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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 16-Oct-09

 


Friday 16-October-09

Broken windows

The 'Broken Windows' theory says that if people see broken windows, litter and other signs of social decay they will likely add to it. The converse principle is that if you fix the windows and pick up the litter then petty crime and social disorder will ease. Of course there are many other causes but at least this gives an easy beginning.

Researcher Kees Keizer and colleagues tested this principle by changing various indicators of order and then watching what passers-by did. The result was an overwhelming confirmation of the broken windows theory.

In summary, they found that: Graffiti in an alley meant bicycle owners were more than twice as likely to drop litter. Bikes chained to a fence illegally meant people were more than twice as likely to squeeze through a forbidden entrance to a car-park. Trolleys not returned to shops or fireworks being let off significantly increased littering. Litter and graffiti nearby led to a greater tendency to steal (a money-containing envelope protruding from a postbox).

In other words, any sign of lawlessness or rule-breaking was seen as a sign of permission or otherwise motivated people to also break rules, quite possibly in other ways.

Its a slippery slope.

Reference:
K. Keizer, S. Lindenberg, L. Steg (2008). The Spreading of Disorder. Science.


Your comments


 Thank you, I wanted to say NO to my fifteen year old son about graffiting the walls of his bedroom, I sent this information already to his mail, to make him think about of his new idea, I suggested to him to draw graffiti over a lienzo, like a piece of art (so it can be removed after a while ), I am thinking if this new approach would have the same effect? of breaking rules....

-- grace


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