The broken glass theory is a refutation of the saying that one time does not make a difference. Once something happens, something happens. This theory has been put forward in relation to crime. But you can also apply the same logic to bilateral relationships or everyday events. In the end, the logic leads to the same place.
The American psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment in 1969. The study took place in an area with a high crime rate and low financial status, and in an area with a very low crime rate and high financial status. He left a car without license plates and with the hood slightly ajar in both areas. After 3 days, they see that the car has been completely looted in the bad area, while it remains the same in the good area. The experimenter then breaks the windows of the car in the good area and does some damage. After that, they observe that the car in the good area is damaged. The result of this experiment is that the first window is expected to break. If the first window is broken, others will not hesitate to break it.
What is the broken glass theory? This is the answer to the question. Once you grasp this logic, you adjust your perspective on other events accordingly. In later years, other psychologists said that if you fix the broken glass, there will be no problem. If you leave the broken glass like that, someone else will break it. But if you fix it immediately, there will be no problem.
It is the same in bilateral relationships. When you tell about your broken window, nobody cares about it anymore. If you don’t fix your shortcomings, irregularities and minor disruptions and tell someone about them, they may come back to haunt you one day. It is best to fix them if you can and don’t tell anyone about your broken glass.
Broken Glass Theory in Psychology
The broken glass theory in psychology is compromise. If you compromise with a person for something, it will come. Even if they say it won’t, it will come after the glass is broken. The same is true even for yourself. Don’t compromise even with yourself once. Don’t say that one time can’t hurt. If you smoke once, more will come. If you break your diet once, more will follow. This theory applies everywhere in life.
In New York City in those years, this was taken very seriously. Broken windows were repaired and even petty crimes were pursued. Because even if it was a minor offense, the idea that whoever did it would be inclined to commit another crime was justified. For example, those who tried to get on the subway without a ticket were caught. Because a person who has tasted this crime easily may be tempted to commit another crime in the future. For this reason, even those who tried to get on the subway illegally were taken and prosecuted.
Broken Glass Theory Example
You went out to throw garbage and couldn’t see the garbage container. So you left the garbage at the foot of the lamppost. Even if the street was clean before that, a few days later you can see that everyone has left garbage at the base of that pole. You broke the first window and so on. When someone saw that it was left there, someone else left it there, then someone else, and so on. It will continue to be left there until you remove it completely.
It turns out that this theory works in all walks of life. For example, if a restaurant runs out of toilet paper and they don’t replace it, it shows that they don’t care about the customer. If this happens, the customer thinks that the food is not made with care. The desire to eat there another time goes away and the restaurant’s profits drop. In fact, a very small omission can have big consequences through thoughts.
An example is when a cafe employee treats a customer badly. Because if he treats her badly, if you have seen that first gesture, your brain thinks that he might treat you the same way and you don’t want to go there again. The same applies to all businesses.