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May 30, 2011

The illusion of being observed can make you a better person

Minority  report 600w

Everyone knows that men using a public restroom are more apt to wash their hands — or at least go through the motions of washing their hands — if they're not alone.

Of course, that doesn't apply to yours truly.

But I digress.

Now come scientists who report that just a picture on the wall of a pair of human eyes is enough to make people act as if an actual person were present.

Who knew that you could cut down on fecal transmission of disease with just a poster?

Not moi, fer shur.

Here are excerpts from Sander van der Linden's May 3, 2011 Scientific American story on this eye-opening development.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” I always found this to be a particularly interesting quote, as it reminds us of the fact that we tend to be on our best behavior when we know that we are being observed. While this may seem obvious, new research points to something far less obvious: it doesn’t take a fellow human being to make us feel “as if the world were watching,” not even another living organism. All it takes is an image of a pair of human eyes.

A group of scientists at Newcastle University, headed by Melissa Bateson and Daniel Nettle of the Center for Behavior and Evolution, conducted a field experiment demonstrating that merely hanging up posters of staring human eyes is enough to significantly change people’s behavior. Over the course of 32 days, the scientists spent many hours recording customer’s “littering behavior” in their university’s main cafeteria, counting the number of people that cleaned up after themselves after they had finished their meals. In their study, the researchers determined the effect of the eyes on individual behavior by controlling for several conditions (e.g. posters with a corresponding verbal text, without any text, male versus female faces, posters of something unrelated like flowers, etc). The posters were hung at eye-level and every day the location of each poster was randomly determined. The researchers found that during periods when the posters of eyes, instead of flowers, overlooked the diners, twice as many people cleaned up after themselves.

Below, the abstract of the Newcastle University study cited above, published in Evolution and Human Behavior.

Effects of eye images on everyday cooperative behavior: a field experiment

Laboratory studies have shown that images of eyes can cause people to behave more cooperatively in some economic games, and in a previous experiment, we found that eye images increased the level of contributions to an honesty box. However, the generality and robustness of the eyes effect is not known. Here, we extended our research on the effects of eye images on cooperative behavior to a novel context—littering behavior in a university cafeteria—and attempted to elucidate the mechanism by which they work, by displaying them both in conjunction with, and not associated with, verbal messages to clear one's litter. We found a halving of the odds of littering in the presence of posters featuring eyes, as compared to posters featuring flowers. This effect was independent of whether the poster exhorted litter clearing or contained an unrelated message, suggesting that the effect of eye images cannot be explained by their drawing attention to verbal instructions. There was some support for the hypothesis that eye images had a larger effect when there were few people in the café than when the café was busy. Our results confirm that the effects of subtle cues of observation on cooperative behavior can be large in certain real-world contexts.

May 30, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hex Wrench Necklace

Screen shot 2011-05-29 at 12.23.32 PM

From the website:


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This highly-polished solid stainless steel pendant may have a hexagonal shape reminiscent of honeycomb or a complex molecular structure, but in the spirit of "form follows function" the hexagons can fit a standard sized bit (not included) and 8, 10, 12 and 14mm bolts so that in a pinch, you've got a functional wrench.


Comes on a hand-knotted cord that adjusts from 16" to 28" in length.

2.75" x 1.25" x 1/8".


Screen shot 2011-05-29 at 12.23.50 PM



May 30, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Urban density visualized: Mumbai, New York and Istanbul


From the Wall Street Journal: "Here is a look at Mumbai, New York and Istanbul, with diagrams of each city's urban density (showing the number of people living in each square kilometer, with tall spikes indicating denser areas), along with a bird's-eye view of the area of peak density."

May 30, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Planetary Parasol tells time & direction


Designed by Kota Nezu of znug design , it's a "combination parasol, compass and clock that works on the same principal as a sundial."


"Direct yourself so that 'N' of the compass points at yourself and 'S' points at '12' on the parasol. Then the sun seen through the parasol can tell you the approximate season and time by its position."


On sale here.

[via ifitshipitshere]

May 30, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Modern dance on the iPhone

From an item in today's New York Times "Arts, Briefly" column: "Modern dance now has a new performance space, the iPhone, with an... app called Dances for an iPhone, created by the choreographer and videographer Richard Daniels. It features six short films with performances by the dancers Carmen de Lavallade, Deborah Jowitt, Regina Larkin, Christine Redpath and Megan Williams, with biographical information for each performer. Mr. Daniels said this was the first installment in a planned series meant to bring the world of dance to a digital audience. Mr. Daniels is an artist in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, where an update for the app, featuring seven new performances, is in production."

Much more here.

Free, the way we like it.

May 30, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Happened Bandages


Box of 25: $7.


[via Fancy]

May 30, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Absolut Warhola — a visit to the Andy Warhol Family Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, Slovakia

Medzilaborce is a small town where Warhol's parents grew up before immigrating to the U.S.

Above, part 1 of a 2001 documentary film (in 8 parts on YouTube) by Stanislaw Mucha about his journey there.

May 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Miss You Card


4.25" x 5.5" (A2) with matching white envelope.


[via whatthecool and Cool Material]

May 30, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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