We Are Our Environment Essay

1215 WordsSep 16, 20125 Pages
The theory of “The Power of Context” states that tipping points can be avoided, or even prevented, by solving or repairing much smaller problems that often serve as a leadup to the bursting of the proverbial bubble. Individuals are truly affected, consciously or otherwise, by minuscule details and factors that exist in their daily environment. These factors shape the way that citizens of a specific community see their roles as individuals in society. On the other hand, there are undoubtedly many other more profound and essential background-related issues that shape an individual and his or her behavior in society. Malcolm Gladwell’s essay entitled “The Power of Context” proves, in my opinion, that both sides of the Tipping Point debate have a great deal to do with the affects of an area’s Power of Context on most people, with respect to individual agency. Each and every one of the experiments that Gladwell analyzes in depth in his essay “The Power of Context” highlights the effective outcome of people’s exposure to various small, seemingly insignificant factors which make up a certain environment in a community when combined. If you take a reasonably psychologically healthy person, one who has had minimal negative experiences in their past, and place them in an insupportable environment, as in the Stanford University mock prison experiment led by Phillip Zimbardo, their inherently good behavior can be perverted solely by the pressures of this new and hostile setting. Gladwell writes, “Zimbardo’s conclusion was that there are specific situations so powerful that they can overwhelm our inherent predispositions” (161). He goes on to state that the key word in the previous statement is “situations.” It is not that someone must be evil by nature in order to behave badly in any given situation, yet the overwhelmingly intimidating atmosphere that one may be exposed to
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