A psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England scattered “lost wallets” throughout the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The only difference: Each contained one of four different photos—a cute puppy, a happy family, an elderly couple or a smiling baby.
Which of the wallets got returned most often? Yep, the one with photo with the smiling baby. In fact, 88 percent of those wallets found their way back home, beating the other images handily.
The study is just one of many examples of “supersuasion”—powerful influences that can “disable our cognitive systems in seconds”—according to an article by Kevin Dutton in the current Scientific American Mind.
If you’re a student of rhetoric or persuasion, none of Dutton’s points will strike you as particularly new. But I give him credit for the “supersuasion” wrapper, as it convinced me to shell out $5.95 at the newsstand last night. You can read the whole issue here for free, thanks to Scribd.com.
Leaves me wondering: How would the same study fare with an iPhone in New York? I better change my wallpaper image right now.