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PLoS One. 2014 Aug 1;9(8):e104086. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104086. eCollection 2014.

A room with a viewpoint revisited: descriptive norms and hotel guests' towel reuse behavior.

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University of Bielefeld, Department of Psychology, Bielefeld, Germany.

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  • PLoS One. 2014;9(8):e106606.


Field experiments on descriptive norms as a means to increase hotel guests' towel reuse [1] were replicated and extended. In two hotels in Germany (Study 1: N = 724; Study 2: N = 204), descriptive norm messages suggesting that 75% of guests had reused their towels, or a standard message appealing to environmental concerns, were placed in guests' bathrooms. Descriptive norm messages varied in terms of proximity of the reference group ("hotel guests" vs. "guests in this room") and temporal proximity (currently vs. two years previous). Reuse of towels was unobtrusively recorded. Results showed that reuse rates were high overall and that both standard and descriptive norm messages increased reuse rates compared to a no-message baseline. However, descriptive norm messages were not more effective than the standard message, and effects of proximity were inconsistent across studies. Discussion addresses cultural and conceptual issues in comparing the present findings with previous ones.

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