Science Weighs in on Why Some People Refuse to Return Their Shopping Carts to the Rack

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Are you a person who returns their cart to the rack after you load your groceries or other items into your car, or are you someone who just leaves it wherever in the lot so the next person that pulls into a spot gets to play dodge the cart?

Because that’s a super fun game.

I honestly never thought there were that many people willing to admit to being the latter, but I mean, if scientists are doing a survey and publishing papers on why people are the way they are, there must be.

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In a piece for Scientific Americanauthor Krystal D’Costa looked at some of the reasons some people avoid the cart return – they might be too far from where they parked, they might be juggling a kid or two, it might be raining or cold, or maybe they have physical limitations that make it seem like too much of an uphill climb.

Worst, some people seem to think it’s someone else’s job (because they’re getting paid so much?).

They also suppose that some people who do return their carts are motivated more by social pressure than anything else, so if all of the carts are neatly stacked, people are less likely to be the first to go rogue.

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In 2008, a study was published in the same journal that examined people’s likelihood to ignore established societal norms while they’re being watched, and whether or not they would need to be the first, or would simply be following suit, played a big role in their decision making.

Which is to say, what other people are doing matters to at least some folks. The more people who return their carts, the more likely it is that others will do the same.

Outliers will always exist, of course, as circumstances intervene and some people are just operating on a whole other level than the rest of us.

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So, there probably won’t come a day when you don’t need to watch your bumper in the lot. Womp-womp.

At least there’s some comfort in knowing that most of us are willing to do the right thing, for whatever reason.

Small, but there.