Testing Social Norms as an Incentive to Active Transportation Behavior

17 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2016

See all articles by William Riggs

William Riggs

University of San Francisco - School of Management; California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo; San Jose State University

Date Written: July 4, 2016


Research exploring the behavioral dimensions that drive travel (Carrel, Ekambaram, Gaker, Sengupta, & Walker, 2012; Dugundji & Walker, 2005; Jariyasunant et al., 2015) has shown that social and psychological forces often play a role equal to price and economic levers (Ariely, 2008; Heyman & Ariely, 2004; Lin & Wang, 2014; Riggs, 2014, 2015; William Riggs & Kuo, 2015; Riggs & Kuo, 2014; Sherwin, Chatterjee, & Jain, 2014). Yet, more work is needed to evaluate how market vs. social nudges work together to influence active transportation decisions. For this study, roughly 500 participants were offered differing incentives in four identical trials. These randomly assigned incentives included various monetary amounts, a free gift, or a social nudge tapping into altruistic values (in this case, benefits to the environment). After tests for homogeneity, the results showed the social nudge had a high degree of effectiveness, when compared to both the financial incentives and gifts. Furthermore, the results indicated that mixing market and social norms caused both to be less effective. These findings suggest that fiscal incentive programs used to influence travel decisions may be lacking. In fact, this research suggests a focus on social norms and value provides alternative tools to facilitate greater changes in travel behaviors that nudge individuals to more healthy and climate-sensitive modes of travel.

Keywords: travel behavior, social incentives, behavioral psychology, transportation demand management

JEL Classification: D40, D80, D20

Suggested Citation

Riggs, William, Testing Social Norms as an Incentive to Active Transportation Behavior (July 4, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2804721 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2804721

William Riggs (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Management ( email )

San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.williamriggs.com

San Jose State University ( email )

San Jose, CA 95192-0066
United States

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