If we write our name on an object, will we recycle it or trash it?

If you drink coffee and buy that in a shop, the barista might call out your name – which may be written on your disposable cup – when it’s ready. Does the fact that your name is written on the cup have an influence on whether you choose to recycle it or not? Even if they spelled your name wrong?

Everyday, we make decisions about whether to keep or dispose of objects that we have purchased or obtained. Often, the decision can boil down to whether we recycle or trash the object in question. In this show I speak with Associate Professor Remi Trudel from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University in the USA to find out more about how our identity links to the products we might buy, but also how this may influence the decision about how we dispose of that item.

Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week’s show:

Here is the abstract for some context:

It has been known for some time that consumers’ identities influence purchasing decisions and people form strong identity connections, or “links,” with products and brands. However, research has yet to determine whether identity-linked products are differentially treated at disposal in comparison to products that are not identity linked. Across seven studies, the current research shows that when an everyday product (e.g., paper, cups, aluminum cans) is linked to a consumer’s identity, it is less likely to be trashed and more likely to be recycled. Further, the tendency to recycle an identity-linked product increases with the strength and positivity of the connection between the consumer and product (or brand). Finally, the disposal behavior can be explained by consumers’ motivation to avoid trashing a product that is linked to the self because it is viewed as an identity threat. In sum, consumers will be more likely to recycle (rather than trash) a product if the product is linked to a consumer’s identity. This occurs because placing an identity-linked product in the trash is symbolically similar to trashing a part of the self, a situation consumers are motivated to avoid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *