Testing Social Norms as an Incentive to Active Transportation Behavior
17 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2016
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: Suggested Citation