Altruistic, Egoistic, and Normative Effects on Curbside Recycling

Ewing, G. (2001). Altruistic, egoistic, and normative effects on curbside recycling. Environment and Behavior, 33(6), 733-764. doi:10.1177/00139160121973223.

Notes that how altruistic, normative, and egoistic factors affect households' participation in curbside recycling has been shown to depend on how participation is measured. A study examining the relative influence of environmental attitudes, attitudes towards cost and effort, and subjective norms among 781 Ss offered a curbside recycling program is presented. If expressed as whether a household participated, the importance of 2 normative factors (the expectations of household members and of friends and neighbors), an altruistic factor (that recycling helps protect the environment) and an egoistic factor (that recycling is inconvenient), appears similar. However, the altruistic factor has the greatest impact and the egoistic factor the least because of strong beliefs in curbside recycling's environmental benefit and weak beliefs in its inconvenience. However, when measured by the proportion of different kinds of material a household recycles, the dominant influences are the expectations of other household members and inconvenience. The significance of egoistic concerns, namely, inconvenience and cost, is confirmed by negative attitudes toward user fees for garbage collection and toward drop-off depots as alternatives to curbside pickup.

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