From “Big Brother eyes ‘boost honesty’” (BBC News: 28 June 2006):
The feeling of being watched makes people act more honestly, even if the eyes are not real, a study suggests.
A Newcastle University team monitored how much money people put in a canteen “honesty box” when buying a drink.
They found people put nearly three times as much in when a poster of a pair of eyes was put above the box than when the poster showed flowers.
The brain responds to images of eyes and faces and the poster may have given the feeling of being watched, they say. …
Dr Melissa Bateson, a behavioural biologist from Newcastle University and the lead author of the study, said: “We found that people paid 2.76 times as much money when we put a notice on the wall that featured a pair of eyes as opposed to when the image was of some flowers.”