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|Title:||Moral Judgment: Surveillance Cues Debunked|
|Keywords:||surveillance cues;moral judgment;cues of being watched;meta-analysis;eyespots;eye images;watching eyes;observation cues;generosity;moral condemnation|
|Abstract:||Several studies have seemingly demonstrated that artificial surveillance cues, such as images of watching eyes, increase prosocial behaviour. One of these studies investigated the effect of observation cues on moral judgment (Bourrat et al., 2011). Participants rated the moral acceptability of two misdeeds: falsifying information on a resume and keeping the cash found in a lost wallet. The moral acceptability ratings were lower for participants who were presented with an image of watching eyes than they were for participants exposed to a control image of flowers. The authors suggested that false cues of being watched triggered evolved cognitive mechanisms for recognizing when one is being observed. These mechanisms may have driven the cued participants to behave in a way that would have protected their reputations if they really had been watched; that is, by expressing disapproval of immoral behaviour. Inspired by Bourrat et al., I conducted an experiment investigating the effect of surveillance cues on self-rated positive traits, religiosity, and moral judgment. I found no evidence for an effect on any of these variables, including moral judgment. I conducted 3 more experiments, each increasingly similar in design to Bourrat et al., to determine the reason for the discrepancy in our results. None of my experiments replicated the surveillance cue effect. I suggest the most likely explanation is that Bourrat et al. obtained a false positive. My experimental results call into question the effect of surveillance cues on moral judgment; thus, it is appropriate to be skeptical of surveillance cues generally. I conducted a meta-analysis of studies investigating the effect of surveillance cues on generosity. The resulting funnel plot is consistent with publication bias in favour of significant results; it may also indicate that the surveillance cue effect on generosity, though perhaps a real phenomenon, is smaller than the literature implies.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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|Northover_Stefanie_B_2014July_MSc.pdf||Entire thesis||731.35 kB||Adobe PDF||View/Open|
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