Want to Make People Act More Generously? Try This Simple Mind Trick

Showing a set of eyes on a sign above a donation box at a busy children’s museum increased visitor contributions by 80 percent, according to new research from the University of Virginia. The finding, published in the October edition of the journal Human Nature, gives more weight to what’s called the “watching eyes effect.” Numerous studies have shown that people act in ways that are more socially beneficial to everyone when they feel they’re being watched. The working theory is that it’s less about selflessness than our own survival instinct: Civilization is collaborative. If you want to succeed in the world, it probably helps to maintain a good reputation.

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