Living Lab Projects

What goes where? Using visual examples to increase recycling compliance

Nicholas Varone ‘12 
Spring 2012
Professor Steven Sloman


For this upper level psychology course senior Nick Varone tested the theory of libertarian paternalism and choice architecture by using an example box to increase recycling compliance.  During his 22 day study Nick found that, while the results were not statistically significant, “recycling was highly evident during the three-week study period…mixed containers and mixed paper were recycled at a moderate and high rate, respectively. Furthermore, supporting the prediction that the example box would increase recycling compliance … the average proportion of all three items changed in the hypothesized manner: the proportion of mixed containers (17.17%) and mixed paper (1.43%) to trash increased, whereas the proportion of recyclable items placed into the trash bin (-1.61%) decreased. 

Facilities Management and the Campus Center staff are now considering adding additional example bins across campus. 


Energy Usage and the Status Quo Bias

Can Gencler ‘12
Jesse Hartheimer ‘14
CLPS 1230: Seminar in Decision Making
Professor Steven Sloman


For this upper level psychology class Can and Jesse studied the application of the status quo bias to reduce energy consumption in dorms.  They designed an experiment that used different phrases on stickers above light switches that encouraged students to keep them in the off position.  In their ANOVA results, the student found, “a negative mean percent change in Littlefield Hall’s (the status quo condition’s) energy consumption, meaning a decrease in its average energy consumption; whereas both Caswell Hall (the non-status quo condition) and the Keeney Quad (the control condition) had positive mean percent changes, meaning an increase in their average energy consumptions.  Moreover, as predicted, non-status quo condition had a lower increase in its energy consumption than the control condition.”  While the results were not statistically significant they do suggest that applying status quo language can be and effective behavior change tool.  Can and Jess used the Building Dashboard to collect their data. 

Read Can and Jesse’s full report for more details. 


Green Events: a Theories in Action Pilot

Abeba Cherinet ’15, Arisa Lohmeier ’14, Charlotte Delpit ’15, Julia Duch ’12, Juliana Rodriguez ’14
ES0410: Environmental Stewardship
Professor Kurt Teichert


For this Environmental Stewardship class, these 5 students developed and evaluated a Green Events protocol to encourage waste-reduction, composting and local food at University events.  They evaluated similar programs at peer institutions, developed a checklist and signage and then conducted a pilot at the Theories in Action conference in May 2012.  The students surveyed conference attendees and determined that image based waste-reduction signage at events is more effective than text based signage.