YUNG-JAAN LEE AND RAYMOND DE YOUNG
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION DERtVED FROM
OFFICE RECYCLING BEHAVIOR:
A CASE STUDY IN TAIWAN
(Accepted 16 July, 1993)
ABSTRACT. Despite the fact that more and more researchers have devoted them-
selves to recycling studies in varied settings, virtually no research has been conducted
to study the causal relationships between intrinsic satisfaction and individual recycling
behavior in office settings. In addition, little research has tried to explore whether there
is only one index of intrinsic satisfaction or several distinct indices. This paper
examines the dimensionality of intrinsic satisfaction. It also explores the causal relation-
ships between intrinsic satisfaction and office recycling behavior. Data from field
surveys conducted in 32 different organizations in Taiwan were analyzed. The findings
indicate that there are at least two distinct factors regarding intrinsic satisfaction --
participation and frugality. These data suggest that intrinsic satisfaction can be derived
from office recycling activities, not only being predictors of office recycling behavior.
In encouraging environmentally responsible behavior, extrinsic motiva-
tions, especially economic incentives, have been shown to play a rote
(e.g., Getler et al., 1982; Jacobs and Bailey, 1982--1983). However,
some have suggested that they may only be effective temporarily (Katzev
and Johnson, 1987) and, more seriously, they have been shown to
undermine the exploration of alternative strategies (e.g., Stern and
Gardner, 1981; McClelland and Canter, 1981). The most common
means of encouraging conservation behavior include providing infor-
mation (Gray, 1985; Weigel, 1983, 1985) and providing incentives
(Cone and Hayes, 1980; Geller et aI., 1982). Both have proven to have
limitations particularly when one is interested in durable behavior
change (Burn and Oskamp, 1986; Katzev and Johnson, 1987; Stem,
1992; Stern and Gardner, 1981). It seems one cannot Nve people the
fight motives any more effectively than one can force awareness and
interest in the issues. One researcher of conservation behavior has
come right to the point (Katzev, 1989):
Social Indicators Research 31: 63--76, 1994,
© 1994 KluwerAcademic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
J-Y. LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
... Powerful external justifications, such as highly persuasive messages or large
monetary incentives, wilt never lead to long lasting changes in recycling behavior
because they do not foster the development of sufficiently strong internal mechanisms
of control -- mechanisms which would lead individuals to permanently value recycling
and, thereby, continue to find it satisfying when these powerful justifications are no
This phenomenon suggests the need for consideration of other factors
that can encourage environmentally responsible behavior.
The usefulness of looking beyond strong external forces for con-
servation motives has been suggested by numerous researchers. Reichel
and Geller (1981) suggest that conservation behavior be expected and
valued; "such norms may even be internalized by individuals so that
conserving behaviors become intrinsically reinforced." One such ap-
proach has been explored which involves a curiously simple concept.
For many conservation behaviors, people do them because they enjoy
doing them. They are sources of personal contentment. For instance, it
has been found that recycling and reusing materials are related to
intrinsic satisfaction from frugality and a sense of participation (De
Young, 1986; Oskamp et al., 1991). In another study, people reported
deriving personal satisfaction from carefully using resources and avoid-
ing waste (De Young, 1985--1986). In a different setting, it was found
that personal satisfaction is associated with socially responsive profes-
sional behavior (Harrison, 1982).
All these findings suggest that intrinsic satisfaction can be derived
from ordinary activities. However, no similar studies have been con-
ducted in office settings, nor have any explored the causal relationships
between intrinsic satisfaction and office recycling behavior. This paper
investigates the dimensionality of intrinsic satisfaction, and, using a path
analysis technique, examines the causal linkages among intrinsic saris-
faction and office paper recycling and reusing.
The survey data presented here are from a 1991 study done in Taiwan
focused on office recycling practices in the Taipei metropolitan area.
In order to study Taiwanese office workers' intrinsic satisfaction and
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR 65
recycling practices, a total of 32 organizations were identified, and
within each, questionnaires were administered to office workers. In
organizations employing fewer than 30 employees all workers were
given questionnaires, whereas in organizations employing more than 30
employees only a sample were given questionnaires. A total of 2000
questionnaires were distributed and 1788 were collected, representing
a response rate of 89.4%.
Of the 32 Taiwanese organizations, 15 organizations have recycling
programs and 17 do not. Of the 15 organizations with recycling pro-
grams, 11 (73%) started their programs in 1991, indicating that office
recycling is a relatively new activity in Taiwan. Selected demographic
characteristics of the respondents are shown in Table I.
Demographic characteristics of respondents
49.8% male, 50.2% female
36% were under 30 years otd, 42% in their 30s, 13% in their 40s,
6% in their 50s, 3% age 60 or over
1% had not completed high school, 14% high school grads, 23%
junior college grads, 45% had completed university, 17% had
completed graduate school or more
14% managerial, 27% professional, 3% researcher, 6% secretary,
41% clerk, 2% janitor, 7% temporary and other
The survey instrument was divided into several sections, constructed to
tap the extent to which office workers are committed to recycling
behavior -- in the office and at home -- and to measure their intrinsic
satisfaction with respect to recycling and conservation. The series of
questions forming indices of intrinsic satisfaction were adapted from De
Young (1986). The instrument was first written in English, and then
translated into Chinese and printed on recycted paper.
The survey asked the respondents to self-report their recycling
behavior. Recycling behavior questions were divided into office settings
.I-Y. LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
and home settings and included items on paper recycling, paper source
reduction, and encouraging co-workers to recycle. These items were
3-point scales ranging from never to frequently.
A series of 15 items were included in this study to assess intrinsic
satisfaction. The respondents were presented with one general stem
question that read as follows, "Please indicate how much satisfaction or
enjoyment you get from the following activities," followed by 15 state-
ments. All questions were scored on a five-point Likert scale, which
had a lower tag of "strongly disagree" and a upper tag of "strongly
Materials Recycled at Home and at Work
Household recycling behavior in the U.S. varies by the type of material
under consideration. According to recycling researchers and practi-
tioners, there is a sequence in the prevalence of materials being
recycled at home with newspapers recycled most often followed by
glass containers, metal cans, and then other materials (De Young,
1990). In order to determine whether this sequence exists and the
magnitude of household recycling in Taiwan, office workers were asked
about their recycling practices at home as well as at work.
As shown in Table lI, household recycling is widely practiced in
Taiwan, at least among the sample of office workers in Taipei. Four in
5 respondents said they recycled newspapers at home, whereas glass
containers were recycled by nearly half (45%) of the Taiwan respond-
ents, and a third indicated that they recycled aluminum cans. Reports of
materials recycled in the Taiwanese household followed precisely the
U.S. sequence noted above.
Household recycling is not new to the Taiwanese. The practice was
widely encouraged following World War II when the government
recognized that natural resources were in short supply and the country
was economically underdeveloped. People saved and re-used their few
consumer products for economic reasons. This was substantiated by the
respondents who reported a relatively long history of household
recycling (22% of respondents reported that they have been engaged in
household recycling for over three years).
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR
Percent of Taiwanese respondents who recycle at home and at work
Office Recycling ~
(n = 1788) (n = 1788)
* The question was "And how often do you do the following at home?" The three
response categories were: regularly, occasionally, and never. Data reported here cover
the regularly and occasionally responses.
t The question was "Here are some questions about recycling and the re-use of things
found around offices. Please indicate how often do you do the following while at work."
The three response categories were: regularly, occasionally, and never. Data reported
here combine the regularly and occasionally responses.
Approximately the same sequencing of waste materials that are
recycled at home are recycled at the office. As seen in Table II, about 9
in 10 office workers indicated that they recycled computer/office paper
at work, a third said they recycled glass containers, while a somewhat
smaller proportion (29%) recycled aluminum cans.
Intrinsic Satisfaction: One Index or Two Indices ?
In order to explore the indices involved in intrinsic satisfaction, an
exploratory principal component factor analysis with orthogonat vari-
max rotation was first conducted, using a minimum eigenvalue of 1.0 to
determine the number of factors. Exploratory factor analysis usually
reflects the fact that beyond the identifications of the items or measures
and the number of factors to be analyzed, the researcher does not
specify the structure of the relationships among the observed measures
in the model (Long, 1983).
The analysis identified two coherent indices -- satisfaction gained
from frugality and participation -- each described below. (See Table III,
alpha --- 0.82 and 0.81, respectively.) 2 Frugality is a theme closely tied
to survival on a finite and vulnerable world. Survival, now more than
ever, requires the prudent use of remaining resources. Without thought-
ful and cautious consumption many options for maintaining our
prosperity will vanish. The necessity of being frugal is at the core of a
thriving society. While such a value is needed more urgently now than
J-Y. LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
ever, it need not be adopted solely for its utilitarian nature. It is indeed
fortunate that frugality is perceived by the respondents as a coherent
dimension and that, based on their endorsement of the category, they
derive a sense of personal satisfaction from frugal actions.
Respondents also reported deriving personal satisfaction from direct
involvement in purposeful activities. This is consistent with the sugges-
tion of Ellis and GaskeU (as reported in Stern and Gardner, 1981) who
propose that a motive for conservative behavior may come from so
intangible a factor as the desire to be an active participant. This aspect
of intrinsic satisfaction is also compatible with a view of humans as
adaptive, information-generating and information-utilizing creatures
(Kaplan and Kaplan, 1982, 1989). As Cantril (1966) points out, people
want to directly experience a sense of their own worth, they want to
know that they are making a difference. And there is ample reason to
believe that this sense of being needed, of having a change to make a
difference, is a necessary not optional part of our existence (Kaplan,
1990). These findings support the conclusion from a curbside recycling
study 0~e Young, 1985--1986) that there are distinct intrinsic satisfac-
Table III also shows the indices identified in the behavorial items.
This table shows that, both at work and at home, there were two
separate behavior indices. For office behavior, there were two indices:
recycling in general and paper source reduction (alpha -- 0.77 and
0.69, respectively). For household behavior, the two indices were
household recycling in general and household paper recycling (alpha ----
0.87 and 0.70, respectively). These findings tend to support the
conclusion from a recent curbside recycling study that there are no
general factors of environmentally responsible behaviors (Oskamp et
In order to confirm the notion that there are two distinct intrinsic
satisfaction indices, a confirmatory factor analysis, using the LISREL
program (Linear Structural Relationships -- LISREL VI, Joreskog and
Sorbom, 1986), was conducted. In confirmatory factor analysis, one
imposes significant constraints on the solution including the number of
factors and which measures will be allowed to toad on which factors.
The analysis program then identifies the best available loadings.
Statistical tests are performed to determine the appropriateness of the
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR 69
Indices in intrinsic satisfaction and recycling beha~5or
Index name and items included Mean t Std. Dev. Alpha (a)
Frugality (Intrinsic Satisfaction)*
Consuming a minimum amount of resources
Finding ways to avoid creating waste
Keeping things working long past their normal life
Repairing rather than throwing things away
4.11 0.53 0.82
Participation (Intrinsic Satisfaction)*
Helping to make sense out of the world
Fitting into our place in the natural scheme of things
Taking actions which can change the world
4.21 0.60 0.81
Office Recycling in General**
Recycle glass bottles
Recycle aluminum soft drink cans
Recycle PET bottles
1.60 0.53 0.77
Office Paper Source Reduction**
Use the unused side of paper for notes, messages,
Make double-sided copies on the copying machine
Recycle office memos, computer printout, etc.
2.40 0.49 0.69
Household Recycling in General***
Recycle aluminum soft drink cans
Recycle glass bottles/cans
Recycle PET bottles
1.55 0.62 0.87
Household Paper Recycling***
Use the unused side of paper for notes and messages
2.36 0.57 0.70
* The stem question read, "Please indicate how much satisfaction or enjoyment you get
from the following activities." A five-point Likert scale was used with higher means
denoting higher endorsement for the category.
** For office recycling, the stem question read, "Here are some questions about
recycling and the re-use of things found around offices. Please indicate how often you
do the following while at work:" A 3-point scale was used ranging from regularly to
*** For home recycling, the stem question read, "And how often do you do the
following at home?" A 3-point scale was used ranging from regularly to never.
* According to Pairwise T-Test, the two means for Intrinsic Satisfaction (4.11 and
4.21) are significantly different at the probability level of 0.001. For Recycling
Behavior, the two pairs of means (1.60 and 2.40 for office recycling; 1.55 and 2.36 for
household recycling) are significantly different at the probability level of 0.001.
J-Y, LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
researcher's model, in terms of reproducing the observed relationships
between the measures. The results from two LISREL analyses are
presented in Figure 1 and Figure 2. These two analyses differ on the
number of factors the program was told to solve for. The result shown
in Figure 1 assumes there was only one intrinsic satisfaction index,
whereas Figure 2, assumes there were two distinct indices -- intrinsic
satisfaction from frugality and participation.
There are several criteria one can choose from to evaluate the fit of
the LISREL model. No single statistic can provide a definite answer for
deciding whether one model is better than the other one. Nonetheless,
when reporting the LISREL results concerning the fit of a model, one
should at least present the following measures: (a) chi-square value, (19)
degree of freedom, and (c) adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AGFI)
~aykov et al., 1991). One should also list the Critical Number (CN)
value (Hoelter, 1983) and root-mean-square residual (RMSR). The
results of these measures are presented at the bottom of both Figure 1
and Figure 2.
X Lamtxta Xi
........ £x) ....
o.~,--~ c~,~o,~ ~~/",/~ ~/'
FIT: df=14 X2=667.16 X2/df=47.654 CN=64 AGFIffi0.784 RMSR=0.072
Fig. 1. Confirmatory factor analysis of intrinsic satisfaction: One index.
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR
o.489-- C oE ",k
I~TI'ING ~ n ~ Q ~
FIT: df=13 X2--239.97 X2/df=18.46 CN-165 AGFI -- 0.927 RMSR=0.tM1
Fig. 2. Confirmatory factor analysis of intrinsic satisfaction: Two indices.
Plausible models are usually associated with chi-square values that
are low for a given degree of freedom, with high descriptive AGFI, as
well as a low RMSR and a CN greater than 200 times the number of
groups (in this case, CN has to be greater than 200, since there is only
one group). According to these criteria, the model in Figure 2 is a more
plausible model than that in Figure 1. That is, the explanatory power of
two intrinsic satisfaction indices is better than one intrinsic satisfaction
In addition, the values of Lambda(x) (factor loadings) are higher and
the values of Theta delta (measurement errors) are lower in Figure 2
than those in Figure 1, which also suggests that the model with two
separate indices is better than that constrained to one index. 3 All these
findings confirm the notion that these data form two distinct indices of
J-Y. LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
Causal Linkages between Intrinsic Satisfaction and Office Recycling
While previous studies have found that there are significant relation-
ships between intrinsic satisfaction and recycling behavior, no studies
have explored the causal linkages between intrinsic satisfaction and
office recycling behaviors. In order to test the hypothesis that intrinsic
satisfaction can be derived from conservation behavior, not only being
predictors of the behavior, two path analyses were conducted, using
multiple regression models (Figure 3 and Figure 4). Figure 3 shows the
result of path analysis, using intrinsic satisfaction as a predictor of office
recycling behavior. In Figure 4, intrinsic satisfaction is assumed to be
derived from office recycling behavior.
The path coefficients in path analysis tell one how strong the direct
effects are in the model. In Figure 3, the path coefficient from frugality
to office recycling is 0.128 and 0.086 from participation to office
recycling. In Figure 4, the path coefficient from office recycling to
Fig. 3. Causal linkages: Intrinsic satisfaction as predictors.
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR 73
Fig. 4. Causal linkages: Intrinsic satisfaction as outcome variables.
frugality is 0.156, and 0.128 from office recycling to participation. The
path coefficients in Figure 4 are higher than those in Figure 3, which is
consistent with the notion that intrinsic satisfaction, be treated as
outcome variables. The unexplained variance in both models are very
high: 0.985 for Office Recycling in Figure 3; 0.988 for Intrinsic
Satisfaction from Frugality and 0.992 for Intrinsic Satisfaction from
The demonstrated interrelationship between intrinsic satisfaction and
office recycling behavior offers exciting possibilities. It appears that
these aspects of conservation behavior not only exist, but are valued by
the respondents as well. Conservation behavior can be argued as vital
to an individual's continued thriving on a finite and fragile planet. It is
J-Y. LEE AND R. DE YOUNG
thus essential that an individual not only be competent at carrying out
conservation behavior, but to also find them pleasurable to do (Midgley,
1978). These behaviors ought to be, in other words, intrinsically
satisfying. Individuals who did not find them so would presumably
devote less effort to them and hence be less effective. In this sense
patterns of satisfaction measured by Frugality and Participation impart
an adaptive advantage to the individuals who possess them.
It is also important to distinguish intrinsic satisfactions from meas-
ures of environmental attitudes. The satisfaction constructs presented
here go beyond being solely attitudinal in nature. Certainly satisfactions,
like attitudes, are evaluative in nature, involving an affective reaction to
some target behavior. However, satisfactions also include a motivational
component. Respondents are not just indicating whether they think a
particular behavior is a good idea. They report deriving a personal
pleasure or enjoyment from carrying out office recycling behavior. Thus
these satisfactions are likely measures of the respondent's intrinsic
motive to conserve in the office setting.
These results are also consistent with previous research on intrinsic
satisfactions. It appears both Taiwanese office workers and American
homeowners are able to derive internal satisfaction from the very
behaviors that we so often try to externally motivate. These findings
also begin to suggest that intrinsic satisfaction may be a universal
construct able to be applied to different settings and different groups of
people. Future research should certainly explore this exciting possi-
In this study, only the interrelationship between intrinsic satisfaction
and office recycling behavior was investigated. This may explain why
the unexplained variance are high in both path analyses. Since intrinsic
satisfaction can be derived from many daily conservation activities, not
just office recycling, subsequent research should investigate whether the
unexplained variance can be reduced by including many conservation
behaviors in the path analysis.
The use of measures of intrinsic satisfaction to better understand
conservation behavior remains promising. As this understanding ex-
pands, it may turn out that promoting conservation behavior does not
require "giving" people the right reward schedule but instead connect-
ing motives they already have to the appropriate behaviors. Making this
INTRINSIC SATISFACTION AND RECYCLING BEHAVIOR 75
connection between intrinsic motives and conservation is best viewed as
a process of self-discovery -- a process one might enhance but not force.
People may need not so much to be told what to do as to be reminded.
A copy of the survey instrument is available by writing the author at:
Raymond De Young
School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, M148109-t 115, U.S.A.
2 Alpha is a coefficient of reliability which measures the reliability of a test, or category
of items, in the sense of its internal consistency.
3 The number 0.745 in the double-headed arrow in Figure 2 is a correlation coeffi-
cient. Since this coefficient is the result of a confirmatory factor analysis, it is different
from that in Figure 3 (0.329), which is the result of a path analysis.
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Department of Land Economics,
National Cheng-Chi University,
RAYMOND DE YOUNG
School of Natural Resources and Environment,
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1115,