Longevity and Recycling: The Effect of Existence Bias on Recycling Participation Jordan Schanda Department of Psychology THE RECYCLING AD FINDINGS PREVIOUS RESEARCH SUSTAINABILITY Psychology can offer insight into the Everyday habits and decisions are havingmechanisms that drive environmental a large impact on climate change; however,consciousness, as well as provide techniques it seems that these routine behaviors are thefor increasing participation in proenvironmental most difficult to challenge. Recycling is abehaviors, such as recycling. Research on fairly simple behavior that has the potentialexistence bias has demonstrated an increased to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fromtendency for people to choose or prefer many sources including methane fromsomething merely as a function of its existence A three-way ANOVA revealed a significant landfills and emissions produced by wasteor longevity; I believe this could serve as an effect for gender. Across conditions, males incinerators.effective way to drive environmentally recycled at a higher rate (45.5%) whenconscious behavior. Previous research Based on my research, existence bias compared to females (22.5%). cannot be added to the list of techniques fordemonstrates that gender plays a significantrole in environmentalism, and specifically, that encouraging proenvironmental behavior. Above is the ad used in the short time in However, contingent on further research,women report higher levels of participation in existence condition. Participants in the long informing men of a recycling program’sproenvironmental behavior compared to men. condition saw the same ad, but it claimed “newness,” as conveyed by a short time inOther research shows that behavior can be that “the university’s well-established existence, could lead to increasedpredicted from issue-specific attitudes. For recycling program is in its third decade of participation in recycling by men.example, if trying to influence or predict operation.”recycling behavior, attitudinal measures musttarget recycling specifically. FUTURE RESEARCH AND FINDINGS A marginal interaction between gender IMPLICATIONS METHODS and condition was also present. Men in the short time in existence condition had The possible explanations for my findings Seventy-seven U of A students (57% female, significantly higher rates of recycling (62.5%)43% male) self-selected themselves into this should be examined through further compared to males in the long time in research by gathering information regardingexperiment, which was disguised as a study on existence condition (29.4%), F(1, 69) = 4.38,“advertisement techniques.” Participants were attitudes toward recycling before and after p = .04. Women did not show a significant the manipulation of longevity. Use of apresented with an ad for the University of difference, though their means tended to goArkansas’ recycling program and informed that control group would also offer a better in the opposite direction (20% and 25%, for comparison between attitudes and behavior,it had been around for either three years or the short and long conditions, respectively), Overall, the correlation between attitudes irrespective of longevity. Furthermore, athree decades. Participants received a F(1, 69) = 0.12, p < .73. toward recycling and recycling behavior was control group would determine a baselinerecyclable cup near the end of the study and not significant, r(73) = .07, p = .53. This As these means suggest, males who recycling rate that would allow me to makesubsequently had the opportunity to recycle it. means that attitudes toward recycling, as were told that the recycling program had comparisons between groups and to drawRecycling behavior was recorded and measured by a demographic questionnaire, been around for three years had the highest conclusions about whether recycling ratescalculated in the form of percentages for each did not predict recycling behavior. rate of recycling compared to the other three increased or decreased due to thegroup. This supports the existence of an attitude- groups; a one versus three contrast manipulation of longevity. HYPOTHESES behavior gap, despite the use of issue- confirmed this, F(1, 69) = 7.79, p = .007. However, I can make some theoretical I hypothesized that participants in the long specific attitude measures. It is possible that Some objects and situations may be comparisons based on the recycling rate attime in existence condition (three decades) participants’ attitudes following their preferred as a function of their perceived the University of Arkansas. According to thewould exhibit a higher recycling rate compared exposure to time in existence could have short time in existence, including cars and recycling coordinator, the current recyclingto those in the short time in existence condition matched up with their recycling behavior, smartphones. Preference for novelty is found rate on campus is 36 percent. Men in the(three years). I also predicted that attitudes and differed from their initial attitudes toward most often when the object or behavior is short time in existence condition exhibited atoward recycling would be stronger among recycling. In addition, time in existence could familiar to the individual. It is possible that recycling rate of over 62 percent, suggestingwomen, and that these attitudes, regardless of have had an effect on participants’ opinions those participants who engaged in recycling that their knowledge of the recyclinggender and condition, would correspond closely without the increased favorability being were familiar with the recycling program on program’s “newness” led to increasedwith behavior. converted into action. campus, or recycling in general. recycling. This poster was prepared in partial fulfillment of SUST 4103 Sustainability Capstone
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