Interesting fact

Besides receiving full information about their actions, individuals should also receive timely feedback about the consequences of their actions.

Here, we provide some information to help to develop a successful scheme that use feedback to promote sustainable transport.

Goal setting

One of the ways to sustain change is to provide feedback on goals or challenges. The goal is to use more sustainable modes rather than the car. Most effective are goals that people can set themselves. In other words, let people choose their own challenges ranging from easy to difficult. Challenges should be concrete. For example, if you want to promote cycling, include a cycling frequency and provide a duration of the challenge. Below are several ways you can use feedback to help people reach their goals.

Direct feedback

These are things like compliments, smileys or virtual gifts like electronic badges or medals given when people complete their challenge. On their own, they are less effective then rewarding individual tasks. However, with indirect feedback, for example when comparing behavior with others in social media, direct feedback can be very effective.

Indirect feedback on previous behavior

This feedback compares the present behavior with the person’s own past behavior. It can be passive by just showing the monitored behavior, using it as a mirror. However, the feedback is more effective when it shows progress in reaching a certain goal or even provides advise how to reach that goal. For this travel should be tracked using GPS and other (smartphone) sensors measuring movements.  Within EMPOWER this is done with the SMART app.

Indirect normative feedback

This feedback compares the present behavior with a target behavior. This target behavior can be set by policy makers. This type of feedback has proved to be effective in campaigns to reduce smoking or alcohol consumption in which the target behavior, i.e., the norm is not to smoke or consume alcohol.

Indirect comparative feedback

This feedback compares the present behavior with the performance of others. Comparing behavior in its own, for example in the form of leaderboards, are popular in games where leaders can win a prize when they are the best (for example cycle the most). They are probably less effective for changing car users’ behavior. Only comparing behavior with others that do better could even be discouraging. However, in combination with direct feedback this type of feedback has proven to be very effective. The comparison with others encourages persons to stay committed to their goals, while at the same time their achievements are being recognized and shared with others.  Within EMPOWER this is done with the Commute Greener app.