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447: Lock it Up

Did you lock your house growing up?


Full episode script

It’s a story that a surprising number of people who grew up in small towns — or people who wish that they would live in small towns — will often repeat or discuss. That a house or neighborhood or place to live is so safe that you don’t even have to lock your door.

I know that when my family went on vacations growing up, the process of actually locking up the house had a “scavenger hunt” style feel to it. Why? Because figuring out how to even lock some of the doors in our house was a once-every-few-years affair.

In 2010, in an article entitled “The No Lock People,” the New York Times talked to many people who not only had a history of not locking their doors, but continued to not lock the doors. Quote:

A 2008 survey by State Farm Insurance of 1,000 homes across the country reported that fewer than half of those surveyed always locked their front doors. And while people who habitually lock their doors are incredulous that others do not, those who don’t lock are surprised that anyone would be shocked by it.

In 2014, the Huffington Post teamed up with YouGov to do a poll on who leaves their doors unlocked, thanks to a break-in at the White House that was as simple as someone jumping the fence and going through an unlocked door. Quote:

Though non-lockers are rare across all demographic groups, some Americans are more likely than others to go lock-free. For example, 12 percent of Americans age 65 and over, but only 4 percent of those under 30, generally don’t lock their doors when they go out, with other age groups falling in between.

So – with competing statistics, is it really half of all people that leave their doors unlocked, or a much lower percentage? Either way, there’s some very intriguing psychology going in to the idea of locking or unlocking doors — especially since those who are most likely to take the most extreme measures against break-ins with complex door locks and security systems — are also those that are least likely to be robbed in the first place. And logic, more often than not, plays very little into the emotional decisions we make.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.