Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting

Melissa Bateson, Daniel Nettle, Gilbert Roberts


We examined the effect of an image of a pair of eyes on contributions to an honesty box used to collect money for drinks in a university coffee room. People paid nearly three times as much for their drinks when eyes were displayed rather than a control image. This finding provides the first evidence from a naturalistic setting of the importance of cues of being watched, and hence reputational concerns, on human cooperative behaviour.



    • Received April 14, 2006.
    • Accepted June 2, 2006.
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