Fascinating new research on human psychology could have a wide-reaching effect on the security surveillance industry.
Researchers at Newcastle University found that people are less likely to engage in anti-social behavior when images of staring human faces are "watching."
The researchers alternated hanging posters of eyes and posters of flowers on the walls of a cafe, then tracked the number of people who cleaned up their plates and trash after finishing their meals. When the posters of faces and eyes were on the walls, twice as many people cleaned up after themselves. When the posters of flowers were present, many more people left litter on the tables.
Previously, the same researchers had studied whether images of eyes had an impact on people's contributions to an honesty box in a tea room. When the images of eyes were present, people paid nearly three times as much money as they did when the flower posters hung on the walls.
The researchers concluded that the images of eyes made people feel like they were being watched. And, since most people care about what others think, they behave better when they feel like they're being observed.
How might this impact surveillance? One researcher explained: "This study has implications for the fight against anti-social behavior. For example, if signs for CCTV cameras used pictures of eyes instead of cameras, they could be more effective.”
Maybe in a few years we'll start seeing posters of eyes in airports, federal buildings and transportation centers. Then we'll all really feel like Big Brother is watching us!