One of the reasons they greet you might be to stop you from stealing. But it turns out you can prevent shoplifting and not puncture your customer’s personal bubble: just paste eerie cardboard eyes all around the store.
A researcher at Newcastle University discovered that by pasting a pair of accusing eyes on the communal teachers’ lounge coffee pot, contributions to the ‘honesty box’ were three times higher than normal.
The effect may arise from behavioural traits that developed as early humans formed social groups that bolstered their chances of survival. For social groups to work individuals had to co-operate for the good of the group, rather than act selfishly. “There’s an argument that if nobody is watching us it is in our interests to behave selfishly. But when we think we’re being watched we should behave better, so people see us as co-operative and behave the same way towards us,” Dr Bateson said.
Replacing Wal-Mart greeters with stern cardboard cut-outs? Sounds great to me, but then, how are they going to pressure us with their sales pitch? Cardboard word bubbles?