lost wallet

Using Psychology To Get Back Your Lost Wallet

By Anupum Pant

Do you like to keep a picture of someone you love in your wallet? If the answer is no, you should probably start doing it. But, suppose you have a loved baby, adorable parents, cute puppy and grandparents at home, all of whom you love equally, whose picture do you think would be the best one to keep in your wallet?

Professor Richard Wiseman from University of Hertfordshire, a psychologist, decided to find out. He designed an experiment that would be conducted on the street and would help him figure out the answer to this tough choice.

An experiment on the street

He and his team dropped 240 wallets around the city of Edinburgh. Just to find out, how many of the wallets would be returned by the finders to their respective owners.

Not all the wallets were same. A few displayed picture of a cute baby, others had a picture of a puppy, some had a family picture and others contained an elderly couple’s portrait.

There were some other wallets dropped which contained a receipt suggesting how charitable the owner of that wallet was. These had no pictures in them.

Which one do you think won? Guess and read on…


Following were the return percentages of wallets:

  • I hope babies don’t get too much cute-aggression out of you because the ones with baby pictures – An incredible 88% of these wallets got returned!
  • Ones with the puppy pictures – 53% were returned.
  • Family portrait wallets – 48% came back.
  • With just 28% return percentage, the ones with the picture of an elderly couple fared the worst among all wallets that had pictures.
  • And only 15% of the wallets that enclosed a receipt and had no pictures were returned to their owners.

Moral (take it with a grain of salt)

If it doesn’t hurt, you could experiment with a cute baby’s picture in your wallet. Since it was tested in just one city, there is a great chance that you could get a different result in your area. If you don’t have one yet, find one on the WWW. The internet is full of them!

Getting back a lost wallet 88 times out of 100 times is big probability. What do you have to lose? A simple picture of a baby will pump up your chances of getting back the wallet by so many percentage points. Go, get one printed right now!

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3 thoughts on “Using Psychology To Get Back Your Lost Wallet”

  1. The main flaw in this experiment is a lack of a control group. There should have been wallets with no picture and no receipt – in order to get a baseline.

    Another crucial thing is whether the economic backgrounds of the drop locations were the same. A wallet may be less likely to be returned from an economically challenged area if the person who finds it is struggling financially.

    1. Yep, I completely agree with you regarding the baseline.
      Also, there could have been a test with combination of pictures. And like you said, it could have been tested in different locations around the world – at places with varying economies etc…
      But, then these studies can almost never be exhaustive. The good thing is, it does contribute something. People can always add to the study. 🙂

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