Public Service Announcement: Babies deter theft

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Who knew? Apparently would-be thieves have a soft spot for baby photos. A research study conducted in Edinburgh found that lost wallets containing baby photos were returned nine out of ten times.

According to UK’s The Times:

Hundreds of wallets were planted on the streets of Edinburgh by psychologists last year. Perhaps surprisingly, nearly half of the 240 wallets were posted back. But there was a twist.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, and his team inserted one of four photographs behind a clear plastic window inside, showing either a smiling baby, a cute puppy, a happy family or a contented elderly couple. Some wallets had no image and some had charity papers inside.

When faced with the photograph of the baby people were far more likely to send the wallet back, the study found. In fact, only one in ten were hard-hearted enough not to do so. With no picture to tug at the emotions, just one in seven were sent back.

According to Dr Wiseman the result reflects a compassionate instinct towards vulnerable infants that people have evolved to ensure the survival of future generations. “The baby kicked off a caring feeling in people, which is not surprising from an evolutionary perspective,” he said.

This begs the question: If it works with wallets, will it also work for gadgets? Perhaps an adorable baby as the background on your cell phone and laptop might significantly up your chances of getting those devices back should they become lost or stolen.

And finally, some suggestions of photos to NOT have on your gadgets:

  • You leaning against an Audi, eating lobster and wearing silver pants and a T-shirt that says “Enron-AIG Spring Fling 1998!”
  • A stack of $100 bills with a caption that says “Plenty more where that came from — In my wallet, which is made from unicorn hair.”
  • This photo

Want to keep your wallet? Carry a baby picture [Timesonline.co.uk via Consumerist]

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