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Motivating Environmental Action in a Pluralistic Regulatory Environment: An Experimental Study of Framing, Crowding Out, and Institutional Effects in the Context of Recycling Policies


  • Yuval Feldman,

  • Oren Perez

  • For financial support, we thank the Israel National Science Foundation. For statistical consulting, we thank Tammy Shterental and Amir Falk. We would like to thank Jacob Nussim, Tsilly Dagan, Barak Medina, as well as the editors and anonymous referees, for helpful comments. Please address correspondence to Yuval Feldman, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University and the Edmond J. Safra Center for the Study of Ethics, Harvard University, 124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 520N, Cambridge, MA 02138; e-mail:; and Oren Perez, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel; e-mail:


In designing a recycling policy, the regulator must choose among multiple instruments. Our study seeks to address the linkages between the choice of regulatory instruments and institutional frameworks, people's intrinsic motivation, and various attitudinal measures. We examined the behavioral repercussions of several instruments that are used widely in recycling regulation, using an experimental survey on a representative sample of the Israeli population (N = 1,800 participants). Our findings suggest that the design of recycling policies should be sensitive to the framing effects of varied regulatory instruments and to the interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on the desirability and efficacy of the law. In particular, we point out the potential regulatory advantage of using deposit schemes over other instruments and of using private organizations as regulatory agents. Drawing on these findings, we discuss the potential value of using differentiated regulatory policies to provide incentives for recycling in societies characterized by broad heterogeneity in levels of intrinsic motivation.