When it comes to recycling, studies demonstrate that we may be easily swayed, and small details can create big changes in behavior. Remi Trudel of Boston University discovered that when an object loses its original form, its chances of being recycled collapse. A crushed can, as an example, is regarded as damaged – as such, it is more probably to end up in the trash can than in the recycling bin: “When things become damaged, they differ from the ‘prototype’ or ideal variant of that product, and consequently, they’re perceived as being less useful. As buyers, we tend to equate things that are useless with garbage,”. Small bits of paper also typically end up in the trash can: People are less probably to recycle them when the total quantity of small pieces is double that of a single regular sheet. But just ask people what the bits of paper may be useful for, and 80 of the time, they’ll recycle it, showing how quickly we can shift our view.
“Things that are useful are recycled, they still serve a function. In fact, Coke ran a campaign shortly after our 1st paper on the subject, showing a crushed can and emphasizing it was still recyclable. Educating buyers through promotional methods also as highlighting identity could increase recycling,” Argo said. A big push toward recycling can come from social norms, or unwritten rules on how to act. Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University and his colleagues set up an experiment in a car park in Texas. As people walked back to their cars, they had an accomplice walk in front of them and drop a big flier on the floor. Half the time, this happened in a spotlessly clean parking lot. The other half, the lot was already full of litter. Once they go to their car, the unsuspecting subjects found an alike flier obstructing the view on their windshield. What did they do with it? Out of those who saw the confederate litter in the littered environment, 54 threw their flier on the floor: When exposed to a prevalent behavior, we follow suit. Conversely, only 6 of those who saw the accomplice litter in the clean environment did so themselves: The gesture stood out, making it simple to disapprove of. Cialdini used these results to craft a series of TV ads to increase recycling in Arizona. In the ads, people who already recycled spoke approvingly of it while disparaging a single individual in these scene who didn’t recycle. A 25 increase in recycling has been recorded in communities exposed to the ads.
Usually speaking, we do not like to be outcasts, we want to fit in. Same thing happens in hotel rooms. By just replacing a regular ecological message with social norms – saying most guests in the hotel reused their towels – they saw a 26 increase in reuse. When they exactly referenced the guests who had earlier stayed in the same room, the increase shot up to 33: the closer the influence, the greater its effect. These devices, usually called nudges, are used by governments to persuade desirable action across many regions, from tax returns to public health. Power of influence techniques and the presentation of social norms about recycling, can considerably change recycling intentions and behavior.