Context matters: Three ways of how the context influences recycling behaviour


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What motivates people to recycle? How can recycling be promoted? These are the two core questions of this PhD thesis. We proposed that the context in which recycling takes place, individual factors and their interaction influence recycling. Extending previous research, we studied three ways of how the context can influence recycling. First, we addressed whether the context can influence recycling by facilitating or inhibiting recycling. We found that the easier individuals perceived the collection system to use, the more feasible they perceived recycling to be, which led to more recycling. Interestingly, strong biospheric values particularly promoted recycling when recycling was perceived as not very feasible, suggesting that people with stronger biospheric values are also likely to recycle when recycling is relatively costly. Second, we found that the context can influence recycling by making people focus on the environment. Specifically, we found that a packaging design that focussed people on the environment stimulated recycling, particularly among individuals with moderately strong to strong biospheric values, and particularly when novel designs were used. Third, we reasoned that the context can stimulate recycling by strengthening individuals’ motivation to recycle. We found that an art installation that aimed to strengthen environmental self-identity promoted actual recycling. Yet, the art installation did not strengthen environmental self-identity, suggesting that the art installation may have encouraged recycling via other processes. In summation, this thesis suggests that the context can promote recycling in three different ways, and that the effects of the context on recycling depend on individual factors, such as biospheric values. This highlights the importance of considering the context in explaining recycling, next to individual factors.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Steg, Linda, Supervisor
  • van der Werff, Ellen, Co-supervisor
  • Ünal, Berfu, Co-supervisor
  • van Doorn, Jenny, Beoordelingscommissie
  • Hekkert, P.P.M. , Beoordelingscommissie, Externe Persoon
  • Pahl, Stefan, Beoordelingscommissie
Datum van toekenning7-sep.-2020
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-034-2871-0
StatusPublished - 2020


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