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The image of eyes : psychological mechanisms and effects on littering in a real-world setting

Zengerink, L.G.J. (2013) The image of eyes : psychological mechanisms and effects on littering in a real-world setting.

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Abstract:Different studies, both inside and outside the lab, demonstrated positive effects of eye images on behavior. We conducted two studies to better understand this effect on human behavior in a real-world context, and examined whether the perception of the role of the watching eyes is of importance too. A 3 (eyes) x 2 (markings) design, comparing wide open eyes, neutral eyes and a control condition with flowers, combined with a suggestion of authority (manipulated by police markings or neutral control markings) was used in both studies. First, we tried to get more insight in the psychological mechanisms behind the eye effect, by administering a questionnaire (study 1). Second, we examined whether littering behavior on a university campus would reduce in the presence of an image of eyes (study 2). Our results suggest that images of eyes can reduce littering behavior. However, attention should be paid to the characteristics of the eyes, as its behavioral effects can turn out very differently. Gender of the subject may be of importance too, especially when adding a suggestion of authority to the eyes. Reputational concerns and fear of punishment might not be the underlying psychological mechanisms behind the eye-effect, or the results are at least hard to interpret. These findings have positive implication for the application of eye images in reducing littering behavior, but further research is needed.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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