Lookup NU author(s): Moe Fathi,
Professor Melissa Bateson,
Professor Daniel Nettle
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
A series of experimental studies by multiple groups of researchers have found that displaying images of watching eyes causes people to behave more prosocially. It is not yet clear whether watching eyes increase prosocial motivation per se, or whether they simply make people's behavior more normative. Here, we report results from a surreptitious behavioral experiment examining the impacts of watching eye images and cues to local norms on charitable donations in a controlled setting. Eye images significantly increased average donations. Eye images did not make people conform more closely to the apparent norm overall. Instead, there were different patterns according to the apparent norm. For an apparent norm of small donations, eye images made many participants more generous than the norm. For an apparent norm of large donations, there was an excess of participants giving zero in the no-eyes treatment, which was abolished in the eyes treatment. Our results can be explained by a combination of watching eyes increasing prosocial motivation and reluctance to leave a donation visibly less generous than the norm.
Author(s): Fathi M, Bateson M, Nettle D
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Evolutionary Psychology
Print publication date: 01/12/2014
Acceptance date: 23/07/2014
Date deposited: 26/08/2015
ISSN (electronic): 1474-7049
Publisher: Evolutionary Psychology
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