Changing Behavior with Normative Feedback Interventions: A Field Experiment on Curbside Recycling

Schultz, P. W. (1999). Changing behavior with normative feedback interventions: A field experiment on curbside recycling. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 1, 25-36.

Examined the effects of normative feedback on community curbside recycling, and predicted that activation of personal and social norms would lead to an increase in household recycling, and that normative feedback would be more effective than factual information dissemination or pleas. Approximately 120 households were randomly assigned to each of 5 conditions: plea alone; plea plus individual written feedback; plea plus group written feedback; plea plus information; and control. Results showed significant increases from baseline in the frequency of participation and total amount of recycled materials for the individual and the group feedback interventions. None of the interventions altered the amount of contamination observed. The findings are interpreted as consistent with research on personal and social norms and suggest a link between behavior change produced through norm activation and behavior change produced through feedback.

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