Your (Facebook) Friends Are Watching

Recently at frog’s Seattle studio we put to test the well-studied phenomenon of images with eyes encouraging prosocial behavior. Our office admins report a 90% reduction in dirty dishes left carelessly in or around the sink after placing a sign with faces exhorting us to behave like responsible adults. Previous text-only signs had led to no detectable improvement.

Do It For America

It was long ago showed that even subtle exposure to very stylized images of eyes strongly increases prosocial behavior. Melissa Bateson, a zoologist interested in how starlings react to images eyes, recently established the effect works with humans even without an accompanying message. Adding credence to the conclusion that a sense of being “watched” is behind all this, it’s been discovered that even atheists can be similarly primed by invoking god.

But who needs god, the POTUS, or even Bieber? Certainly our buying behavior is also an indicator for feeling “watched” when we avoid making certain purchases in public. University of Miami research has recently shown that our in-public behavior mode can be triggered not by anything as direct as pictures of our Facebook friends, but simply by the logos of social sites.


I’d love to know if the incidence rate of trolling is reduced in commenting systems that display a Facebook login, even if they don’t require its use.

I posted this in April 2012 during week 1990.

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