Context and research questions
Current mobility patterns are still dominated by car use, which accounts for high energy consumption, adverse effects on health, and also contributes significantly to global climate change. In the last years a number of alternative and energy-efficient mobility options have emerged; yet, these still tend to be neglected due to a deep-rooted car dependency.
How can we encourage people to go by bike or walk, use the public transportation system, rely on emerging alternatives such as car-sharing and car-pooling systems or even organize virtual meetings to avoid traveling all together? GoEco! seeks to overcome traditional awareness-raising approaches and, by taking advantage of the wide acceptance of smartphones and tablets, proposes an innovative, community-based approach, directly addressing citizens and their everyday mobility choices.
Aim and objectives
The main objective of GoEco! is to investigate if and how information feedback and social interactions (social comparison and peer pressure) can be effective in fostering changes in personal mobility behavior. Research in social and environmental psychology has in fact shown that one of the most powerful triggers for sustainability transitions lays in providing bottom-up personal feedback and comparison with the behavior and performances of other members of one’s community. Individual feedback and social comparison activate competition and the urge to stand out among peers.
To test these theories in the mobility sector, we create a “living lab” experiment, that is a field study involving real-life users in real-world settings. In 2016 eight hundred users will test a smartphone application, which tracks their trips and uses game elements to challenge them to modify their mobility behavior.
To get a broader understanding of the complex phenomenon of behavior change, the living lab will be run both in Canton Ticino and in the City of Zürich. The two regions are very different with respect to the availability of mobility options and in the socio-cultural attitude of the population towards mobility. To get a deeper insight on the users’ perceptions and attitudes, a number of participants will be closely followed throughout the experiment by means of focus groups and interviews.
The GoEco! living lab will provide us with the chance to identify the main opportunities and impediments to change and to gather bottom-up policy recommendations for local public authorities, with the ultimate aim of promoting a wider and deeper change at the general society level.