Travel behaviours have shown considerable resistance to change, but substantial change is needed because reduced emissions cannot be secured from technical innovation alone. Our focus is on a new way to engage with, and ultimately influence, travel behaviours. Instead of appealing to emission reduction (which can feel removed from our everyday experiences), we appeal to people’s wish to improve their own subjective well-being (SWB).
Previous work has shown that much travel behaviour is not rooted in rational decision making, but is governed more by habit and satisficing, making it more difficult to understand and influence. Economics and psychology have long played a role in attempts to understand travel behaviours, but our work brings new perspectives, drawing on the concepts of experienced utility (EU) and SWB. These perspectives are combined with expertise from mobile computing, creative technologies, mathematics and user-centred design to explore an innovative solution to understanding and potentially influencing travel behaviour.
In our feasibility study, we develop an experience sampling system via a smartphone platform for the collection and delivery of information on subjective travel experience. Data collection is informed by EU and facilitated by advanced methods in data capture and representation. In a series of small trials we feedback information to individuals about their own experiences, and those of others, and we explore whether and how these interventions change behaviour. The idea is one of user-informed behavioural interventions to encourage self-motivated change, and here we draw on positive evidence from health (Michie et al 2009).
Our ultimate aim is to reduce travel emissions through behavioural change. We hypothesise that encouraging people to reflect on their regular travel experiences, represented to them in novel ways, will cause them to think differently about the journeys and this will promote behaviour change. The motivation for the individual is a concern with own SWB, rather than green issues per se. To date, while behavioural interventions have had some success in transport, especially at the local level, they do not seem to have achieved an overall national behavioural shift in a more sustainable direction
Our specific objectives are to:
- understand travel behaviour via a theoretical framework based in EU;
- develop a generalisable experience sampling platform system for self monitoring, self-reflection and delivery of interventions relating to travel behaviour;
- explore the factors that encourage/discourage reflection in this context;
- understand the effect of reflection on travel behaviours;
- inform interventions to support behavioural change resulting in reduced travel emissions.