RESEARCH SUMMARY DETAIL

Murals May Discourage Graffiti

Author's Title: The Mural as Graffiti Deterrence
Author(s) Name: Penelope J. Craw, Louis S. Leland Jr., Michelle G. Bussell, Simon J. Munday, and Karen Walsh
Year of Publication: 2006
Search Related Keywords: Aesthetics  Community and Public Service  Decorative Elements/Accessories/Art  Environmental Control  Neighborhood  Outdoor Space  Pedestrian Environment  Planning and Policy   Revitalization/Urban Renewal  Social Needs and Factors  Strategic Planning  Territoriality/Defensible Space  Walls 

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Design Issue
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This study investigated the effects of using a mural to deter graffiti in Dunedin, New Zealand.


  • Removal and maintenance of graffiti is costly for city councils and property owners.
  • Indirect costs associated with graffiti include higher insurance rates, increased government taxes, lower property values, a decline in patronage of area businesses, and costs affiliated with implementing graffiti prevention strategies (Callinan, 2002).
  • Graffiti is a vandalism problem in many cities throughout New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. In particular, Queenstown has recently seen an increase in graffiti.
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Design Criteria
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Author Identified:
  • Be aware that murals on the exterior of buildings may deter graffiti.

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Key Concepts
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  • On an alley wall, the section containing a mural accumulated less graffiti than the blank section. The section of the wall containing the mural did not have any graffiti until three months after its creation. The wall directly opposite the mural accumulated a considerable amount of graffiti throughout the experiment.
  • The section of the wall adjacent to the mural was marked with graffiti less than expected, indicating the mural may have deterred vandalism from the areas directly adjacent to it.
  • The cost of reducing graffiti using a mural as a deterrent was estimated at NZ$2.38 for each occurrence over the first year and NZ$0.50 for the following years.
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Research Method
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  • A control group design experiment was conducted in the center of Dunedin, New Zealand to determine if the presence of a mural affected the amount of graffiti.
  • A concrete wall with graffiti, in an alley (31.5 m) between two major shopping streets, was restored to its original paint color, and divided into three sections of approximately equal size for the experiment (Section 1, 13.4 m; Section 2, 9.8 m; Section 3, 8.3 m). Each of the sections was monitored for graffiti over three consecutive time periods.
  • During the base period, all of the sections were blank and the number of graffiti marks for each section was recorded every other day for two weeks.
  • During the intervention period, Section 3 of the wall was painted with a colorful mural of an outdoor scene containing three humanlike figures, and the number of graffiti marks for each section was recorded every other day for two weeks.
  • During the follow-up period the condition of the wall remained the same and additional graffiti marks were recorded once a month for the following three months.
  • descriptive statistics, Fisher’s exact probability tests, and a cost-benefit analysis were used to analyze the data.
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Limitations
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  • The section of the wall closest to the main street showed minimal incidences of graffiti throughout the experiment, perhaps due to the higher risk of being caught.
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Commentary
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This design criteria may only be applicable to the study location. A review of literature on murals and graffiti was included.



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Adapted From
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Author(s): Penelope J. Craw; Louis S. Leland Jr., senior lecturer, psychology; Michelle G. Bussell, M.Sc.; Simon J. Munday; and Karen Walsh, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Article Title: The Mural as Graffiti Deterrence
Publisher: Sage Publications
Publication: Environment and Behavior
Publication Type: Refereed Journal
Date of Publication: 2006
ISSN: 00139165
Volume: 38
Issue: 3
Pages: 422-434