$300,000 Spent by National Science Foundation: Is Recycling Manly?

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If you are a man carrying reusable shopping bags or a woman caulking windows, watch out, because your sexual orientation could be in question.

Those are the results of three studies from Penn State University in 2015 and 2016 showing that pro-environmental behaviors deemed "feminine" or "masculine" may affect people's perceptions about the person.


The National Science Foundation gave the Penn State researchers $300,000 to complete these and other studies. The study organizers had 960 people participate in the three studies, the first two of which included reading fictional summaries “of a person’s daily activities, which included either feminine, masculine or neutral pro-environmental behaviors.”

The study participants then rated whether the person had masculine or feminine traits and guessed what their sexual orientation might be.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that people whose behaviors conformed to their gender were seen as more heterosexual than those whose behaviors did not conform to their gender’s stereotypes.

A third study looked at whether people avoided other people based on their pro-environmental behavior preferences, asking participants whether they preferred talking to a woman or a man who wanted to discuss gender-conforming behaviors, or a woman or a man who preferred gender-nonconforming behaviors.

They found that people mostly preferred to talk to people who conformed to gender stereotypes for feminine behaviors and masculine behaviors.

Conclusion: If you care about how your sexuality is perceived, see who’s around before recycling and composting.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

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