Motivations and Behaviors that Support Recycling

Werner, C. M. & Makela, E. (1998). Motivations and behaviors that support recycling. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 18, 4, 373-386.

Adult residents from 309 households were questioned about their attitudes towards recycling and the processes involved in recycling (recyclers' phenomenal experiences and organizing strategies). As predicted by the C. Sansone et al (1992) model of how people induce themselves to engage in necessary but boring tasks, people who had reasons to persist at recycling (i.e., who held strong prorecycling attitudes or had a social orientation towards recycling) were more likely to redefine recycling so as to emphasize its pleasures or the sense of satisfaction they gained from contributing to the environment. These people were also more likely to have developed a way of organizing recycling in their homes, to report few interferences with recycling, and to recycle on both short- and long-term bases. In accord with the model, people who became better recyclers by Time 2 (27 mo after the first questioning) or had had stronger prorecycling attitudes at Time 1 than people who remained poor recyclers. The results are consistent with the view that people who make a valued but uninteresting task more phenomenally interesting and more manageable are more likely to continue at the task.

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