FYI logo

The Secret to Stopping Lunch Thieves

It's all in the eyes

By Judey Kalchik Published about a year ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2023

The ‘watching-eye effect’, also called the Hawthorne effect, is a powerful tool that you’ve likely seen in action without even realizing it. This principle is widely used in public spaces and you can harness it's impact on your own life... right down to protecting your lunch from the slippery lunch thief.

Identify the Use of the Hawthorne Effect in Public

The next time you are waiting for an elevator in a hotel or lobby, look around and note the polished surfaces or mirrors. For that matter, note inside the elevator- shiny polished surfaces or mirrors are there, too. If you are at the gym, make note of the mirrors in the locker room, at fast food restaurants notice the highly polished surfaces in restrooms, and next time you pay a cashier take a look around and see if there is a mirror or other reflective surface in sight.

Look in those mirrors or polished surfaces and you’ll see your eyes staring back at you.

The watching-eye effect explains that people behave better and reduce anti-social actions when their subconscious is triggered by the presence of eyes, even if they are only a symbol or their own reflections.

Mirrors in hotel lobbies and at elevator banks are standard hospitality industry staging that reduces vandalism and dampens the urge to harm others.

In subways and train stations posters with images of eyes have the same effect, even if they are stylized or crude ovals.

Eyes Influence Altruistic Behaviors, too

Look at a selection of advertising or non-profit emails. Do you notice a theme?

The most successful donation campaign literature and graphics contain eyes looking out at the potential donor.

Who could tell this little guy that no one will help him find a home?

Or how about this duo, would you donate to save the life of this little girl’s kitty? It’s a double hit!

Stopping the Lunch Thief!

Put a stop to the lunchroom thief using the implementation of the Hawthorne Effect!

  • Hang a photo or poster in the kitchen area that has eyes prominently shown. person, animal… even two wide-open sunflowers can induce this effect.
  • Place a sticker or tag with a face showing wide-open eyes on your lunch bag before you place it in the refrigerator.
  • Hang a magnet on the door of the locker or shelf where you keep your desk food snacks, just make sure it shows wide-open eyes.
  • For good measure, put a sign on a donation box asking folks to chip in for coffee supplies. Make sure there are two open and pleading eyes on the sign (you could use any one of the images in this article!). Not only should you get donations, but the donation box shouldn’t be pilfered, either!

What examples of this have you thought of or seen since starting this article? Please let me know in the comments!


It's amazing the way learning just a few new things can improve your life. Here's just three things to know before you buy a new mattress. These are hard-earned tips that I learned as a trained sleep expert and mattress manager. Being prepared before you buy a mattress saves you from spending more than you need to and will go a long way to guaranteeing you your very best night's sleep.

I hope you aren't too sleepy after reading about mattresses: here are two conditions that you can bring up over dinner some time. Ans, yes- I have them both.

Thank you for spending time with me!

Please click on the wee heart if my writing clicked with you, and drop in a comment to share your thoughts!

You can also find me on Medium.

HumanitySciencePop Culture

About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

Add your insights

Comments (21)

  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    Okay, who stole your lunch? 🤣. Congratulations on your Top Story! 🤗

  • Call Me Lesabout a year ago

    That's fascinating. I am going to try and find a way to put it to use to deter the vandalism here. Our underground parking has gotten really bad. I've been broken into 3 times. I think I'll draw some eyes on my sun screen for my windshield! Will update if anything comes of it!

  • Great Storytelling ❤️😉Congratulations on your Top Story🎉🎉🎉✨

  • Aiden Bliskiabout a year ago

    Great story, I like it :)

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    Interesting and fun read - congratulations on your Top Story!

  • JBazabout a year ago

    That is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this information and Congratulations on Top Story

  • Kendall Defoe about a year ago

    I like this one a lot. We need to watch ourselves and others when things seem safe. Great Top Story!

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    I have never heard of this but found it so interesting! A very engaging read :) Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a year ago

    I loved this interesting idea of promoting altruism through eye contact, which makes a lot of sense! Great work! Congratulations on top story!

  • Gerald Holmesabout a year ago

    Never heard this before but it makes perfect sense. Congrats on the Top story.

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    I learned a lot of new things today. Thank you so much!!! Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Congrats on the TS

  • Leslie Writesabout a year ago

    I hadn’t heard of this before. It’s so cool the way the human mind works. Fascinating and useful info! Thank you for sharing 💖

  • Donna Reneeabout a year ago

    Very interesting, Judey!! I wonder if we are just attempting to avoid the power of this effect when we try to avoid eye contact with people soliciting for something? ....just me? 🤣

  • Congratulations on your Top Story for this excellent piece

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    The eyes have it!!! Excellent info!!!💖💕

  • Informative & a delight to read. Immediately made me think of Ross Geller on "Friends" with his after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with the "moist maker" with his boss starring as the lunchroom bandit who swipes it & then throws half of it away because "It was a big sandwich." If Ross had only installed mirrors, he might not have been put on a leave of absence.

  • Kristen Balyeatabout a year ago

    Wow, this is fascinating and makes so much sense! Thank you for this! I wonder if kids also respond to the Hawthorn effect? I have snacks to protect from my children. haha! I'm certainly going to think of you anytime I see eyeballs out in public.

  • Jay Kantorabout a year ago

    Ms Judey - Once again - Thank you for for ‘opening’ my “Eyes” with your so thought out presentation! *You always ‘enlighten’ me ! Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, Cal ‘Senior’ Vocal Author

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Intriguing article. I'll hang a pic of Abigail on the fridge. Lol

  • Dana Crandellabout a year ago

    A very informative article, Judey! In response to your closing question, I work at home, so the only lunch thief I have to watch out for is my wife. Come to think of it, though, there are two faces on the refrigerator with eyes looking straight at me. Hmmmm.....

Judey Kalchik Written by Judey Kalchik

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.