The following blog entry looks at a local Kenilworth garbage bin on Warwick Road. The message on the bin intends to encourage people to make use of the facility and ‘keep’ the town clean.
The message clearly poses a request to its villagers: take pride and keep the town clean! Goldstein, Claudine & Griskevicius (2008) investigated the effect of variations in messages urging people to act pro-socially. In their now famous study on towel re-use in hotel rooms, they manipulated the messages that appeared on strategically placed cards. Whilst using a standard environmental message, only 35-38% of guests actually re-used their towels, slight manipulations yielded dramatic increases in effectiveness. Using a message that applied a same room identity descriptive norm, i.e. making specific reference that guests in this room largely complied with the request, achieved the best results. On average, close to half of the participants (49.3%) re-used their towels.
To apply these findings and potentially render the town cleaner, Kenilworth may rephrase their requests on bins. For example:
“People on Warwick Road take pride in Kenilworth”
Goldstein, N.J., Cialdini, R.B. & Griskevicius, V., 2008. A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(3), pp.472–482.