aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Why do you do the things you do?

“Human behavior is influenced by three competing instincts: to act in a socially appropriate manner, to do what feels good in the moment and to maximize one's resources.”

I’m going to have to think about whether that’s true as I go about my day.

I read the above in an article about a study that showed that “the broken windows” theory seemed to hold true. That theory says that if you crack down on low-level offenses like vandalism and panhandling, you can head off more crimes.

The article says, “To test this, [the researcher] attached fliers for a fake sportswear store to the handlebars of bicycles parked in a shopping area. With no trash can nearby, shoppers returning to their bikes could either take the fliers with them or litter.

A wall near the bicycles had a sign indicating that graffiti was forbidden. When the wall was indeed graffiti-free, 33% of people left the fliers on the ground or attached them to other bikes. After Keizer painted graffiti on the wall, the percentage of litterers rose to 69%.

Keizer said littering jumped because the socially appropriate instinct -- to deposit the flier in a trash can -- was overtaken by the feel-good instinct to let someone else throw it away.

You can read more about this study here.

Hm, this explains why my messy house often seems to attract even worse messes.

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