Effect of artificial surveillance cues on reported moral judgment: Experimental failures to replicate and two meta-analyses

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Several papers have reported that artificial surveillance cues, such as images of watching eyes, cause anonymous participants to behave as if they are actually under surveillance, thus increasing moral behavior. In a series of four experiments, we found no evidence that artificial surveillance cues impact reported moral judgment, self-rated possession of positive traits, or religiosity. Two small meta-analyses, both comprising six experiments investigating the effect of artificial surveillance cues on moral judgment, provided mixed conclusions. One meta-analysis produced a mean effect size not significantly different from zero and the other produced a mean effect size on the edge of significance. On the whole, artificial surveillance cues have inconsistent effects, or possibly no effect, on moral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 3 2016



  • Cues of being watched
  • Eyespots
  • Meta-analysis
  • Moral judgment
  • 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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