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Title: Investigating the contextual influences shaping recycling behaviours
Authors: Ng, Ai Sian
Keywords: Social sciences::Communication
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Ng, A. S. (2021). Investigating the contextual influences shaping recycling behaviours. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Though the Paris Agreement came into effect in 2016 to unite all nations to act now to achieve carbon-neutral earth by 2050, devastating climate change effects are increasing globally. Despite the renewed hope of international collaboration led by superpowers, concerted efforts are critically needed now to transform our current production and consumption modes to achieve the targeted carbon emission reductions. Personal motivators, coupled with team efforts, are needed even more so now to augment policies to nudge one toward living more sustainably to make a carbon-neutral world a reality in 2050. This thesis thus aimed to build a contextual influence model and contribute a framework to integrate theory and practice to identify contextual influences that can be used to effectively nudge one to willingly recycle as a pragmatic approach to minimise the post-consumption harm on the environment. The model was developed to identify the drivers for adults to recycle, with a secondary focus on the youth respondents who were identified as potential concerns or game changers in ensuring environmental sustainability. Adopting a system perspective, the influences on one’s recycling behaviours were investigated at three levels for an exploratory case study to validate the contextual influence model. Starting from the policy level, educational activities, recycling infrastructure, and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and media were hypothesized to introduce contextual influence on the individuals to recycle. All three theoretical constructs from the self-determination theory – basic psychological needs theory (SDT-BPNT), the subjective norms, and controllability component constructs from the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), were selected with the collective efficacy construct, to measure the personal and people levels of influences on the adults to recycle. Financial factors and influences introduced by people and organisations interacting with the individuals were included as personal and people levels of influences respectively to enable a deeper understanding of the context at both levels. After completing the pre-test and pilot surveys in 2020, an online questionnaire survey was conducted by a commercial research company, engaged to gather responses from December 2020 to March 2021 in Singapore to establish the relative strengths of each construct as the hypothesized recycling behavioural antecedents in the contextual influence model (N=700). Data analysis results from the hierarchical linear regressions validated the contextual influence model and established the synergistic relationship between the three levels of contextual influences on the entire sample and the youth respondents whose responses were grouped on their age cohorts, gender, and marital status. The model validation contributed a simple operational framework for academia to integrate theory with practice for theory development. The additional media effects and circles of influences variables as precursors could stabilise the predictive strength of the subjective norm theoretical construct. Further statistical analyses using path analyses validated the theoretical constructs that, when driven by the respective hypothesized policy lever antecedent, could shape one’s inner determination, inner control, social feelings, and group dynamics and offer intrinsic and extrinsic policy intervention contexts. The competence construct was observed to be most impactful in shaping inner determination to recycle and could be more resilient to apply to practice. Policy level influences from the use of ICT and media; and people level influences from one’s circles of influences from interacting with other persons and organisations were also found to be strong drivers to shape recycling behaviours. These validated constructs could be utilised to augment theory applications in future studies and refine recycling policy design and delivery. The thesis concluded with recommendations from the model findings and the Singapore experience for policymakers and a discussion of future research directions. Among the suggestions included the use of theories like the SDT-BPNT to examine and improve policy design and delivery; and areas to examine current practices to adapt to the evolving social context due to the current pandemic. The need to manage the impact of disrupted services, like the closure of recycling infrastructure, was also discussed with alternatives, like designing and making available mobile applications to educate and inform people on recycling matters and empower the fulfillment of their competence needs. It is hoped that the current findings would be a useful reference for other Asian countries and a start of more theory and practice integration studies to make future efforts towards pro-environmental behaviours more impactful.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/155187
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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