19 September 2011

Changing littering behaviour

People driving along the M40 this summer will probably have seen signs nudging them to dispose of their litter responsibly, with a little social pressure 'Bin your litter, other people do'. The Highways Agency, which is trialling various approaches to reducing littering, has probably picked up one or two negative responses. Seeing the signs I've wondered whether they might precipitate, rather than reduce, littering. Sadly, there seems to be some evidence for just such an effect: research at University of Groningen has found that prohibition signs in settings where there are cues to the negative behaviour (e.g. litter on the road) induce rather than reduce violations. This and other research on the social influences on behaviour in a special edition of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

[via BPS Research Digest]

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