Power of Context

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Fixing Broken Windows, Graffiti Pages: 4 (1545 words) Published: December 11, 2011
The Power of Context
In Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Power of Context,” Gladwell states that actions that people commit, whether good or bad, are influenced by the nature of the situation more than their actual intentions. The psychological tendency for our minds to morph mannerisms and behavioral information into character explains the “context” portion of Gladwell’s theory. Gladwell wanted to prove his theory that by applying his “Power of Context” theory into the numerous incidents and experiments that were conducted in history. Throughout history, experiments showed that there was a strong correlation between the changes in context with the changes in character. In modern society, people often take impromptu action and abandon their responsibilities as a law-abiding citizen when in a critical situation because the Power of Context states that the human behavior is strongly influenced by its environment. During the 1980s where crime rates were skyrocketing and the subway system was at the brink of closing down, a subway shooting occurred involving a disciplinarian and a law-abiding citizen and four juvenile delinquents. A man named Bernhard Goetz entered the train and sat next to four young black men. These four men were notorious for several crimes, they were the most feared around the area that Goetz lived in; one of the four men, Troy Canty, walked up to Goetz and demanded that Goetz would give him money. Goetz was in a situation where he was about to get robbed and that these four men were not going to stop unless someone stepped up to them and teaches them a lesson and Goetz thought he was the perfect candidate due to his history of being strictly disciplined by his father. Goetz also had a history of being mugged by three people who were also black and subdued one of the attackers after he was robbed. Unfortunately for Goetz the person that was part of the gang that mugged him was released with only a misdemeanor which left Goetz resentful. Gladwell states...
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