Stylized and Photographic Eye Images Do Not Increase Charitable Donations in a Field Experiment

Rachel Grant, Tamara Montrose, Paul Lennon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The effects of watching eyes upon prosocial behavior
have been explored in various contexts, for example,
in relation to charitable donations, honor-system
payments and littering. Whilst studies have explored
the effects of both photographic and stylized eyes
upon prosocial behavior, no study, to our knowledge,
has compared stylized eyes to photographic
eyes. Here we explored the effects of stylized and
photographic eye images upon prosocial behavior
assessed via charitable donations in a ‘free cakes’
field experiment. Charitable giving was assessed
under six eye image conditions, three stylized eye
images (evil eye, eye of Horus, all-seeing eye), one
photographic eye image (human eye image) and
two control images (geometric shape control, blank
control). No difference in the amount of money
donated was found between any of the eye image
conditions. These results suggest that watching eyes,
whether stylized or photographic, are not effective
at eliciting prosocial behavior via charitable giving.
However, further study contrasting single and paired
eye imagery, and exploration of the effects of stylized
eye imagery in deterring littering and crime, would be
beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-31
JournalLetters on Evolutionary Behavioural Science
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date8 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2017

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abstract = "The effects of watching eyes upon prosocial behaviorhave been explored in various contexts, for example,in relation to charitable donations, honor-systempayments and littering. Whilst studies have exploredthe effects of both photographic and stylized eyesupon prosocial behavior, no study, to our knowledge,has compared stylized eyes to photographiceyes. Here we explored the effects of stylized andphotographic eye images upon prosocial behaviorassessed via charitable donations in a ‘free cakes’field experiment. Charitable giving was assessedunder six eye image conditions, three stylized eyeimages (evil eye, eye of Horus, all-seeing eye), onephotographic eye image (human eye image) andtwo control images (geometric shape control, blankcontrol). No difference in the amount of moneydonated was found between any of the eye imageconditions. These results suggest that watching eyes,whether stylized or photographic, are not effectiveat eliciting prosocial behavior via charitable giving.However, further study contrasting single and pairedeye imagery, and exploration of the effects of stylizedeye imagery in deterring littering and crime, would bebeneficial.",
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Stylized and Photographic Eye Images Do Not Increase Charitable Donations in a Field Experiment. / Grant, Rachel; Montrose, Tamara ; Lennon, Paul .

In: Letters on Evolutionary Behavioural Science , Vol. 8, No. 2, 08.09.2017, p. 28-31.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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