In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes of a purposeful action that are not intended or foreseen. The term was popularised in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.
Unintended consequences can be grouped into three types:
- Unexpected benefit: A positive unexpected benefit (also referred to as luck, serendipity or a windfall).
- Unexpected drawback: An unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis).
- Perverse result: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse).
Robert K. Merton
In "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action" (1936), Merton tried to apply a systematic analysis to the problem of unintended consequences of deliberate acts intended to cause social change. He emphasized that his term purposive action, "[was exclusively] concerned with 'conduct' as distinct from 'behavior.' That is, with action that involves motives and consequently a choice between various alternatives". Merton's usage included deviations from what Max Weber defined as rational social action: instrumentally rational and value rational. Merton also stated that "no blanket statement categorically affirming or denying the practical feasibility of all social planning is warranted."
More recently, the law of unintended consequences has come to be used as an adage or idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.
Possible causes of unintended consequences include the world's inherent complexity (parts of a system responding to changes in the environment), perverse incentives, human stupidity, self-deception, failure to account for human nature, or other cognitive or emotional biases. As a sub-component of complexity (in the scientific sense), the chaotic nature of the universe—and especially its quality of having small, apparently insignificant changes with far-reaching effects (e.g., the butterfly effect)—applies.
- Ignorance, making it impossible to anticipate everything, thereby leading to incomplete analysis.
- Errors in analysis of the problem or following habits that worked in the past but may not apply to the current situation.
- Immediate interests overriding long-term interests.
- Basic values which may require or prohibit certain actions even if the long-term result might be unfavourable (these long-term consequences may eventually cause changes in basic values).
- Self-defeating prophecy, or, the fear of some consequence which drives people to find solutions before the problem occurs, thus the non-occurrence of the problem is not anticipated.
The creation of "no-man's lands" during the Cold War, in places such as the border between Eastern and Western Europe, and the Korean Demilitarized Zone, has led to large natural habitats.
The sinking of ships in shallow waters during wartime has created many artificial coral reefs, which can be scientifically valuable and have become an attraction for recreational divers. Retired ships have been purposely sunk in recent years, in an effort to replace coral reefs lost to global warming and other factors.
In medicine, most drugs have unintended consequences ('side effects') associated with their use. However, some are beneficial. For instance, aspirin, a pain reliever, is also an anticoagulant that can help prevent heart attacks and reduce the severity and damage from thrombotic strokes. The existence of beneficial side effects also leads to off-label use—prescription or use of a drug for an unlicensed purpose. Famously, the drug Viagra was developed to lower blood pressure, with its use for treating erectile dysfunction being discovered as a side effect in clinical trials.
The implementation of a profanity filter by AOL in 1996 had the unintended consequence of blocking residents of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England from creating accounts due to a false positive. The accidental censorship of innocent language, known as the Scunthorpe problem, has been repeated and widely documented.
In 1990, the Australian state of Victoria made safety helmets mandatory for all bicycle riders. While there was a reduction in the number of head injuries, there was also an unintended reduction in the number of juvenile cyclists—fewer cyclists obviously leads to fewer injuries, assuming all else being equal. The risk of death and serious injury per cyclist seems to have increased, possibly due to risk compensation. Research by Vulcan, et al. found that the reduction in juvenile cyclists was because the youths considered wearing a bicycle helmet unfashionable. A health-benefit model developed at Macquarie University in Sydney suggests that, while helmet use reduces "the risk of head or brain injury by approximately two-thirds or more", the decrease in exercise caused by reduced cycling as a result of helmet laws is counterproductive in terms of net health.
Prohibition in the 1920s United States, originally enacted to suppress the alcohol trade, drove many small-time alcohol suppliers out of business and consolidated the hold of large-scale organized crime over the illegal alcohol industry. Since alcohol was still popular, criminal organisations producing alcohol were well-funded and hence also increased their other activities. Similarly, the War on Drugs, intended to suppress the illegal drug trade, instead increased the power and profitability of drug cartels who became the primary source of the products.
In CIA jargon, "blowback" describes the unintended, undesirable consequences of covert operations, such as the funding of the Afghan Mujahideen and the destabilization of Afghanistan contributing to the rise of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The introduction of exotic animals and plants for food, for decorative purposes, or to control unwanted species often leads to more harm than good done by the introduced species.
- The introduction of rabbits in Australia and New Zealand for food was followed by an explosive growth in the rabbit population; rabbits have become a major feral pest in these countries.
- Cane toads, introduced into Australia to control canefield pests, were unsuccessful and have become a major pest in their own right.
- Kudzu, introduced to the US as an ornamental plant in 1876 and later used to prevent erosion in earthworks, has become a major problem in the Southeastern United States. Kudzu has displaced native plants and has effectively taken over significant portions of land.
In 2003, Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for posting a photograph of her home online. Before the lawsuit had been filed, only 6 people had downloaded the file, two of them Streisand's attorneys. The lawsuit drew attention to the image, resulting in 420,000 people visiting the site. The Streisand Effect was named after this incident, describing when an attempt to censor or remove a certain piece of information instead draws attention to the material being suppressed, resulting in the material instead becoming widely known, reported on, and distributed.
Passenger-side airbags in motorcars were intended as a safety feature, but led to an increase in child fatalities in the mid-1990s because small children were being hit by airbags that deployed automatically during collisions. The supposed solution to this problem, moving the child seat to the back of the vehicle, led to an increase in the number of children forgotten in unattended vehicles, some of whom died under extreme temperature conditions.
Risk compensation, or the Peltzman effect, occurs after implementation of safety measures intended to reduce injury or death (e.g. bike helmets, seatbelts, etc.). People may feel safer than they really are and take additional risks which they would not have taken without the safety measures in place. This may result in no change, or even an increase, in morbidity or mortality, rather than a decrease as intended.
According to an anecdote, the British government, concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead cobra. This was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, enterprising people began breeding cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, they scrapped the reward program, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse, becoming known as the Cobra effect.
Theobald Mathew's temperance campaign in 19th-century Ireland resulted in thousands of people vowing never to drink alcohol again. This led to the consumption of diethyl ether, a much more dangerous intoxicant — due to its high flammability — by those seeking to become intoxicated without breaking the letter of their pledge.
It was thought that adding south-facing conservatories to British houses would reduce energy consumption by providing extra insulation and warmth from the sun. However, people tended to use the conservatories as living areas, installing heating and ultimately increasing overall energy consumption.
Beginning in the 1940s and continuing into the 1960s, the Canadian federal government gave the Catholic Church in Quebec $2.25 per day per psychiatric patient for their cost of care, but only $0.75 a day per orphan. The perverse result is that the orphan children were diagnosed as mentally ill so the church could receive the larger amount of money. This psychiatric misdiagnosis affected up to 20,000 people, and the children are known as the Duplessis Orphans.
There have been attempts to curb the consumption of sugary beverages by imposing a tax on them. However, a study found that the reduced consumption was only temporary. Also, there was an increase in the consumption of beer among households.
The New Jersey Childproof Handgun Law, which was intended to protect children from accidental discharge of firearms by forcing all future firearms sold in New Jersey to contain "smart" safety features, has delayed, if not stopped entirely, the introduction of such firearms to New Jersey markets. The wording of the law caused significant public backlash, fuelled by gun rights lobbyists, and several shop owners offering such guns received death threats and stopped stocking them In 2014, 12 years after the law was passed, it was suggested the law be repealed if gun rights lobbyists agree not to resist the introduction of "smart" firearms.
Televised drug prevention advertisements may lead to increased drug use.
Increasing usage of search engines, also including recent image search features, has contributed in the ease of which media is consumed. Some abnormalities in usage may have shifted preferences for pornographic film actors, as the producers began using common search queries or tags to label the actors in new roles.
The passage of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act has led to a reported increase in risky behaviors by sex workers as a result of quashing their ability to seek and screen clients online, forcing them back onto the streets or into the dark web. The ads posted were previously an avenue for advocates to reach out to those wanting to escape the trade.
Most modern technologies have negative consequences that are both unavoidable and unpredictable. For example, almost all environmental problems, from chemical pollution to global warming, are the unexpected consequences of the application of modern technologies. Traffic congestion, deaths and injuries from car accidents, air pollution, and global warming are unintended consequences of the invention and large scale adoption of the automobile. Hospital infections are the unexpected side-effect of antibiotic resistance, and even human population growth leading to environmental degredation is the side effect of various technological (i.e., agricultural and industrial) revolutions.
Because of the complexity of ecosystems, deliberate changes to an ecosystem or other environmental interventions will often have (usually negative) unintended consequences. Sometimes, these effects cause permanent irreversible changes. Examples include:
- During the Four Pests Campaign a killing of sparrows was declared. Chinese leaders later realized that sparrows ate a large amount of insects, as well as grains. Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased.
- During the Great Plague of London a killing of dogs and cats was ordered. If left untouched, they would have made a significant reduction in the rat population that carried the fleas which transmitted the disease.
- The installation of smokestacks to decrease pollution in local areas, resulting in spread of pollution at a higher altitude, and acid rain on an international scale.
- After about 1900, public demand led the US government to fight forest fires in the American West, and set aside land as national forests and parks to protect them from fires. This policy led to fewer fires, but also led to growth conditions such that, when fires did occur, they were much larger and more damaging. Modern research suggests that this policy was misguided, and that a certain level of wildfires is a natural and important part of forest ecology.
- Side effects of climate engineering to counter global warming could involve even further warming as a consequence of reflectivity-reducing afforestation or crop yield reductions and rebound effects after solar dimming measures with even more accelerated warming
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's well-intentioned attempt to save lives by providing insecticidal mosquito nets caused environmental and human destruction, as many of the villagers provided with these mosquito nets decided they were better used as fishing nets, leading to overfishing and similar noxious unintended consequences.
- Boomerang effect (psychology) – Unintended consequences of an attempt to persuade resulting in the adoption of an opposing position instead
- Collateral damage
- Dutch disease – The apparent causal relationship between the increase in the economic development of a specific sector and a decline in other sectors
- Heterogony of ends
- Ethics in mathematics – An emerging field of applied ethics
- Instrumental and value-rational action
- Knightian uncertainty – Lack of quantifiable knowledge in economics
- Map–territory relation – The relationship between an object and a representation of that object
- Moral hazard – Increases in the exposure to risk when insured, or when another bears the cost
- Parable of the broken window – Parable by French economist Frédéric Bastiat
- Rebound effect
- Parkinson's law – Work expands to fill the time available
- Story of the Chinese Farmer
- System accident
- Technology assessment – Research area dealing with trends in science and technology and related social developments
- The Rhetoric of Reaction (appearing as the "perversity thesis")
- Tragedy of the commons – Depletion of a shared resource according to one's self-interests
- Virtuous circle and vicious circle – Complex chain of events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop
- Robert K. Merton, Versatile Sociologist and Father of the Focus Group, Dies at 92, Michael T. Kaufman, The New York Times
- John Locke, The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 4.
- Smith, Adam. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". p. 93.
- "Renowned Columbia Sociologist and National Medal of Science Winner Robert K. Merton Dies at 92". Columbia News.
- Robert K. Merton Remembered Footnotes, American Sociological Association
- Merton, Robert K. (1936). "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action" (PDF). American Sociological Review. 1 (6): 894–904. doi:10.2307/2084615. JSTOR 2084615. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
- Weber, Max (1978). Economy and Society. University of California Press. pp. 24–25.
- Norton, Rob (2008). "Unintended Consequences". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Library of Economics and Liberty. ISBN 978-0865976658. OCLC 237794267.
- Schwartz, Victor E.; Tedesco, Rochelle M. "The Law of Unintended Consequences in Asbestos Litigation: How Efforts to Streamline the Litigation Have Fueled More Claims". Mississippi Law Journal. HeinOnline. 71: 531. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Mascharka, Christopher (1993-06-18). "28 Florida State University Law Review 2000–2001 Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Exemplifying the Law of Unintended Consequences Comment". Florida State University Law Review. Heinonline.org. 28: 935. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- Sims, Joe; Herman, Deborah P. "The Effect of Twenty Years of Hart-Scott-Rodino on Merger Practice: A Case Study in the Law of Unintended Consequences Applied to Antitrust Legislation". Antitrust Law Journal. HeinOnline. 65: 865. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Merton, Robert K (1996). On Social Structure and Science. The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
- Vyse, Stuart (2017). "Can Anything Save Us from Unintended Consequences?". Skeptical Inquirer. 41 (4): 20–23. Archived from the original on 2018-09-19. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "From Iron Curtain to Green Belt: How new life came to the death strip". London: Independent.co.uk. 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Kate Connolly (2009-07-04). "From Iron Curtain to Green Belt". Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "European Green Belt". European Green Belt. Archived from the original on 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary". Dnr.maryland.gov. 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Sinking ships will boost tourism, group says – News – NBC News". NBC News. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Life after death on the ocean floor – The National Newspaper". Thenational.ae. 2009-09-21. Archived from the original on 2015-05-09. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Sea Life Flourishing On Vandenberg Wreck Off Keys". cbs4.com. 2009-10-15. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "CDNN : Diver Wants to Sink Old Navy Ships off California Coast". Cdnn.info. 2006-12-27. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "BBC 15 February 2001, Aspirin heart warning". BBC News. 2001-02-15. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Clive Feather (25 April 1996). Peter G. Neumann (ed.). "AOL censors British town's name!". The Risks Digest. ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy.
- Cockburn, Craig (9 March 2010). "BBC fail – my correct name is not permitted". blog.siliconglen.com. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- Moore, Matthew (2 September 2008). "The Clbuttic Mistake: When obscenity filters go wrong". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- "F-Word Town's Name Gets Censored By Internet Filter". Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- "Evaluating Head Injuries and Helmet Laws in Australia and New Zealand".
- Cameron, Maxwell H.; Vulcan, A. Peter; Finch, Caroline F.; Newstead, Stuart V. (June 1994). "Mandatory bicycle helmet use following a decade of helmet promotion in Victoria, Australia—an evaluation". Accident Analysis and Prevention. 26 (3): 325–37. doi:10.1016/0001-4575(94)90006-X. PMID 8011045.
- de Jong. Piet (2012), "Evaluating the Health Benefit of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws", Risk Analysis, Vol.32, No.5, p.782-790.
- Juan Forero, "Colombia's Coca Survives U.S. plan to uproot it", The New York Times, August 19, 2006
- Don Podesta and Douglas Farah, "Drug Policy in Andes Called Failure," Washington Post, March 27, 1993
- Dominic Streatfeild (June 2000). "Source Material for Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography: Interview between Milton Friedman and Dominic Streatfeild". Dominicstratfeild. Archived from the original on 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "An open letter". Prohibition Costs. Archived from the original on 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Bin Laden comes home to roost". Archived from the original on December 2, 1998. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- "Blowback – 96.05". Theatlantic.com. May 1996. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- Peter Beaumont (2002-09-08). "Why 'blowback' is the hidden danger of war | World news". The Guardian. The Observer. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia". The State Barrier Fence Project. Archived from the original on 2005-07-22. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- "Rabbits: Introduction into New Zealand". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- Smithsonian Magazine Kudzu: Love It or Run
- Molly McElroy (2005). "Fast-growing kudzu making inroads in Illinois, authorities warn". News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
- Richard J. Blaustein (2001). "Kudzu's invasion into Southern United States life and culture" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
- "The Unintended Consequences of Increased Steel Tariffs on American Manufacturers". Committee on Small Business, House of Representatives, 107th United States Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office (Serial No. 107–66). July 23, 2002. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
- Francois, Dr. Joseph; Baughman, Laura M. (February 4, 2003). "The Unintended Consequences of U.S. Steel Import Tariffs: A Quantification of the Impact During 2002" (PDF). Washington DC: CITAC Foundation/Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
- Parkinson, Justin (2014-07-31). "The perils of the Streisand effect". BBC News. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- Tentative ruling, page 6, stating, "Image 3850 was download six times, twice to the Internet address of counsel for plaintiff". In addition, two prints of the picture were ordered — one by Streisand's counsel and one by Streisand's neighbor. http://www.californiacoastline.org/streisand/slapp-ruling-tentative.pdf
- Rogers, Paul (2003-06-24). "Photo of Streisand home becomes an Internet hit". San Jose Mercury News, mirrored at californiacoastline.org. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
- Canton, David (November 5, 2005). "Today's Business Law: Attempt to suppress can backfire". London Free Press. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved July 21, 2007.
The "Streisand effect" is what happens when someone tries to suppress something and the opposite occurs. The act of suppressing it raises the profile, making it much more well known than it ever would have been
- Worland/Ridgefield, Justin (2014-09-02). "Who's To Blame For Hot Car Deaths?". Time.
- "Etheromaniac". World Wide Words. 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- "Substitutions - The Temperance Movement and Ether - Unintended Consequences". Unintended Consequences. 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Our innate ability to think of new ways to use energy" Professor Tadj Oreszczyn. Summer 2009 edition of ‘palette’, UCL’s journal of sustainable cities.
- Andres, Von Brandt (1984) Fish catching methods of the world ISBN 978-0-685-63409-7.
- "The Spokesman-Review". google.com. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- "Sarasota Herald-Tribune". google.com. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- "The Prescott Courier". google.com. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- Wansink, Brian; Hanks, Andrew S.; Just, David R. (2012-05-26). "From Coke to Coors: A Field Study of a Fat Tax and Its Unintended Consequences". SSRN 2079840. Cite journal requires
- Joseph Steinberg (January 11, 2016). "Smartguns: What You Need to Know". Inc. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
- Trumbly, Katie (15 October 2014). "Why the NRA Opposes Smart Guns". Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Jeffries, Adrianne (5 May 2014). "Gun control: the NRA wants to take America's smart guns away". The Verge. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Rosenwald, Michael S. (6 March 2014). "Calif. store backs away from smart guns after outcry from 2nd Amendment activists". The Washington Post.
- Rosenwald, Michael S. (1 May 2014). "Maryland dealer, under pressure from gun-rights activists, drops plan to sell smart gun". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- Montopoli, Brian (2014-05-02). "N.J. Democrat: We will reverse smart gun law if NRA plays ball". MSNBC. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
- Kassam, Ashifa (2017-11-12). "'Dose as small as a grain of sand can kill you': alarm after Canada carfentanil bust". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
- Hornik, Robert; Jacobsohn, Lela; Orwin, Robert; Piesse, Andrea; Kalton, Graham (December 2008). "Effects of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign on Youths". American Journal of Public Health. 98 (12): 2229–2236. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.125849. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 2636541. PMID 18923126.
- Kline, Matthew. "How SEO has changed the porn industry". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
- "New Law Forces Sex-Trafficking Victims to Streets, Dark Web". 2018-05-25.
- Lynn White Jr. (1962). Medieval technology and social change. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0195002669. OCLC 390344.
- *Huesemann, Michael H.; Joyce A. Huesemann (2011). "Chapter 1, "The Inherent Unavoidability and Unpredictability of Unintended Consequences", and Chapter 2, "Some Unintended Consequences of Modern Technology"". Technofix: Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment. Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers. p. 464. ISBN 978-0865717046.
- Dikotter, Frank (2010). Mao's Great Famine. New York: Walker & Co. p. 188.
- Moote, Lloyd and Dorothy: The Great Plague: the Story of London's most Deadly Year, Baltimore, 2004. p. 115.
- Likens, G. E.; Wright, R. F.; Galloway, J. N.; Butler, T. J. (1979). "Acid rain". Sci. Am. 241 (4): 43–51. Bibcode:1979SciAm.241d..43L. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1079-43.
- Likens, G. E. (1984). "Acid rain: the smokestack is the "smoking gun". Garden. 8 (4): 12–18.
- Joyce, Christopher. "How The Smokey Bear Effect Led To Raging Wildfires". npr.org. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Vidal, John (2014-02-25). "Geoengineering side effects could be potentially disastrous, research shows". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
- Yang, Huiyi; Dobbie, Steven; Ramirez-Villegas, Julian; Feng, Kuishuang; Challinor, Andrew J.; Chen, Bing; Gao, Yao; Lee, Lindsay; Yin, Yan; Sun, Laixiang; Watson, James; Koehler, Ann-Kristin; Fan, Tingting; Ghosh, Sat (2016-11-19). "Potential negative consequences of geoengineering on crop production: A study of Indian groundnut". Geophysical Research Letters. American Geophysical Union (AGU). 43 (22): 11, 786–11, 795. Bibcode:2016GeoRL..4311786Y. doi:10.1002/2016gl071209. ISSN 0094-8276. PMC 5267972. PMID 28190903.
- "Mosquito nets: Are they catching more fishes than insects?". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
- Abuse proof prescription-painkillers may spur heroin habit
- The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action by Robert K. Merton, American Sociological Review, Vol 1 Issue 6, Dec 1936, pp. 894–904
- Unintended Consequences entry in Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
- Unintended Consequences blog
- Unintended Consequences of Green Technologies
- Mica Adriana, Peisert Arkadiusz, Winczorek Jan (eds), (2011), Sociology and the Unintended. Robert Merton Revisited, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.
- Huesemann, Michael H., and Joyce A. Huesemann (2011). Technofix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment, Chapter 1, “The Inherent Unavoidability and Unpredictability of Unintended Consequences”, Chapter 2, “Some Unintended Consequences of Modern Technology”, and Chapter 4, “In Search of Solutions I: Counter-Technologies and Social Fixes”, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada, ISBN 0865717044, 464 pp.
- Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, Vintage Books, 1997.
- Tomislav V. Kovandzic, John Sloan III, and Lynne M. Vieraitis. Unintended Consequences of Politically Popular Sentencing Policy: The Homicide-Promoting Effects of 'Three Strikes' in U.S. Cities (1980–1999). Criminology & Public Policy Vol 1, Issue 3, July 2002.
- Vulcan, A.P., Cameron, M.H. & Heiman, L., "Evaluation of mandatory bicycle helmet use in Victoria, Australia", 36th Annual Conference Proceedings, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, October 5–7, 1992.
- Vulcan, A.P., Cameron, M.H. & Watson, W.L., "Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Use: Experience in Victoria, Australia", World Journal of Surgery, Vol. 16, No. 3, (May/June 1992), pp. 389–397.
- "Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use"