Fake Watchful Eyes Discourage Naughty Behavior

January 15th, 2011 § 1 comment

According to a study at Newcastle University in the UK, a photograph of staring eyes on a sign or poster along with a command can promote behaving, compliance with orders,  and “doing the right thing”.

Psychology researchers at Newcastle University hung two different posters at a restaurant, to see how customers would react. They both featured text asking patrons to bin their rubbish, but one had a picture of flowers on it and the other had a pair of staring eyes.

The number of people who paid attention to the sign, and cleaned up after their meal, doubled when confronted with a pair of gazing peepers. The research team, lead by Dr. Melissa Bateson and Dr. Daniel Nettle of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution found that twice as many customers followed the orders when met with eyes, compared to figures for the flower poster from the day before.

The study is based on the theory of “nudge psychology,” which suggests people behave better if the best option is highlighted, but not forced upon them. Linking that with the eyes grabs peoples’ attention, and makes that nudge even more effective.

Fake Watchful Eyes Discourage Naughty Behavior

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