An interesting story I ran across recently, quoted below:
Do you believe in ghosts? Many people say they don't--but, according to one expert who studies attitudes about death, they act like they do. In his study, University of Arkansas evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering, PhO, asked students to take a computerized test of abstract thinking. He rigged the exam to allow cheating and promised $50 to the highest scorer. Before taking the test, one group of participants was given a straightforward set of instructions; another was asked to read the bio of a fictional grad student who, they were told, had developed the computer program, only to die shortly thereafter; and a third read the same bio, and was told that there had been sightings of the programmer's ghost in the room J where the test would be conducted. The participants who were told a dead person was in the room with them were far less likely to cheat, Bering found. "There's a belief across lots of cultures that the living wi!! be punished by the disgruntled dead if one commits some sort of moral transgression," he says. "If you do something wrong in front of some other person, you have to worry about consequences." Apparently, it doesn't matter if the person's actually breathing or not.
(Anne Driscoll writing "Spooky Science" for an unknown magazine, Fall 2005.)