Lost Wallets

Can your dog’s photo help?
By Karen B. London PhD, March 2010

According to a psychology study by Richard Wiseman in Edinburgh, Scotland, the likelihood that your lost wallet will be returned to you is influenced by the photos in it. The highest percentage of wallets were returned when there was a baby picture inside (88 percent), but the next most effective photo was one of a dog at 53 percent. A family portrait prompted a 48% return rate while wallets with photos of an elderly couple were only returned 28 percent of the time. Only 20 percent of wallets without photos but containing a charity receipt were returned, and 15 percent of those without a photo or a receipt were turned in. So, that photo of your dog may be great insurance against the loss of a wallet, though a baby picture is even better.

 
The scientist who conducted the study says the results suggest that people are naturally compassionate and want to protect vulnerable babies. So, what do you think? Do puppies make people react in the same way as babies but perhaps not as intensely? Do puppies cause the same strong reaction as babies in some people but not others? Or is the reaction a different, though also caring response? What else could explain what the researchers found?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.