Committing to Keep Clean: Nudging Complements Standard Policy Measures to Reduce Illegal Urban Garbage Disposal in a Neighborhood With High Levels of Social Cohesion

Inge Merkelbach*, Malte Dewies, Semiha Denktas

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Illegal garbage disposals are a persistent urban problem, resulting in high clean-up costs, and nuisance and decreased satisfaction with the neighborhood among residents. We compared three adjacent city-areas in Rotterdam in the Netherlands which, for 2 weeks, either: (1) no action to decrease illegal garbage disposals was taken; (2) standard door-to-door canvassing was carried out; or (3) door-to-door canvassing was enriched with several nudges, most importantly a commitment-nudge. The nudge treatment proved highly effective, reducing illegal disposals at post-test and follow-up (2 months later) with two-thirds, resulting in a very large effect size (d = 2.60). At post-test, standard door-to-door canvassing did not differ from the control treatment, but at follow-up results were comparable to the nudging-treatment. This could, however, be due to spill-over effects. Using a commitment nudge thus proved highly effective in decreasing illegal garbage disposals, however, effects might be specific to neighborhoods with strong social cohesion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number660410
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume12
Issue numberJuly 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

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© Copyright © 2021 Merkelbach, Dewies and Denktas.

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