There is some research that claims the feeling of being watched motivates you to engage in more prosocial behavior. Our gaze recognition ability is apparently hard for us to suppress even when we try to intentionally. When I think about times when I've been around friends, however, I usually feel the pressure to act in a way I feel will impress that specific friend, which is not necessarily pro-social. I imagine the disembodied eyes are not registered as "friends" and heighten our anxiety about who might be looking at us. I wonder whether having pictures of your role models in your workspace and people in your life who encourage you to do well when you talk to them might encourage you to engage in behavior more in line with those virtues you'd like to cultivate. Especially if you intentionally go for pictures where the people in them are looking at the camera directly.

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I'm thinking about A/B testing this by placing an Albertus Magnus portrait on my study desk and flipping a coin in the morning to determine if it will be visible for that day. If there is any effect, it should eventually show up in my Beeminder data (for studying logic, maths, and computer programming).

I would also love to see the results, can you message me when the experiment is complete?

I predict that performing the experiment will result in improved productivity for the 'control' group, as compared to historical trends. I'm indecisive about the experimental days versus the control days.

I predict that performing the experiment will result in improved productivity for the 'control' group, as compared to historical trends.

With what probability?

Two weeks ago, I would have said 80%. I think that it is about four times as likely that you would report supporting results after two weeks, given that you were getting supporting results, than that you would report no experimental effect after only two weeks, given that the data did not support that prediction.

So now its 4:1 * 4:1 or 16:1, or about 95%

I would love to hear the results!

I'll post the results in an open thread or something once I complete the experiment.

[-][anonymous]8y 15

Turning it on its head, not being seen when one wants to be seen is a cause of anxiousness. Not being seen is sometimes interpreted as a pass for antisocial behavior. And what keeps religious people in line? God sees all.

In social work, yelling 'stop fighting' does little but yelling 'everyone is looking at you' works like magic.

In social work, yelling 'stop fighting' does little but yelling 'everyone is looking at you' works like magic.

Neat! Do you have any other little tricks like that?

[-][anonymous]8y 16

Yes.

When someone is worked up, ask "what do you want to have happen?" Tends to re-direct things toward a solution or acceptance there is no solution.

Always (always) offer options. Saying "you have to stop that" adds to the problem. Saying "you can either stop that or leave or I'll call the police" may stop the thing, or cause the person to leave, or empower the person to be the cause for police being summoned. Stop as the only option often causes doubling-down.

Never bluff, always follow through with the options. Either it stops, or they leave, or the police get called. Not a second of "and this time I really mean it!"

Assume responsibility when you mess up, right away and in full.

Follow the flag. You don't have to work there and a line ten miles long is behind you of people willing to take your job. Obey the rules of where you are, even if they are wrong. If they are wrong enough, bring them up through channels. Then leave, because they aren't going to change (for you - they'll change after you're gone).

Avoid 'savior behavior.' You will never save anyone, even if they tell you that you did. Trust the team, the program, the client and fate. Do it all yourself and you're guaranteed to do harm.

Keep your boundaries, forever and always.

You may or may not see a client again. You may or may not see a co-worker again. You may or may not see a boss again. You may or may not see all sorts of people later on. Do your best for them. But you're going to have to go to bed with yourself for the rest of your life. Make ethical choices that allow you to go to sleep.

Resign from social work when it's time, or a little before that.

That reminds me of the saying: "Everyone wants to be noticed, but no-one wants to be watched."

It would be interesting to know if this can be refined by changing the social role of the (real or imagined) watcher. For instance, the behaviors elicited by being watched by a psychologist might be different from those elicited by a police officer, a bar bouncer, a wealthy philanthropist, or a member of the clergy.

I wonder whether having pictures of your role models in your workspace and people in your life who encourage you to do well when you talk to them might encourage you to engage in behavior more in line with those virtues you'd like to cultivate. Especially if you intentionally go for pictures where the people in them are looking at the camera directly.

There is, of course, a long tradition of hanging up pictures like this. There is also the habit of keeping a picture of one's loved ones in one's wallet or on one's desk, to remind you of what it's all for.

Procrastinating just became a whole lot more shameful, what with the Her Majesty watching, and all.

Consider the Puritan Pulpit. The all-seeing Eye of God painted onto the pulpit was the only adornment in the meeting house.

That looks like the Eye of Sauron...

[-][anonymous]8y 0
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If this works, it seems like a good use for those LCD picture frames. Turn them on when you want to work, turn them off to relax.

I don't want a stranger to see me try something new and fail, but ideally that's something I should be doing quite often at work. Otherwise how will I learn? Seems like this would inhibit productive as well as antisocial behavior.

You might be right.. you can have all kinds of inspiring people in your life though, ones that you might not feel the same kinds of pressures from. Like putting up Claudia Donovan from the show Warehouse 13 - the character she plays is really bright, but is definitely a get-into-trouble-first-and-ask-questions-later personality. Or for a real life example, Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler for a computer language, who said "It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission". You might try risking more to impress them, as long as you had a clear picture of what their personalities were like - they might be the kinds of people you'd get in trouble with...

That is the worst making-you-feel-secure poster I have ever seen.

Freedom is Slavery.

You might also think about intensifying the effect by wearing a visible sign of group membership for a group you'd like to represent well. I wear a small cross necklace, but I wear it inside my shirt at work. When I'm riding the metro, I'm a bit more attentive to being especially polite when it's outside my shirt (though obviously I'd like to behave that way always).

I feel that may be a bit creepy, though perhaps that is the point. Still, a slightly-off-center gaze would be preferable. Seems relatively easy to conduct this experiment, unless there's a flaw in my reasoning of what the control would be.

What kind of design would you suggest? Keep in mind my resources are pretty limited. I was thinking maybe of doing flyers with different throwaway email addresses, and seeing how many people responded to flyers with different pictures (people looking away or towards, famous people who are said to possess a specific virtue and random people, or no picture altogether) on them, and then putting them in different well-trafficked areas of some public place.

I was thinking something more long-term, with specific individuals having their office rearranged maybe every two months and measuring various types of productivity during those periods.

[-][anonymous]8y 0

Especially if you intentionally go for pictures where the people in them are looking at the camera directly.

Probably that's vital -- and make them frown too. I've had plenty of pictures of people in my room over the years, but none has had the effect that the one linked to in this comment probably would.