Project Director

Foerder, Preston

Department Examiner

Taylor, Caryl; Darger, Lisa; Byers, Libby


Dept. of Psychology


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Conservation psychology is a growing field that explores how people interact with and interpret their roles in the environment. I conducted a three part study that incorporates conservation psychology principles to examine the effects of recycling bin design and normative conduct on recycling behavior as well as the ecological orientation of UTC students based on survey responses. Experiment 1 compared two recycling bin conditions (non-lidded bin vs. bin covered with a lid with two holes indicating the shape of recyclables) to determine which bin design was more effective in promoting recycling behavior. No difference was found between the two designs. In Experiment 2, three conditions were established based on the level of recyclables (plastic bottles) in a garbage can placed next to a lidded recycling bin. Each level represented a different social norm: empty (no one threw anything away); 1 plastic bottle (only one person threw away a recyclable); 3/4s full with recyclables (the majority of people threw away recyclables). I found that participants were more likely to recycle when only one conspicuous stimulus (the plastic bottle) was present. I theorize that the presence of a single bottle drew attention to an instance of non-recycling behavior, encouraging the positive normative conduct of recycling. Experiment 3 gathered UTC students’ responses to the New Ecological Paradigm scale, distributed as an online survey, and examined relationships within the data. The total mean NEP score of the sample was 3.43, indicating a slightly more ecological world view. There were relationships between gender, political affiliation, and mean NEP scores. These three experiments serve to help build a strong working base for understanding environmentalism and recycling behavior on UTC’s campus and contribute to the growing body of conservation psychology literature.

IRB Number



B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Environmental psychology; Conservation (Psychology); Recycling (Waste, etc.); College students -- Attitudes


normative conduct; recycling; new ecological paradigm scale; conservation psychology; environmental psychology; recepticle design



Document Type



36 leaves




Under copyright.


Included in

Psychology Commons