So the results are in: if you want people to behave more altruistically, keep an eye on them. It needn't even be
your own eye — it can be the eye of this fairly ridiculous-looking robot named Kismet (his agent sent us a head shot,
at right). In a recent study, Harvard University researchers subjected volunteers to a charity game involving monetary
donations. Half of the group made choices in front of a computer screen with a photo of Kismet present, while the other
half played without. The half that were privy to the visage of dear Kismet ended up giving 30 percent more to the
donation pot than the no-Kismet half. Apparently, this little guy is anthropomorphic enough to invoke ancient parts of
our brains that fail to recognize Kismet's fake eyes as fake, and trigger a subconscious urge to appear more generous.
Don't be surprised if Kismet becomes the new mascot for NPR, PBS and the NEA, OK?
[Via Boing Boing]