‘Watching Eyes’ nudge technique not always 100% effective (new study)

An innovational study published in 2016 described how a photo of ‘Watching Eyes’ prominently displayed in the perianesthesia area of a busy hospital could encourage healthcare professionals to use the alcohol handrubs (AHRs) provided.  But the experiment was not entirely problem free – some felt that the picture (which showed the eyes of a recognizable leader at the institution where the study took place) could be interpreted as ‘angry looking’. As the study itself revealed :

“Two different study periods were terminated when the pictures were deposited in a trash receptacle at the beginning of the study. The miscreants were never identified.”

Now, a new research project from Mälardalen University, Sweden, has tested whether simple emoticons might be as (or more, or less) efficient. In fact, this time, the experimenters found that their ‘Watching Eyes’ had very little effect – their Smiley/Frowny emoticons, however, were considerably more useful.

See: How a smiley protects health: A pilot intervention to improve hand hygiene in hospitals by activating injunctive norms through emoticons

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]