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      Being watched: Effects of an audience on eye gaze and prosocial behaviour

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          Abstract

          When someone is watching you, you may change your behaviour in various ways: this is called the ‘audience effect’. Social behaviours such as acting prosocially or changing gaze patterns may be used as signals of reputation and thus may be particularly prone to audience effects. The present paper aims to test the relationship between prosocial choices, gaze patterns and the feeling of being watched within a novel ecologically valid paradigm, where participants communicate with a video-clip of a confederate and believe she is (or is not) a live feed of a confederate who can see them back. Results show that when participants believe they are watched, they tend to make more prosocial choices and they gaze less to the confederate. We also find that the increase in prosocial behaviour when being watched correlates with social anxiety traits. Moreover, we show for the first time that prosocial choices influence subsequent gaze patterns of participants, although this is true for both live and pre-recorded interactions. Overall, these findings suggest that the opportunity to signal a good reputation to other people is a key modulator of prosocial decisions and eye gaze in live communicative contexts. They further indicate that gaze should be considered as an interactive and dynamic signal.

          Highlights

          • The belief in being watched tends to increase prosocial choices of participants.

          • The increase in prosocial behaviour correlates with higher social anxiety traits.

          • Participants gaze less to the confederate when they believe she can see them.

          • Less prosocial choices correlate with more gazes to confederate after the choice.

          • The opportunity to signal good reputation modulates prosocial choices and eye gaze.

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          Most cited references 29

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            The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment

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              Anonymity in giving in a natural context—a field experiment in 30 churches

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Acta Psychol (Amst)
                Acta Psychol (Amst)
                Acta Psychologica
                North Holland Publishing
                0001-6918
                1873-6297
                1 April 2019
                April 2019
                : 195
                : 50-63
                Affiliations
                UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AZ, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. roser.canigueral.15@ 123456ucl.ac.uk
                Article
                S0001-6918(18)30377-9
                10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.02.002
                6459810
                30878648
                © 2019 The Authors

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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