This is a really interesting study which probably explains the psychology behind religion.
Scientists from the University of Kent split students into groups, and make them perform a task that was so difficult the only way they could complete it was to cheat.
One of the groups was told that there was an invisible princess called Alice watching them play the game. The children were asked if they believed in Alice and of the 11 who did only 1 cheated. Interestingly enough of the 7 who didn’t believe 5 cheated but only after they’d physically checked that there was no Alice by waving their hands through the air where she was.
It would have been interesting to see whether they would have cheated if they could not verify the existence of Alice, say because she was behind a glass wall.
This reminds me of another study I once read about in which people were more likely to act honestly if they were exposed to pictures of eyes.
Via New Scientist.