Van Rompay, T. J. L., Vonk, D. J., & Fransen, M. L. (2009). The eye of the camera: Effects of security cameras on pro-social behavior. Environment and Behavior, 41, 60-74. DOI: 10.1177/0013916507309996

Abstract: This study addresses the effects of security cameras on prosocial behavior. Results from previous studies indicate that the presence of others can trigger helping behavior, arising from the need for approval of others. Extending these findings, the authors propose that security cameras can likewise trigger such approval-seeking behaviors by implying the presence of a watchful eye. Because people vary in the extent to which they strive for others’ approval, it was expected that the effects of security cameras on prosocial behavior vary with participants’ need for approval. To test these predictions, an experimental study was conducted with “presence of security camera” and “need for approval” as independent variables. Results showed that participants indeed offered more help in the presence of a security camera but only to the extent that this helping involved public or observable behavior. As expected, this effect was more pronounced for individuals high in need for approval. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Keywords: helping, individual differences, institutional setting, security camera, self-awareness