The Effect of Social Norms on Residential Insecticide Use

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Insecticide products are widely used in homes around the world, despite concerns about their adverse health effects. Variations in insecticide use levels can stem not only from differences in environmental conditions, but also from societal factors. This study investigates the impact of religiosity on insecticide use in Jewish households, hypothesizing that religious families might use more insecticides because insects are considered taboo in Judaism. Data from interviews with 70 families, examining their insecticide use, exposure to pests, aversion to cockroaches, and other predisposing factors, revealed that despite similar levels of pest exposure, religious families reported higher insecticide use and greater aversion to cockroaches. Multiple linear regression analysis identified religiosity as the primary predictor of insecticide use, followed by pest exposure levels. The elevated insecticide use among religious Jewish families may stem from several factors, with the Jewish categorization of insects as “impure animals” that should be strictly avoided likely playing a crucial role in promoting insecticide use. Understanding how attitudes toward insects influence insecticide use across different societies is crucial for health and environmental authorities to develop novel insecticide-reduction initiatives that will be tailored to the unique social characteristics of various communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number286
Issue number4
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2024


  • dietary taboo
  • domestic pesticides
  • entomophobia
  • extermination
  • household pesticides
  • household pests
  • kosher
  • non-dietary pesticide exposure

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science


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