On the Role of First Graffito in the Emergence of More Vandalism

Laleh Sheivandi, Ali Taghinezhad, Zahra Bazyar, Sayed Javad Tabaeifard


This article focused strictly on how a total number of one hundred collective textual memoranda provoke people to add to previous vandalism in Iranian culture. The study was guided by Wilson and Kellingʼs (1982) theory of Broken Window.  In the main, collective written evidence was collected based on Broken Window Theory (BWT) suggesting that signs of disorderly and petty criminal behavior trigger more disorderly and petty criminal behavior, thus causing the behavior to spread. BWT gives no insight into what is and what is not a condition of disorder that will spread. As part of the scrutiny process, this study focused on the ways different messages were presented by means of graffiti and the ways they had aroused the others to write or paint graffiti following the first one. To do so, 413 graffiti (first graffito and responses) scribed on different surfaces in Iran were studied and categorized according to Gadsbyʼs Taxonomy (1995) and Blumeʼs (1985) two major classifications of motivations beneath graffiti. 219 related graffiti and 194 non-related graffiti in the groups were found. The data analysis demonstrated that people would add to previous vandalism either they wanted to discuss the same issue or just wanted to write something. The largest collective group contained 26 graffiti to the extent of a wall in bathroom of a university. Furthermore, the results revealed that when people observed that others violated a certain social norm or a legitimate rule, they were more likely to violate norms or rules, which caused disorder to spread.


Graffiti, Broken Window theory, Gadsbyʼs Taxonomy, Blumeʼs classifications

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