A Social-Psychological Analysis of Vandalism: Making Sense out of Senseless Violence
STANFORD UNIV CA DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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The thesis is advanced that the anti-social behaviors labelled as vandalism can be understood in terms of the established nature of the social transactions between the individuals perpetrating such acts and their society. Contrary to the popular notion that vandalism is senseless, mindless, or wanton behavior is the view that these acts of destructive aggression reflect a variety of rational social-psychological causes. Recognition of these antecedents and the social-political conditions which help maintain vandalism leads to strategies of behavior control not based on greater deterrents, law and order, or attributing the cause to individual deviant pathological states, but rather to improving the quality of the social-psychological environment in which we live. A field experiment is reported which suggests that conditions which promote feelings of anonymity lower inhibitions about engaging in destructive acts.