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Radical Civility: Some Additional Reading

In my column today I mentioned a study done by Dutch social scientists, led by Kees Keizer, that showed people were more likely to transgress in environments suffering from "broken windows." The paper is a bit dense, but it makes fascinating reading. What's especially clever is how the researchers set up the different experiments. In one, they put fliers on the handlebars of bicycles parked along an alley that had no trash cans. They wanted to see who would throw the fliers on the ground and who would take them with them. People were more likely to toss them on ground when the nearby walls were painted with graffiti than when the walls were clean. Read the whole report here.

I'm grateful to Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University for sending me the paper. He's done a lot of work in that area. Much of what he does is aimed at companies for use in marketing. Here's his firm, Influence at Work.

Also, there's now a Twitter feed for the Radical Civility project at, you guessed it, radicalcivility.

By John Kelly  |  June 22, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
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Wonderful article. Yes, we need Radical Civility at the theatre. We also need it at concerts. I moved to the Midwest four years ago and people here are just as rude as people anywhere, there are just fewer of them. Try going to a concert and sitting down for the event. I dare you. Everyone stands up and if you can't see the concert, too bad. In addition to standing up, the people in front of us were recording the concert on their cell phones. Again, the light from the cell phones are annoying just like they are in the theatre when people text message. My husband has bad knees so we politely asked the people in front of us to sit down. You would have thought we asked them for their first born. They creatively used the famous four letter word as a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, an adverb, a verb, etc. Well, you get the picture. We left. They were drunk and stupid and annoying. Not worth sitting through that. I won't go to a concert again. Waste of money. By the way, the management at the establishment, was not particularly concerned. It was the patron's right to stand up and do whatever they pleased even if it disrupted someone else's enjoyment of the event. As long as they weren't doing anything illegal, management didn't care.

Posted by: pderrenger | June 22, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

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