Subjective Expected Utility, Thresholds, and Recycling

Luedemann, C. (1999). Subjective expected utility, thresholds, and recycling. Environment and Behavior, 31, 5, 613-629.

In this article, a measurement procedure is proposed and applied in a survey on environmental behavior (247 Ss aged 18-86 yrs) in which costs, utilities, and expectations of outcomes of two behavior alternatives (putting waste glass into public recycling bins vs putting glass into garbage cans) and personal thresholds for recycling waste glass are measured. First, subjective expected utility (SEU) theory is empirically tested. Second, a multivariate model explaining disposal behavior is examined. Third, hypotheses about predictors of individual thresholds are tested. The hypotheses are as follows: The smaller the SEU values for a recycling bin disposal, the larger the SEU values for a garbage can disposal, the smaller the SEU differences (SEU recycling bin - SEU garbage can), the higher the threshold for a recycling bin disposal. Most of the hypotheses are confirmed. Finally, problems associated with the use and measurement of thresholds are discussed.

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