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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Carolynn Kohn

First Committee Member

Sophia Hansen

Second Committee Member

Matthew Normand


The United States generated 251 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2012, half of which ended up in landfills; paper and paperboard make up the largest portion. Although the effects of antecedent and consequent manipulations on recycling are fairly well understood, with few exceptions (e.g., Trudel & Argo, 2013), the effect of stimulus characteristics on recycling has not been evaluated. Using a between subjects experimental group design, Trudel and Argo (2013) found size, and for cans, condition, affected recycling, such that more participants recycled large pieces of paper and large undented aluminum cans and fewer participants recycled small pieces of paper and small dented and undented aluminum cans. However, Trudel and Argo’s (2013) data provide little information regarding how context or group sessions affect recycling or whether the condition of paper might differentially affect recycling, as it did with cans. The present study used individual sessions, controlled for contextual variables (i.e., participant viewed all sizes of paper), and examined the effect of both size and condition of paper (i.e., crumpled or smooth) on recycling. Participants ( N = 60) were told this was a study about memory. They were instructed to complete a set of sorting tasks twice (for a total of two trials) with four different pieces of paper (standard-size smooth, standard-size crumpled, half-size, eighth-size), and, after each sorting task, to dispose of a piece until all four pieces were disposed. Results indicated neither size nor condition affected recycling; nearly all participants (90%) recycled all the paper. Factors other than paper size or condition (e.g., participant reactivity, geographic differences, exposure to all types of paper) may explain why results of the current study differed from previous research.





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