Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


'Big Brother' eyes inspire police crime crackdown campaign

A Newcastle University experiment which found a way of making people act more honestly has provided inspiration for a police campaign.

The experiment, which gained global media attention, found that people put nearly three times as much money into a unsupervised coffee room cash collection box when they were being watched by a pair of eyes on a poster.

Now West Midlands Police are using the idea in an initiative called Operation Momentum, which is aimed at tackling the rise in crime that traditionally occurs in the autumn.

Promotional posters feature a distinctive picture of eyes carrying the message ‘We’ve got our eyes on criminals', which police say was inspired by the experiment by Newcastle University psychology researchers led by Dr Melissa Bateson.

Details of the experiment, published earlier this year in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, gained global publicity when the University press office issued a news release about its findings.

The hundreds of media outlets which covered the story included international TV and radio stations, the Globe and Mail, Canada, Der Spiegel, Germany, the Bangkok Post, Thailand, BBC Radio Four's Today programme, Radio Five Live, UK broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, regional media and many, many others.

Chief Inspector Sue Southern, Head of the Press and PR Department at West Midlands Police, said: "We are always interested in new and innovative ways of trying to reduce crime and promote crime reduction messages.

"We have been inspired by Dr Bateson's research and liked the idea that eyes peering down at thieves in crime hot spots could intimidate them into moving on rather than committing crime.

"This latest research at Newcastle University has quickly been built into our marketing for Operation Momentum and we hope it will give us that extra edge in making our streets safer."

Dr Bateson, of the Evolution and Behaviour Research Group in the School of Biology and Psychology at Newcastle University, worked with Drs Daniel Nettle and Gilbert Roberts for the study.

She said the fact that the study had provided inspiration for the police campaign highlighted the value of pure science projects: “We're thrilled to see our research being used to prevent crime in the real world,” she commented.

“We did the study just because we were interested in understanding human behaviour but it's really exciting that within a month of publication our findings are being applied to crime prevention.”

Dr Bateson and colleagues made use of a long-running 'honesty box' system in a University common room for their experiment.

An honesty box is a system of payment which relies on people's honesty to pay a specified price for goods or services. The group calculated how much people paid for their drinks when a price list featuring a picture of eyes was placed above the honesty box, compared to a list with a picture of flowers.

On average, people paid 2.76 as much for their drinks on the weeks when the price list featured pictures of eyes. The researchers say the eye pictures are probably influential because the brain naturally reacts to the images.

The experiment, which tested social co-operation theories, showed how people behave differently when they believe they are being watched because they are worried what others will think of them.

Claire Jordan | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>