Improve Your Chances of Having a Wallet Returned

We all know the sickening feeling of thinking we’ve lost our wallet, usually to recover quickly when we find it in the other car/purse/diaper bag, etc.  However, many of us have had the experience of losing a wallet between all the toting, transacting, and dragging we have to do, and apparently there is a proven way to improve the chances of having it returned.

The book 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by British scientist Richard Wiseman compiles the results of recent studies with the most relevant aspects of our lives. There are several fascinating observations to be found, but one that was most interesting is a study whereby 240 wallets were “lost” in public.  All the wallets had the usual raffle tickets, discount vouchers, and fake membership cards, but some also had the following clearly visible inside the wallet:

  • A receipt suggesting a charitable contribution
  • Photo of a cute puppy
  • Photo of a happy family
  • Photo of a smiling baby
  • Photo of a contented elderly couple

Within a week, 42% of the wallets were returned, 6% from the control group that had none of these items inside. Of the remaining wallets returned, 8% were those with the charitable contribution; 11% with the cute puppy photo; 19% with the happy family photo; 21% with the contented elderly couple; and – no surprise to us – 35% of those with the smiling baby photo were returned.

Wiseman offers this “59 Second” application: “If you want to up the chances of a lost wallet being returned, tuck in a photograph of the cutest, happiest baby you can find and make sure that it is prominently displayed.”

Well, every mom knows the cutest, happiest baby in the world – her own! And even if ours aren’t babies any longer, this is all the reason we need to cling to a favorite chubby cheeked photo of our little lamb(s). Plus, here’s an excuse to hand out all of those wallet-sized photos (it seemed so economical at the time to order extra sheets…) for family and friends – maybe your cutie pie’s mug could help them get their wallet back someday.