It’s amazing how appearances affect our behavior. Edi Rama, an artist and the former mayor of the capital of Albania gave an inspiring TED talk about transforming his city by adding color to old buildings and improving public spaces. Streets that used to be crime ridden became safer because they looked nicer. People are less likely to litter on clean, well groomed streets than streets already covered in dirty, covered in rubble, and broken windows. Shop owners and residents regain their pride and are protective of their neighborhood.
It’s amazing how this concept extends to so many areas. Rama tells a story of combating corruption, again, using the tool of appearances. By improving a government building from a shack with a dark hole to a well-lit building with face to face interactions with officials it reduced the frequency of bribes. And a little closer to personal experience – when my office’s kitchen sink has a few dirty dishes laying about everyone feels like they can add to the pile, but as long as the sink is clean people tend to wash their own.