Artificial surveillance cues do not increase generosity: two meta-analyses

Stefanie B. Northover, William C. Pedersen, Adam Cohen, Paul W. Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Many studies have seemingly demonstrated that anonymous individuals who are shown artificial cues of being watched behave as if they are being watched by real people. However, several studies have failed to replicate this surveillance cue effect. In light of these mixed results, we conducted two meta-analyses investigating the effect of artificial observation cues on generosity. Overall, our meta-analyses found no evidence to support the claim that artificial surveillance cues increase generosity, either by increasing how generous individuals are, or by increasing the probability that individuals will show any generosity at all. Therefore, surveillance cue effects should be interpreted cautiously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-153
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cues of being watched
  • Eyespots
  • Generosity
  • Meta-analysis
  • Observation cues
  • Surveillance cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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