Abandoned shopping carts could be a sign of social dysfunction.
The reason some people never return shopping carts, according to science.
On the spectrum of aberrant behavior, leaving a shopping cart in the middle of a parking space doesn’t quite rise to the level of homicide. But poor cart etiquette is nonetheless a breakdown of the social fabric, one in which some consumers express little regard for others by failing to return a cart to its proper place. Why does this happen?
In a piece for Scientific American, Krystal D’Costa examined some plausible reasons why shoppers avoid the cart receptacle. It might be too far from where they parked, they might have a child that makes returning it difficult, the weather might be bad, or they might have physical limitations that make returning it challenging. Alternately, they may simply believe it’s the job of the supermarket or store employee to fetch their used cart.
People who are goal-driven aren’t necessarily concerned with such factors. Their desire to get home, remain with their child, or stay dry overrides societal guidelines.
Ignoring those norms if a person feels they’re not alone in doing so was examined in a study published in the journal Science in 2008. In the experiment, researchers observed two alleys where bicycles were parked. Both alleys had signs posted prohibiting graffiti. Despite the sign, one of them had markings on the surfaces. Researchers then stuck a flyer to the bicycle handles to see how riders would react. In the alley with graffiti, 69 percent threw it aside or stuck it on another bicycle. In the alley with no graffiti, only 33 percent of the subjects littered. The lesson? People might be more likely to abandon social order if the environment surrounding them is already exhibiting signs of neglect.
In another experiment, researchers performed the flyer trial with a parking lot that had carts organized and carts scattered around at separate times. When carts were everywhere, 58 percent of people left the flyers on the ground compared to 30 percent when the carts were cared for.
Social examples are clearly influential. The more people return carts, the more likely others will do the same. There will, of course, be outliers. Some readers wrote to D’Costa following her first piece to state that they didn’t return carts in order to keep store workers busy and gainfully employed, that the primary function of those staff members is to get the carts back to the store, even though it’s rarely their primary job. Until returning carts becomes universally-accepted behavior, random carts will remain a fixture of parking lots. And Aldi will continue charging a quarter deposit to grab one.
in recent shopping cart returning news:
Meijer employee celebrated for returning millionth cart .
Dave Esch demonstrates returning carts on July 20, 2022, at the Meijer in Grand Ledge, MI.
Esch was celebrated for returning his millionth shopping cart as an employee of the store.
“the worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.”
“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone. – Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone episode: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street-1960
Celebrated every November 10th, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.
By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.
In 2020, the Day will be devoted to the theme of Science for and with society.
“ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge:
it is those who know little, and not those who know much,
who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”