The unwatched soul

July 3, 2006 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

Apparently, people’s level of integrity is significantly influenced by whether or not someone is watching them.

According to a press release at Newcastle University’s website, researchers at the university studied a common snack table that relied on the honor system in collecting payments. The finding: “People put nearly three times as much money into an ‘honesty box’ when they were being watched by a pair of eyes on a poster, compared with a poster that featured an image of flowers.”

According to the researchers, people respond (consciously or not) to the feeling that they are being watched, because they are worried about what other people will think of their behavior. If they think they’ll go unobserved, they apparently don’t feel so obligated to be honest.

Isolated phenomenon? Possibly.

11258149.gifBut consider this passage from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, in which Miller elaborates on the hidden realities of the unwatched soul:

“It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature because we live in this system of checks and balances. If we get caught, we will be punished. But that doesn’t make us good people; it only makes us subdued.

“Just think about the Congress and Senate and even the president. The genius of the American system is not freedom; the genius of the American system is checks and balances. Nobody gets all the power. Everybody is watching everybody else. It is as if the founding fathers knew, intrinsically, that the soul of man, unwatched, is perverse.

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Photos Legislating the sins we can’t control

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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