Preventing Shoplifting: Harnessing the Psychological Approach of “Being Watched”

Shoplifting remains a major concern for many retailers. However, using a psychological approach can help address this issue effectively. In particular, amplifying the sensation of “being watched” is highly effective in curbing behaviors. Below are some specific techniques explained.

  • Displaying Eye Illustrations or Images: Studies suggest that merely seeing illustrations or images of eyes can make individuals feel like they’re being monitored. By placing these illustrations near products or the entrance of the store, you can deter potential thieves.
  • Utilizing Mirrors: When individuals see their reflection in a mirror, their self-awareness heightens, often deterring dishonest actions. Consider placing mirrors at the end of product aisles or near the cash register to leverage this effect.
  • Providing Clear Warnings and Instructions: Notices like “Surveillance Cameras in Operation” or “Shoplifting is Punishable by Law” can invoke risk awareness, preventing potential thefts.
  • Active Interaction with Sales Clerks: A friendly greeting or a brief conversation with customers can make them feel “recognized.” This interaction can suppress actions of potential shoplifters.
  • Open Store Design: An open design with clear visibility reduces hiding spots for shoplifters. The direct line of sight from other customers or store clerks intensifies the feeling of being watched.
  • Public Display of Surveillance Footage: Displaying live surveillance footage on in-store monitors can instill a feeling in customers that they are “being watched at this very moment.”


The psychological sensation of “being watched” is highly effective as a measure against shoplifting. By implementing a combination of the above techniques, one can significantly reduce the risk of shoplifting. Let’s use the knowledge of psychology to enhance the safety of our stores.