Why do residents accept a demanding rule?: Fairness and social benefit as determinants of approval of a recycling system



Abstract:  This study examined why people accepted a demanding rule in a recycling system that was newly introduced in Nagoya City. We focused on two social psychological topics: social dilemmas and fairness. While the new system succeeded in reducing waste, it imposed a burden on citizens without providing incentives and sanctions. In a research survey, 1442 responses from a sample of 3000 (48% response rate) were obtained using a stratified sampling method. The results showed that the new recycling system was approved despite the demands placed on citizens, with a preference for more strict rules such as penalties and surveillance for noncompliance. The main determinants of approval of the new recycling system were social benefit and procedural fairness, whereas the main determinant of preference for strict rules was outcome fairness. We argue that (a) social benefit should be emphasized to facilitate cooperative behavior in a social dilemma situation and (b) the government should ensure sufficient discussion with citizens and acknowledgment of their opinions.