Better before a Mirror?

Romana Žihlavníková, Andrej Mentel, Ivan H. Tuf


When people are among the others, they tend to be more prosocial, moral and generous. What can influence their behavior when they are alone? To make them act as if they are among the others? One of many possible factors can be to make them feel like somebody is looking. It could only be a mirror. Our previous experiments provide the proof of its influence on the compliant behavior of the adult and children samples. In both experimental situations in the presence of the mirror, participants were acting more compliantly with the stated standard. How could something as simple as mirror influence one’s behavior? One approach argues that visual stimulus induces automatic perception of “one being watched”, even though it is their reflection. In addition, in the situation in front of mirror, the feeling of being watched induces the mechanism of the self-awareness. In the self-awareness state discrepancy between social standard and actual behavior become salient. Transgressing in that situation could endanger self-esteem. The third possible approach is a discrepancy-reducing feedback loop. Finally, we mention results of our experiments and propose further study of the self-awareness in experimental and naturalistic conditions.


self-awareness, transgression, feedback loop, prosocial reputation, self-esteem

Full Text:

PDF (Czech)


Show references Hide references

ARIELY, D. Jak drahé je zdarma? 1. vyd. Praha: Práh, 2009.

BATESON, M.; NETTLE, D.; ROBERTS, G. Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology Letters, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006), s. 412–414. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0509

BEAMAN, A.L.; KLENTZ, B.; DIENER, E. Self-Awareness and Transgression in Children: Two Field Studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 37, No. 10 (1979), s. 1835–1846.

CARVER, C.S. Self-awareness. In Handbook of self and identity (pp. 179–196). New York, NY: Guilford Press (2003).

CARVER, C.S.; SCHEIER, M.F. The self-attention-induced feedback loop and social facilitation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 17,No. 6, (1981), s. 545–568. doi:

HAXBY, J.; HOFFMAN, E.; GOBBINI, M.. The distributed human neural system for face perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 4, No. 6 (2000), s. 223–233. Retrieved from

HENRICH, J.; GIL-WHITE, F.J. The evolution of prestige: freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol. 22 (2001), s. 165-196.

JAMES, W. The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1. New York: Cosimo, Inc. 2007.

KREBS, D.L. The Origins of Morality An Evolutionary Account. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc. 2011.

ROBERTS, G. Competitive altruism: from reciprocity to the handicap principle. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 265, No. 1394 (1998), s. 427–431. doi:10.1098/rspb.1998.0312

SILVIA, P.J.; DUVAL, T.S. Objective Self-Awareness Theory: Recent Progress and Enduring Problems. Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 5, No. 3 (2001), s. 230–241.

SILVIA, P.J.; PHILLIPS, A.G. Self and Identity Self-awareness Without Awareness ? Implicit Self-focused Attention and Behavioral Self-regulation. Self Identity, Vol. 12, No. 2 (2013), s. 114-127. doi 10.1080/15298868.2011.639550

SWART, C.; ICKES, W.; MORGENTHALER, E.S. The effect of objective self awareness on compliance in a reactance situation. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1 (1978), s. 135-139.

ŽIHLAVNÍKOVÁ, R. "Ja som predsa dobrý človek!" - vplyv objektívneho sebauvedomovania na morálne rozhodovanie. Súborná postupová práca. Olomouc: Katedra psychológie, Filozofická fakulta, Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, 2013. Ms., 46 s.

Copyright (c) 2015 Pro-Fil

Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097