The Epidemic Theory of Integrity

The Epidemic Theory of Integrity

The Epidemic Theory of Integrity is a reverse application of the Broken Window Theory of Corruption, also known as the Epidemic Theory of Corruption, which is based from the Broken Window Theory developed by James Wilson and George Kelling and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his bestselling book Tipping Point (2007).

If corruption, just like crimes and other deviant behavior, has the capacity to be contagious, the reverse is also true. Thus, integrity can have a contagious effect to people who can consciously and deliberately become the instruments
(or epidemics carriers) to spread the same. This theory reinforces the positive effects of role models, who are effectively emulated by many others. By simple emulation, people create positive influence and spread integrity. Single acts of integrity pulsate and radiate as positive energies, and together they cumulate to influence others and create stirring movements in the environment, just like ripples in the oceans. As poetically described by the activist Cal Montgomery, "ripples move out from the center, meeting other ripples that build into waves."

The writers Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are more elaborate: "In the vastness of the ocean, is any drop of water greater than another? No single drop has the ability to cause a tidal wave. But, I argue, if a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps - who knows - these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore. Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do - insignificant as it may seem - spread out beyond us. We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus, we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures. For, if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events - for good or evil."

The rippling, foaming and waving processes are the building blocks that make epidemics possible. These are positive epidemics happening through spreading and increasing people's acts of integrity. And by so doing, the epidemic of corruption is challenged, tempered, reduced and effectively altered. The widespread scourge of anomalies and irregularities are reversed by a groundswell of honorable and just acts.

Robert Kennedy was very provocative when he said during his time: "Each time a man stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

INSIGHTS: How do we spread the epidemic of integrity? It is important, before anything else, to declare a personal code of honor and conduct, and decide to live a just and honest life, as much as possible. Pronounce to resist corruption, and try not to be involved in whatever anomalies. Always espouse reform, and even err on its side. Try to be hopeful and inspiring amidst skepticism and sarcasm. Heed the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Exercise self-restraint. Be drawn towards fidelity and faithfulness. And be in the company of good and honorable men and women. Inspire people to do something! And so it is likewise important to nurture an inspired life in the service of integrity, for what cultivates integrity nurtures human dignity. Thus, make single acts of integrity every day, and become the person worth emulating. This sets the epidemic in motion!


Gladwell, Malcolm. 2000. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference. USA: Little Brown.

The Tipping Point at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point

Broken Window Theory at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixing_Broken_Windows