Behavior nudge graffiti


Walking up a long set of stairs into a hilltop neighborhood in downtown Amman off of a high-traffic main street, one’s entry into the neighborhood is narrated by a litany of graffiti apparently meant to define “acceptable” or “encouraged” behaviors there around waste disposal. By design, these graffiti all face “outwards” – oriented so as to be read by all people entering the neighborhood more than than those already within the neighborhood who are on their way out of it.


Unlike some of the other wall-based writings along this staircase (math problems?), these seem more professionally done, using both multiple colors of paint, word-stencils for clearer writing, and iconography. Notable also that these are all in Arabic, despite the fact that I wouldn’t presume that our team was the first group of non-locals to ever venture up these stairs. Based upon the orientation and language, whose behavior are these graffiti meant to influence?


Despite this set of environmental messaging around what not to do with one’s waste, there was a lack of the sort of trash receptacles referenced in the signage. Whoever had the idea to spray these up in the first place may have had strong personal preferences around urban cleanliness, but perhaps not the resources or motivations to provide the tools to help people realize the behaviors she or he is asking them to perform.

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