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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Melissa BatesonORCiD, Professor Daniel Nettle, Dr Gilbert Roberts


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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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bateson M, Nettle D, Roberts G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biology Letters

Year: 2006

Volume: 2

Issue: 3

Pages: 412-414

ISSN (print): 1744-9561

ISSN (electronic): 1744-957X

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0509


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