1932

Abstract

Broken windows theory (BWT) has heavily influenced social science and policy over the past 30 years. It posits that disorder in neighborhoods leads to elevated crime by inviting additional criminal activity and by discouraging the positive social behavior that prevents crime. Scholars have debated the veracity of BWT, and here we conduct a meta-analysis of 96 studies to examine the effects of disorder on residents’ () general proclivities for aggressive behavior and () perceptions of and attitudes toward their neighborhood (e.g., fear of crime), with particular attention to aspects of research design that might confound causal inference. We found no consistent evidence that disorder induces greater aggression or more negative attitudes toward the neighborhood. Studies that found such effects disproportionately utilized weaker research designs that omit key correlates or confound perceptions of disorder with other neighborhood attitudes. We explore implications for theory, research, and policy.

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2019-01-13
2024-05-25
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