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Publication Detail
Follow my example, for better and for worse: The influence of behavioral traces on recycling decisions.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Topf S, Speekenbrink M
  • Publisher:
    American Psychological Association
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Country:
    United States
  • Print ISSN:
  • PII:
  • Language:
Recycling behavior can recover valuable materials and mitigate green house gas emissions from landfills and incinerators. The potential positive impact of individuals' recycling behavior depends on others also making an effort, for instance, avoiding contamination. Knowing what other people have done may therefore influence recycling behavior. Behavioral traces are evidence of other people's behavior in a shared environment. Here, they relate to waste items already placed in one of two bins, a mixed recycling bin and a nonrecyclable waste bin. In two online experiments and one real-life intervention study, we investigate the role of behavioral traces on the willingness to recycle as well as the correctness of recycling. We find that seeing behavioral traces of previous recycling behavior makes recycling generally more likely, and people tend to copy item placement. This in turn increases correctness in groups where the average individual has good knowledge of recycling. Introducing correct items at the start of the day in the intervention study did not increase correctness, possibly because the correct items were soon buried by other items. Implications and future directions are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
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