Behavior Change Symposium Overview
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Behavior Change Symposium Overview

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In October of 2011, KAB held a recycling behavior change symposium with academics and practitioners. This is an overview for many of the presentations.

In October of 2011, KAB held a recycling behavior change symposium with academics and practitioners. This is an overview for many of the presentations.

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  • In October 2011, KAB convened key stakeholders within the recycling community to examine behavior-based scientific research and explore social marketing strategies for increasing recycling participation. Through a series of topics and panelists, information was shared regarding:-Current research & knowledge base about what we know influences individuals to recycle and recycle more-General information about social marketing approaches and case studies-Methods and approaches for diverse audiences-Approaches for influencing recycling participation through behavior change
  • Our first day included some great national, academic speakers. I will be giving you a brief synopsis for many of these presentations. I will also have a resource list at the end of this presentation so you can read more from these experts.The State of Recycling: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be Jerry Powell, Editor, Resource Recycling Magazine From Niche to Normal - Bridging the Gap Between Intent and Action Meghan Campbell, Contributing Strategist, Ogilvy Earth Social Marketing Approaches to Making Recycling Second Nature Dr. Craig Lefebvre, Ph.D., Chief Maven, socialShiftPromoting Recycling Behavior: What Works Dr. P. Wesley Schultz, PhD., Professor of Psychology, California State University San Marcos
  • Our second day was full of excellent case studies. I will only highlight a few of the speakers in this presentation, but again, a resource list will be available at the end.Carrots and Sticks Promoting Recycling: Incentive Based Approaches and Behavioral Responses John Thogersen, Professor of Economic Psychology, Aarhus University, Denmark Recycling Incentives, Participation, Attitudes and Social Marketing: What Do Real Numbers Tell Us? Lisa Skumatz, Principal, SERARound Red Pegs, Square Blue HolesGood" Recycling: Self-Motivated, Correct, Reliable Carol Werner, Professor of Psychology, University of UtahSocial Recycling Challenge Dan Gilbert, Greenopolis/RecycleBankSocial Marketing Research: How Planning Can Lead to a Successful Communications Program Regan Hill, Research Director, The Advertising CouncilCOMMUNITY CASE STUDIESHartford Recycling: Urban Challenges and Opportunities Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, Assistant to the Director of Public Works, Hartford, CTUsing Social Marketing to Push Recycling to the Next Level in King County Julie Colehour, Principal, Colehour+Cohen30 Years Young - The Enduring Strength of Curbside Recycling in Ontario, Canada Lyle Clark, VP Operations, Stewardship Ontario
  • Our first speaker was Jerry Powell from Resource Recycling.
  • Jerry set the stage for us. Clearly we have made recycling progress. 63% of Americans have a curbside program. But rates have flattened.
  • Due to Chinese demand for our material, we are changing the way our recycling programs operate.
  • According to Jerry, this is what we know and what he thinks will happen in the future:1. Expansion of recycling collection programs will continue2. Large hub-and-spoke single stream MRFs will be builtRaise your hand if you are in a single stream community.3. Demand will exceed supply and prices will remain above average4. Consolidation of recycling services will continueRaise your hand if your collection service is currently contracted to the private sector.5. Recycling in the U.S. is not yet sustainable6. We need more and better recycling participantsThis final point is what we focused on in the remainder of the symposium.
  • Megan Campbell then spoke from OgilvyEarth. They approached their research in a way that helpedtriangulate to the truth. The very premise for this study is that people’s stated values and intentions do not mirror their actions. Thus, they needed to come at the issue from all angles, pulling together insights from industry experts and secondary research, as well as our direct questioning and observation of consumers, all the while keeping these four major questions in mind:Who’s Green and who’s not?What separates the doers from the mere believers and the skeptics?Why does the gap exist?What are the secrets to closing the gap?
  • This is a chart of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At the Symposium there was a lot of discussion around this idea of social needs - how people need to feel accepted and need a sense of belonginess and how social norms can be an effective way to change behavior. I’ll touch on that topic more in a subsequent presentation but I thought this chart was a nice way to think about it.From Wikipedia - According to Maslow, people have lower order needs that in general must be fulfilled before high order needs can be satisfied: 'five sets of needs - physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization'. Maslow's hierarchy of needs begins with the most basic necessities deemed "the physiological needs" in which the individual will seek out items like food and water, and must be able to perform basic functions such as breathing and sleeping. Once these needs have been met, a person can move on to fulfilling "the safety needs", where they will attempt to obtain a sense of security, physical comforts and shelter, employment, and property. The next level is "the belongingness and love needs", where people will strive for social acceptance, affiliations, a sense of belongingness and being welcome, sexual intimacy, and perhaps a family. Next are "the esteem needs", where the individual will desire a sense of competence, recognition of achievement by peers, and respect from others.
  • The full Ogilvy Earth report has lots of great information. Megan focused on a few tips in her presentation that I have put in bold. I will highlight a couple now. These should be gentle reminders for you when building a recycling program or campaign.Number 1 touched on this idea again of making the behavior seem “normal” as if everyone is doing it. She also touched on the idea of incentives, both positive and negative. I’ll discuss those in more detail in a subsequent presentation. At the Symposium, there was a lively discussion around #9. When we asked Americans if being Green was more masculine or feminine, 82% said feminine. Megan challenged the audience to think about turning eco-friendly behaviors into male-ego behaviors. The example she gave was of the Tesla vs. Leaf cars.Raise your hand if you know of these 2 cars? Another example might be cloth bags.
  • I love this final slide from Ogilvy Earth. It is true. We need to embrace the middle 60% to create massive change.
  • Ogilvy Earth put all these results in a report titled “Mainstream Green”. It can be downloaded from the internet. I will provide all resource links at the end.
  • Craig is a real thought provoking person. What this slide says to me is we need to be careful with what lessons we learn from commercial marketing. It has it’s good parts and bad.
  • Craig quotes Melanie Healey, president of P&G’s feminine and healthcare operations “Brands must be ‘purpose-driven’ and have a clear sense of the role they play in the lives of consumers”.We need to think the same way. What role does recycling play in someone’s life? Is it functional? Yes. Is it experiential? Yes. Can it be expressive? For some. Is it emotional? Also, again for some. Our super-greens from the Ogilvy Earth project would probably say yes.
  • The traditional marketing approach assumes all people are alike, therefore, you can create one approach for everyone and you will target the “general public”. If you segment your audience, you assume people are different and then create different approaches for different groups. Part of social marketing involves understanding the barriers to a behavior. So if your target audience is a mom, what are her barriers? What would be the recycling barriers for a retiree? What about a college student?A lot of research has been done by national organizations to gain a better understanding of the different barriers. We can make some assumptions that maybe moms are busy and create a lot of on-the-go recyclables. Retirees who have maybe been recycling for 30 years are confused about the new single-stream process. And one group that I have researched quite a bit are college students. They just honesty forget to recycle.With the segmented approach, you break your audience up into similar groups and tailor the program or message to each group. For those that will participate in the recycling program if others in the mall participate, you need to provide them with information regarding other retailers involved, the various possible corporate partners providing bins and any possible laws that would affect their participation.For those that think recycling is a waste of money, you can show the economic benefits associated with it and talk about job creation.Some folks just don’t know when, where, why and how to recycle. Provide them with posters for their warehouse or employee training manuals. Easy, quick, pre-made material. For the individual that doesn’t think one can or bottle makes a difference, you can discuss markets and tell them stories about how volume and buying recycled dictates if a commodity is recycled.Think about using this audience segmentation approach.
  • The authors of Fostering Sustainable Behavior recommend conducting literature reviews, focus groups, observational studies and surveys or polls to learn more about your audience and how best to communicate with them. The four most common reasons for skipping barrier identification include:-The belief that the barriers are already known,-Time pressures,-Financial constraints, and-Management that doesn’t support the research. It is important to not let these barriers stop you from doing some research. In the end it will save you a considerable amount of time. Research doesn’t have to cost a ton of money either – there are many inexpensive methods you can use to get the results you are looking for.
  • Here is another thought provoking slide from Craig regarding benefits. What lessons can we learn from this and use?
  • Focused on people, their wants and needs, aspirations, lifestyle, dignity of choiceAggregated behavior change – priority segments of the population, not individuals, are the focus of programsDesigning behaviors that fit their reality (compatibility)Rebalancing incentives and costs for maintaining or changing behaviors (relative advantage and risk)Creating opportunities and access to try, practice and sustain behaviors (trialability)Promoting these behaviors, incentives and opportunities to priority groups(communicability)
  • A commercial marketing tactic is the 4 P’s. ProductPricePlace PromotionHow many of you have heard of these before?
  • Here is an example of how the 4 P’s might relate to recycling. This is a good example of how convenience relates to recycling along with other marketing options like America Recycles Day or a Public Service Announcement.
  • Helping people make better choices.Enable – make it easier. We need to help people make responsible choices by providing them with the education, skills and information, and by making those choices easy with easily accessible alternatives and suitable infrastructure.  Encourage – send the right signals. These might include taxes or other ways of giving price signals, peer pressure, league tables, funding, or regulation. We should also consider scope for positive incentives to reward good behavior rather than penalties.  Engage – get people involved. This can work best if people affected are involved early on – developing policies jointly – an approach known as co-production Exemplify – lead by example. Government can bring about huge changes in the wider society both in its own operations and through consistent policymaking. Research shows that information alone rarely changes people’s behavior and that short-term communication campaigns alone are insufficient. Targeted communications should be part of a larger process of involving the public, coordinated with other interventions such as regulation, and having the right goods, services, and infrastructure.  In order to evaluate and share what works best in practice we are establishing a “behaviour change” forum across Government departments and other stakeholders. This will enable behaviour change to be better understood among policy makers; help behaviour-based policies to be more successful through greater policy coherence and evaluation; and promote understanding of behaviour change as a core policy skill.
  • Craig has a book currently available that is a summation of many of his best blog posts. I will provide you with his blog url at the end also.
  • Wes Schultz gave a great overview to also set the stage on the first day. He is a professor at California State University San Marcos.
  • Many of you have heard about community based social marketing so I won’t go over this slide much. Let’s just keep in mind that we want to find out what the barriers and benefits are to our desired behavior as we’ve talked about before.
  • Wes found some really good recent data from Osbaldiston (KY) regarding what works and what doesn’t work to increase recycling behavior. As we all know convenience increases recycling rates. It is no surprise that is number 1. The next couple of useful strategies identified include cognitive dissonance. Leon Festingercreated the Cognitive Dissonance Theory. In his own words, he quickly sums up this quite complex theory: "If you change a person’s behavior, his thoughts and feelings will change to minimize the dissonance“. Festinger believed that humans have a deep abiding need in their psyche to be consistent in our attitudes and behaviors; we want to feel in agreement and unified in thought and action. So it was Festinger’s view that when we feel a disharmony, or dissonance, within ourselves, between two factors, we strive to decrease this tension by either changing our original thought, giving strength to the opposing thought, or letting go of the behavior. ABSTRACTTo provide practitioners with useful information about how to promote proenvironmental behavior (PEB), a metaanalysis was performed on 87 published reports containing 253 experimental treatments that measured an observed, not selfreported, behavioral outcome. Most studies combined multiple treatments, and this confounding precluded definitive conclusions about which individual treatments are most effective. Treatments that included cognitive dissonance, goal setting, social modeling, and prompts provided the overall largest effect sizes (Hedge’s g > 0.60). Further analyses indicated that different treatments have been more effective for certain behaviors. Although average effect sizes are based on small numbers of studies, effective combinations of treatments and behaviors are making it easy to recycle, setting goals for conserving gasoline, and modeling home energy conservation. The results also reveal several gaps in the literature that should guide further research, including both treatments and PEB that have not been tested.Osbaldiston & Schott (2011)Review of behavioral science40 years of data on proenvironmental253 experimental treatments (primarily recycling, conservation)10 types of treatmentsDifferentiated public recycling, curbside recycling, central recycling
  • To sum up this slide, and kind-of set the stage for future slides, we all know that increasing knowledge will not typically result in behavior change. So we must do more.
  • Pledges and commitments, which we wholly embrace at KAB via the America Recycles Day pledge, are great if they are public and durable and are very specific in nature. Raise your hand if you promote and/or participate in the ARD pledge program?
  • There was a lot of talk about incentives at the Symposium. I’ll have some other slides with more detail about that strategy.
  • As I pointed out earlier, convenience is so important in improving recycling rates. Unfortunately this often costs money. However, Wes highlighted a few infrastructure based things on this slide that could make a big difference and cost little. How many of you have tried to test things like moving an event recycling bin from one location to another to see if it gets better usage? Putting up a sign to decrease confusion?These are all things we could and should be testing daily to see if participation will increase, even if we can’t afford, more – new – fancy bins.
  • My idea of signage is similar to a “prompt”. We know that a positive message is better than negative. We know that the sign should be near the behavior you want to encourage. We know that it should be kept very simple.
  • There is a great book by Cialdini called “Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion”. Wes spoke about this book and it’s theories. The chapters in the book are:Reciprocation Commitment and ConsistencySocial ProofsLikingAuthorityScarcityFor reciprocity, why do you think we give someone a promotional item? It could be a prompt but it also makes the person feel indebted to you. It is then easier to ask them to do something.Again we see the idea of commitment and norms reappear.
  • Wes had a slide on norms. These are my favorite thing because I think they have real ability to cause change.Wes conducted an experiment with 600 curbside recycling households over an 8 week period. He had a baseline for 4 weeks, an intervention for 4 weeks and a follow-up for 4 weeks. He had a control group, a group that only got standard recycling information (how and why to recycle) and a group that got normative feedback. The normative feedback would be a message that said something like “The house next to you collected x pounds of recyclable material last week”. Well you can imagine that this type of information gets neighbors motivated.
  • So this chart shows the results. Very little recycling increase in the control group. Some increase from those that just received information only but quite a jump for those that got the normative feedback. Remember we all want to keep up with the “Jones”.
  • Wes has co-authored this wonderful book with DougMcKensie-Mohr and others. I highly recommend it.
  • The Symposium then got high-tech. We Skyped with a professor in Denmark.
  • John talked with us about the use of economic incentives. You can see, on the positive side regarding incentives, we would get the intended result with an incentive. On the negative side, we might instigate cheating or avoidance of the activity all together. This is a concern with Recycle-Bowl, our K-12 school recycling competition that has prizes. Raise your hand if you have heard of this program?One of the non-intended results (or signal effects) on the positive side would be that others conform due to social norms. However, one of the non-intended negative results could be motivation crowding out, which I will describe next.
  • Motivation crowding out, due to a large or over valued incentive, might undermine the intrinsic motivation for that person to do the behavior. Intrinsic motivation refers to initiating an activity for its own sake because it is interesting and satisfying in itself, as opposed to doing an activity to obtain an external goal (extrinsic motivation). As an example, for Recycle-Bowl, we want the $1000 statewide prize to motivate schools to participate but we don’t want that to be the only reason they participate. The individual will then non sustain the behavior over time. This is of course what concerns many folks about incentives. What happens when you remove the incentive?
  • The goal is for one to internalize the extrinsic motivation, thus attempting to transform itinto personally endorsed values.Prescriptive norms are unwritten rules that are understood and followed by society. They state what we should do. Everyone does these every day without thinking about them. But just because we do them, they might not be internalized. They are designed to influence individuals to voluntarily engage in the behavior. An example would be preventing crime by securing windows and locking doors. We are advised to do it but it is not required.
  • Can a regulation or negative incentive such as Pay as you Throw enhance internalized motivation?Yes if, They recycle more, not just because it would cost more to throw it away, but because they find it interesting and satisfying.This could be accomplished if we decrease their cognitive dissonance or strengthen their social and personal norms.
  • In conclusion, under realistic and not uncommon conditions the motivational impacts of a (small) economic incentive can boost its effect on behavior. Households in municipalities with a pay-by-weight scheme deliver more of their recyclable materials to recycling.A substantial share of the effect of the incentive scheme is conducted through perceived self-efficacy and personal norms.
  • Lisa had a great chart showing the results of different interventions. She requested we not publish the chart but I brought some to hand out and pass around.
  • JulieColehour provided us with a great case study out of Seattle.
  • Their research showed that 94% of people said they recycled everything they could, yet 50% of what was in garbage cans was recyclable. Their key findings were:People know what can and can’t be recycledItems generated outside the kitchen were more likely to end up in the garbageItems with the ick factor often ended up in the garbageFamilies with a recycling champion did a better job of recyclingTheir slogan was Recycle More. It’s Easy To Do.
  • So they used prompts, norms and incentives in their strategy.
  • And as with all good social marketing campaigns you want to measure before and after you implement your intervention. Seattle saw an increase in recycling after the strategies were implemented.


  • 1. Keep America BeautifulRe: Psychology Symposium 2011 Overview Kelley Dennings
  • 2. Goals• Hear current research about what influences individuals to recycle• Receive information about social marketing approaches and case studies• Gain an understanding of approaches for diverse audiences• Learn about influencing recycling participation
  • 3. Day 1 Agenda• The State of Recycling Jerry Powell, Resource Recycling Magazine• From Niche to Normal Meghan Campbell, Ogilvy Earth• Social Marketing Approaches to Making Recycling Second Nature Dr. Craig Lefebvre, Ph.D., socialShift• Promoting Recycling Behavior Dr. P. Wesley Schultz, PhD., California State University San Marcos
  • 4. Day 2 Agenda• Incentive Based Approaches and Behavioral Responses John Thogersen, Aarhus University, Denmark• Recycling Incentives, Participation, Attitudes and Social Marketing Lisa Skumatz, SERA• Using Social Marketing to Push Recycling to the Next Level in King County Julie Colehour, Colehour+Cohen
  • 5. Jerry Powell – Resource RecyclingThe State of Recycling: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be
  • 6. What we know1. Expansion of recycling collection programs will continue2. Large hub-and-spoke single stream MRFs will be built3. Demand will exceed supply and prices will remain above average4. Consolidation of recycling services will continue5. Recycling in the U.S. is not yet sustainable6. We need more and better recycling participants
  • 7. Meghan Campbell – OgilvyEarthFrom Niche to Normal - Bridging the Gap Between Intent and Action
  • 8. The massive Middle Green Followers Mainstream consumers Believe in living sustainably Do a few green actions
  • 9. Half of Americans thinkgreen products are targeted to:
  • 10. Reminders1. Make it normal – normal is sustainable2. Make it personal3. Create better defaults4. Eliminate the sustainability tax5. Bribe shamelessly6. Punish wisely7. Don’t stop innovating8. Lose the crunch9. Turn eco friendly into male ego friendly10. Make it tangible and easy to navigate11. Tap into hedonism over altruism
  • 11. Would you rather …Cure cancer Save the environment U.S.
  • 12. Would you rather …Cure cancer Save the environment China
  • 13. Taking a page out of the cancer marketing playbookPersonal “One out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.”Plausible “We’ve cured other diseases before, why not cancer?”Positive
  • 14. Craig Lefebvre - socialShiftSocial Marketing Approaches toMaking Recycling Second Nature
  • 15. Why we are here
  • 16. What do people want?
  • 17. Selection and Concentration
  • 18. BenefitsPeople do not buy products or services, they buy benefits.We make purchases not for the products themselves, but forthe problems they solve or the opportunities they offer.
  • 19. Barriers and BenefitsI’m less interested in “benefit”, of the rational or emotional kind.I’m more interested in power.I’m interested in how your brand makes the customer a more powerful entity.Nobody cares about your whiter-than- white laundry detergent. They care about power. The sooner you stop pretending otherwise, the easier your path through life will be.– Hugh McLeod
  • 20. What is Social Marketing? Focused on people, their wants and needs, aspirations, lifestyle, dignity of choice Aggregated behavior change – priority segments of the population, not individuals, are the focus of programs Designing behaviors that fit their reality (compatibility) Rebalancing incentives and costs for maintaining or changing behaviors (relative advantage and risk) Creating opportunities and access to try, practice and sustain behaviors (trialability) Promoting these behaviors, incentives and opportunities to priority groups (communicability)
  • 21. Marketing Mix
  • 22. The 4 P’s of Commercial Marketing - Product – anything needing to be recycled - Price – time to separate material, cost of bin or collection - Place – bins - curb, work, away from home - Promotion – traditional marketing, new media, community based social marketing
  • 23. Helping People Make Better Choices
  • 24. Wes Schultz –California State University San MarcosPromoting Recycling Behavior: What Works
  • 25. John Thogersen –Aarhus University, Denmark Promoting Recycling: Incentive Based Approaches and Behavioral Responses
  • 26. Lisa Skumatz – SERARecycling Incentives, Participation, Attitudes and Social Marketing: What Do Real Numbers Tell Us?
  • 27. Julie Colehour – Colehour+Cohen Using Social Marketing to PushRecycling to the Next Level in King County
  • 28. Resources1. Resource Recycling – http://www.resource- OgilvyEarth report – research/3. Craig Lefebvre blog – Community Based Social Marketing – Social Marketing to protect the environment –
  • 29. Thank you! Questions? Kelley