Being watched over by a photograph of staring eyes makes people twice as likely to behave themselves, according to researchers.
The posters were put up in cafes... and people did what the poster said
Newcastle University psychology student Max Ernest-Jones put up two different posters in a cafe telling diners to clear away their dirty plates.
On one day the poster had a photograph of eyes on it, the next day it showed a picture of flowers.
When Max counted up how many people did what they were told, he found the figure doubled when the eyes were watching over them.
His findings have been written up by his tutor, Dr Melissa Bateson, of the university’s centre for behaviour and evolution, and published online by the American journal Evolution And Human Behavior.
Would you do what the eyes told you?
"The presence of eye images can encourage co-operative behaviour," said Dr Bateson.
“We care what other people think about us, and hence we behave better when we feel we are being observed."
She added: "This study has implications for the fight against anti-social behaviour.
"For example, if signs for CCTV cameras used pictures of eyes instead of cameras they could be more effective."
The research showed that the picture of eyes had the greatest effect when the canteen was almost empty.
"This makes total sense," said Dr Bateson.
"We would expect real people to have the greatest effect on the feeling of being watched and hence swamp the effect of the posters during busy times."