Today I Learned about “Watching Eyes” and bike theft

Yesterday’s episode of Sci Show Psych with Hank Green discussed the Watching Eyes Effect, in which people act differently when there’s a picture of eyes in plain view.

Hank caught my attention when he mentioned that pictures of eyes result in things like fewer bike thefts. Hello!


I immediately thought that we can post photos of faces near bike lockers and other bike parking locations that are subject to theft. A Google search quickly led me numerous references to this study at Newcastle University in England. The researchers monitored bike theft reports on the campus for 12 months, then posted durable signs at three locations, with the “numerous other locations” left as controls.

Watching Eyes Effect and bike theft

The study found thefts decreased 62% at the “We’re Watching You” locations, but increased 65% at the controls, suggesting the signs displaced the bad behavior.

I wonder if this trick can work if I paste googly eyes to my bike frame?

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