afraid of clowns.
In a more general sense, scary characters in any movie or television show use face masks and exaggerated facial expressions. This shows some similarity to the obscured facial features of clowns.
Most analysts and psychologist believe that children are scared of clowns because of their exaggerated face paintings. Clown acts may also show the clown going through physical pain. Most comedy has it's origins in personal pain and slap-stick comedy in particular emphasizes physical pain.