Sunday, May 1, 2011

Broken Windows Theory

I have been reading "Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. He just discussed Broken Windows Theory.

Broken Windows Theory suggests that people's actions are directly affected by the messages we receive from our environment. Broken windown and graffiti send the message that law enforcement is lax, and nobody cares about a neighborhood. These messages tend to reinforce attitudes that lead to vandalism and continue through the spectrum to more and more violent crime. New York City used this theory to clean up their subway system in seemingly small ways, like never allowing a graffitied train on the tracks, and in turn dramatically lowered their crime rate, even during an economic downturn.

The idea that our environment dramatically affects our attitudes and actions had me thinking about my own home. What messages are being communicated in my home environment, and what affect is it having on my family's actions? In addition, I have also been pondering what small changes in my home environment to produce a desired effect in my children's behaviors and growth?

First, I think we need to decide what we want our home to be like and what we want for our children. One thing I want is for my children to love to learn and use their imaginations. To foster an environment that promotes learning and creating I decided to make a small change. We bought an entertainment center with doors that close over the TV so you can't see it. When closed, it looks like an armoire. We have only had it up for a day, I am hoping that when the TV is out of sight we will be more likely to do other things with our time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you want your house to be more ordered and less chaotic? Maybe installing a key and mail holder or a place for the shoes to always be kept can be the beginning of other small changes that will gradually lead to more order and less chaos. Perhaps you want children who are aware of the world around them, why not put a globe or large world map prominently displayed in the family room or play room?

Now I want your ideas. Think of what outcomes you want in your home and family. Then think of one or two small changes in your home environment that will lend to that change of attitudes or actions.

I really want to hear your ideas!


  1. One thing I liked about my family is that they had bookshelves filled with books all over the house. Whenever I was bored it was just so easy to pick up something and once I got into it I spent my time reading rather then watching tv. Also seeing the way my parents spent there time really reflected on me. I wanted to read my scriptures every night because my dad did and I wanted to learn how to knit and sew because its what my mom did. I don't have kids so I don't know anything about that subject only what effected me growing up. (i really like reading your blog btw)

  2. This post was great in helping me figure out how to decorate my home. I definitely want to have an atmosphere of religion, so I need to make sure I have pictures of the Temple and Christ, and I need to make sure that my attitude reflects the peace of those things.

    Also reading this post and thinking of cultivating creativity, I thought of decorating my kid's playroom. Originally I was just going to place pictures of my kids, but now I am thinking of putting up fun characters and playful designs.