The Broken Window Theory, which is also known as the Epidemic Theory of Crime, is one of the foundations of the bestseller book Tipping Point (2000) by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell defines tipping points as "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable; these are the moments of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." Tipping points are made possible through epidemics.
Gladwell came up with the three rules or principles of epidemics, based on learnings from worldwide stories of epidemics: (1) contagiousness (or how to be contagious and infect others); (2) little things have big effects; and (3) changes happen in dramatic moments. He further scrutinized what makes dramatic moments and identified three more: (1) law of the few; (2) power of context; and the (3) stickiness factor (or retainability, the impression that really marks and lasts). The law of the few are epidemics facilitators and there are three types: (1) the connectors (networkers); (2) the mavens (technical people; technocrats); and the (3) salesmen (persuaders). Without them knowing, these three types of people make it possible for epidemics to occur through their connections, technical skills and persuasive skills.
In the power of context, Gladwell underscores the environment and its power to shape people's behavior. Here is the crux of explaining and changing people's behavior by understanding and controlling the environment. Gladwell makes use of the Broken Window Theory as the main lever in understanding the power of context.
The Broken Window Theory was developed by James Wilson and George Kelling, both are criminologists and law enforcers. Gladwell disclosed that both Wilson and Kelling "argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder -- which is symbolized by a broken window. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the impression of...
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