Studies have shown that in areas where litter, graffiti, broken windows, abandoned cars and bicycles were located, people were more likely to exhibit criminal behaviors. This is related to the “broken window theory” which postulates that urban disorder encourages petty crime. For example, Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg of the social science faculty at the University of Groningen attached flyers to the handlebars of bicycles parked in an alley along with a “No Littering” sign on the wall, though a trash can was not provided. When the alley walls were clean and free of graffiti, 67% of the bicyclists took the flyer with them to dispose of it properly. When the same area was scribbled with graffiti, only 31% percent did.
As humans, we are constantly impacted by the actions of those around us, good or bad. We learn behavior from others and littering is one of these behaviors. According to Onearth.com, a study put out by CBS provided further evidence that littering can be contagious. If an individual sees one law or social norm being broken, they are more likely to violate another.
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