Sunday, March 11, 2012

Broken Window theory

Broken window theory was put up by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, in an article titled "Broken Windows".

Basically the theory is explained as follows

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside”

Basically if something appears to be uncared for there is greater chance the destruction will be more. If I feel no one else cares for something even I won’t care for it.

Put yourself in this situation, “A small fair girl of 5 years old, well dressed but roaming lost in a mall with tears in her eyes, what do you do? You mostly will ask the girl whats wrong and try to trace her guardians”
But now consider another situation, "You are at a traffic signal, a small girl of 5 years in shabby clothes is sitting across the road with a look of hunger in her face, what do you do? Roll up the window?"

Why this discrimination? Is it just cause of the location? Think about it, in both cases the child was a 5 year old girl.

Not convinced about the theory? You wondering what if the broken window is in a upscale location? Rich people don’t go about breaking windows, do they?

Let me put another extract from the same article
“We arranged to have an automobile without license plates parked with its hood up on a street in the Bronx and a comparable automobile on a street in Palo Alto, California. The car in the Bronx was attacked by "vandals" within ten minutes of its "abandonment." The first to arrive were a family--father, mother, and young son--who removed the radiator and battery. Within twenty-four hours, virtually everything of value had been removed. Then random destruction began--windows were smashed, parts torn off, upholstery ripped. Children began to use the car as a playground. Most of the adult "vandals" were well-dressed, apparently clean-cut whites. The car in Palo Alto sat untouched for more than a week. Then we smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Soon, passersby were joining in. Within a few hours, the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed. Again, the "vandals" appeared to be primarily respectable whites.”

Basically its not the location, Humans just enjoy breaking stuff (how much ever you deny it). The difference in reactions was explained in the article, I quote

“Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding. Because of the nature of community life in the Bronx--its anonymity, the frequency with which cars are abandoned and things are stolen or broken, the past experience of "no one caring"--vandalism begins much more quickly than it does in staid Palo Alto, where people have come to believe that private possessions are cared for, and that mischievous behavior is costly. But vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers--the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility--are lowered by actions that seem to signal that "no one cares."

How’s it we humans with our superior intellect still governed by the basic instincts (Humans, do we only try to survive and reproduce?) ? Why is it that if a message No one else cares is conveyed even I won’t care? Can't I think for myself?

It is often complained about India that we keep our homes clean but dirty our surroundings, Isn’t it possible we keep our homes clean only cause we care and dirty our surrounding because no one cares. If you have noticed all India is not dirty, there are islands of clean neighbourhoods.
Which can be explained by  considering  this examble of a pavement.
If some litter accumulates and its cleaned at once the road remains clean but if its not cleaned, soon more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash and the whole road becomes a garbage dump.
In Mumbai, Take Powai for e.g. In the Hiranandani complex everything is clean but step outside, just near IIT campus you will see the litter. It’s the same people who pass through both areas but why the difference? I belive its cause of the above Broken Window effect. No one bothers to clean up outside IIT but Hiranandani complex is always kept spick and span

But why am I rambling this? I don’t know, Might be cause of the Broken Window in my head which needed fixing :P