March 22, 2012
Environment affect Human Behavior
Most people would believe that we are shaped and defined by our values and moral character. However, Malcolm Gladwell argues, in the chapter “The Power of Context, Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime”, that “the features of our immediate social and physical world, the streets we walk down, the people we encounter – play a huge role in shaping who we are and how we act” (160). Gladwell points out that people are shaped by their “external environment” (160). Gladwerll’s theory, the importance of immediate physical environments, can also be found in Azar Nafisi’s passage, Reading Lolita in Tehran, showing us how she created an outlet for herself and a selected number of former students to study the works of literature in an extremely difficult environment. Both "The Power of Context" and "Reading Lolita in Tehran" emphasize the role that physical place plays in human behavior, however, how does the "immediate physical and social world" (165) affect the behavior of the women in Nafisi’s reading group? Throughout The Power of Context, Malcolm Gladwell describes the effects that the certain environments cause. Gladwell says that, “…our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances” and so that people are highly sensitive to their environments and behave accordingly (160). To illustrate the power of context, Gladwell takes on the strangely rapid decline in violent crime rates that occurred in the 1990s in New York City. Although Gladwell acknowledges that a wide variety of complex factors and variables likely played a role in sparking the decline, he argues convincingly that it was a few small but influential changes in the environment of the city that allowed these factors to tip into a major reduction in crime. For instance, “Children are powerfully shaped by their external environment … the features of our immediate social and physical world, the streets we walk...
Cited: Gladwell, Malcolm. “The Power of Context.” The New Humanities Reader. Ed. Richard
E. Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
Nafisi, Azar. “Selections from Reading Lolita in Tehran.” The New Humanities Reader.
4th ed. Ed. Richard E. Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt, 2009. 248-265. Print.
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