The Effect of Strength of Commitment on Newspaper Recycling

Anton U. Pardini
Richard D. Katzev

DOI: 10.2190/6PN9-MXFP-3BFF-CHHB


To investigate the impact of commitment on newspaper recycling, thirty households were randomly assigned to one of the following three conditions: Information, where subjects were informed about the recycling project through a leaflet; Minimal Commitment, where subjects were asked to make a verbal commitment to recycle newspapers; and Strong Commitment, where subjects signed a statement saying their household would participate in the project. The frequency of participation and the weight of the newspapers recycled was assessed during a two-week intervention period and a two-week follow-up period. The results on both measures indicated that the stronger the commitment, the greater the degree of recycling. In addition, the Strong Commitment group continued to maintain these gains throughout the follow-up period. The effects of commitment were viewed as a successful application of the minimal justification principle and were contrasted with the outcomes of incentive-based programs which rely on powerful external inducements.

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