Disorder Breeds Discrimination
Listen to our interview with Siegwart Lindenberg here.
UPDATE: Since broadcasting this story, Dutch scientist Diederik Stapel has admitted to fabricating data in dozens of published studies. Among the possibly tainted reports was one which we reported on here. The World’s Rhitu Chatterjee updated this story on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011.
Lindenberg is a cognitive sociologist at Tilburg University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He studies how our physical surroundings shape our thoughts and behaviors, and he joined us as a guest in this Science Forum discussion.
If an urban environment is covered with graffiti, are people more likely to litter? If there is litter on the ground, are people more likely to steal? Lindenberg has conducted controlled experiments of these questions and found that the answer is yes. Continue Reading ...
In a new study published in the journal Science, Lindenberg and colleague Diederik Stapel investigated whether littered and disordered surroundings promote stereotyping. They asked Caucasian train passengers at a railway station in Utrecht to take a survey about their views of Muslims, homosexuals, and the Dutch.
At a time when the railway’s cleaning crew was on strike and the station was a mess, passengers were far more likely to express strong stereotypes than when the station was clean and orderly. During the strike, white passengers were also less likely to sit near a passenger who was black.
See photos from Lindenberg’s study in the slide show below.
(For captions, open the slide show in a new window and click on ‘Show Info’)
Lindenberg believes his study has clear policy implications: “Diagnose environmental disorder early and intervene immediately” to promote social cohesiveness.
Read what people had to say. Feel free to add your own thoughts:
- Do you agree with Lindenberg’s policy recommendation?
- If you found a wallet on a dirty downtown street, would you keep the money? Would you do the same if you found the wallet in a clean, upscale neighborhood?
- How do your physical surroundings shape your views of other people?