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Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment

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  • Jo�o Ramos
  • Benno Torgler
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    Abstract

    We study the broken windows theory with a field experiment in a shared area of a workplace in academia (department common room). We explore academics' and postgraduate students' behaviour under an order condition (clean environment) and a disorder condition (messy environment). We find strong support that signs of disorderly behaviour triggers littering. In the disorder treatment 59% of the subjects litter compared to 18% in the order condition. The results remain robust when controlling compared to previous studies for a large set of factors in a multivariate analysis. When academic staff members and postgraduate students observe that others violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean the probability of littering increases ceteris paribus by around 40 percent.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2009-21.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2009-21

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    Related research

    Keywords: broken windows theory; field experiment; littering;

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Play with your colleagues, and write a paper about your experience
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-11-17 15:08:00
    2. The power of peers
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-10-23 12:45:56
    3. Tilltagande nedskräpning
      by nonicoclolasos in Nonicoclolasos on 2010-01-21 12:52:07
    4. Are academics messy?
      by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-10-18 13:13:00
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    Cited by:
    1. Robert Dur & Ben Vollaard, 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example - A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-061/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 10 Apr 2014.
    2. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by TILEC DP 2013-006)," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center 2012-024, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    3. Robert Dur & Ben Vollaard, 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example - A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-061/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 10 Apr 2014.
    4. Christoph Engel & Sebastian Kube & Michael Kurschilgen, 2011. "Can we manage first impressions in cooperation problems? An experimental study on “Broken (and Fixed) Windows”," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    5. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by CentER DP 2013-018)," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2012-054, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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