Behavior: Secret Voices

Messages that manipulate

A shopper in a department store picks up a scarf, glances furtively about, crumples it up and shoves it into her pocket. Then come second thoughts. She fishes out the scarf, smooths it again and returns it to the counter. Another victory for honesty? Not quite. Credit for the would-be shoplifter's change of heart really belongs to what the store's managers call their "little black box," a kind of electronic conscience.

Basically a sound mixer like those used by disco deejays, the box mingles bland music with subliminal anti-theft messages ("I...

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