Digital human faces displayed at self-service checkouts could reduce the risk of shoplifting, new research suggests.

The study by Abertay University found that shoppers were more likely to be honest about scanning items at checkouts when confronted by a digitised face.

Researchers developed the virtual faces to examine shoppers behaviour, after the most recent studies found an increased likelihood in customers stealing items, due to a rise in self-servicing.

They found participants were less likely to be dishonest about how many items they scanned or weighed when confronted by the faces.

Susan Siebenaler, who conducted the research as part of her PhD, said: "The participants were placed in situations in which they could benefit financially through dishonest behaviour.

"Participants appeared to be positively influenced by greater social presence, such as human-like features, which meant they were less likely to cheat."

Dr Andrea Szymkowiak, senior lecturer in human computer interaction, said: "People are responsive to social human cues, and there seems to be an in-built mechanism that makes us respond to faces and eye contact.

"The idea here is that the presence of human-like digital characters may influence shopper behaviour, but further research is required to determine the real-world benefit of such technology."

The research is part of new £11.7m project by Abertay University to create a new cybersecurity research centre.