SANDPIT - 'Reflect': A feasibility study in experienced utility and travel behaviour

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Economics

Abstract

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). Drawing on the behavioural economics concept of experienced utility (EU) and the psychology of health behaviour change, we combine these perspectives with expertise from mobile computing, creative technologies, mathematics and user-centred design to explore an innovative solution to understanding and potentially influencing travel behaviour. We develop an experience sampling system via a smartphone platform for the collection and delivery of real-time information on subjective travel experience. In a series of small controlled 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 evidence from successful interventions in health.

Here is what it might look like. You wearily push the car door shut, run your fingers over the dent and trudge, head down, to your front door. Placing your keys on the table, a tired face stares back from the hallway mirror - how many more grey hairs? Slumped in your armchair about to switch on the TV, your smartphone buzzes. You know what it is. Those people at the REFLECT project always know when you've arrived home and now they want to know how you feel. You tap a few keys in response to their prompts and then settle back in the chair for a snooze. You dimly register the spattering of rain on the windowpanes. The sky darkens ... The phone buzzes and you jerk up - must have dozed off. It's bound to be the REFLECT project prompting you with a reminder to download a 'representation of your travel experience'. You'd been listening to them over the last week and they'd only made your mood worse. What have they got for me now? That's unusual, "they want me to try someone else's experience?" You press play, and there's a picture of someone reading on a bus, they look very chilled, ipod on, the background music is relaxing ... Next morning you wake to the twitter of birds and soft sunlight stealing through the shutters. That crick in your neck seems to have gone and it's stopped raining. Through half-closed eyes you think back through the events of last night. Intrigued by someone else's experience, you had looked at that person's profile on the REFLECT system. Whoever they were, they clearly lived nearby because they took the same route into the centre of town. Every day, the travel experience this person had reported was consistently more pleasant than yours. The only difference you could see was that they took the bus into town. You'd many times passed people waiting at the stops: "Mugs," you'd thought, feeling superior in the metallic enclosure of your car. "Yet, I really don't enjoy my travel experience and they clearly do." "I wonder...".

Our project aims to encourage people to reflect on how they feel during regular journeys. We are not promising that the interventions that we deliver in this feasibility study will promote beneficial change. However, we explore how they influence the way people think about their travel behaviour, and use this improved understanding to design interventions that will promote change.

Planned Impact

The transport Grand Challenge aims to change travel behaviours to achieve reduced emissions. Our focus is on a new way to engage with these behaviours; instead of appealing to emission reduction, we appeal to people's desire to improve their own subjective wellbeing (SWB). Our proposition is that experienced utility, a form of SWB, measured at the point at which journeys are made, combined with interventions that feedback behaviour representations, can promote positive behavioural change, resulting in improved quality of life as well as reduced emissions.

Our impacts span policy (in transport and other contexts like energy use and health), the digital economy and the transport planning community. We have a good track-record of engagement with these groups, and we will use our Expert Advisory and Stakeholder Groups to develop these links, particularly with the DfT and the Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights (or 'nudge') Team. We will engage with the wider Digital Economy community via the EPSRC Digital Economy programme and the e-Horizons research centre, and the relevant TSB Knowledge Transfer Networks. We will liaise with the established Transport Planning community via the Transportation Research Group (Southampton), and we will engage where appropriate with initiatives emerging from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

There are been a recent surge in policy interest in individual behaviour change. Our empirical investigation of experienced utility and SWB is a rare real-world investigation, informing the measurement of SWB and contributing to debates on how behavioural economics can be used to influence individual behaviours. This is particularly pertinent with the Prime Ministers recent announcement on measuring 'happiness', and emphasis on the 'nudge' philosophy.

The internet and mobile communications are two great innovations of the last 20 years, now combined in smartphone technology which will become widespread over the next 2-3 years. In this context the development of an open tool to collect transport experience data will benefit researchers studying transport behaviours. The system can offer significant advantages over existing approaches that are typically based on travel diaries or observational studies. Moreover, the addition of mechanisms to support the deployment of interventions can be reused in a wide range of contexts. The design of visual and sonic representations and the analysis of their effects on behaviour contributes to Human Computer Interface design, and the new discipline of Emotioneering, with applications in areas as diverse as computer games, virtual environments and cognitive therapy. As we move to a digital and virtual age, behavioural knowledge is invaluable not only to our economic wellbeing (e.g. developing new technology in the important computer games industry), but also to our social wellbeing through digital health therapies and treatments.

In user-centred design we inform three areas: (i) design of engaging, non-intrusive mobile capture of data relating to behaviour and experiences, supporting empirical work that depends on understanding users' real-life experience; (ii) representation of subjective 'experience' alongside objective 'behaviour' data.; (iii) assessment of the interventions will inform the potential for persuasive technologies to influence behaviours at an individual and 'community' level.

Developments in the analysis of social networks are hampered by a lack of real-world data. Our data will be of value to the mathematical Network Science community, increasing understanding of the modelling of social phenomena in contexts where interactions between individuals are important. The project exemplifies the application of mathematics to 'real-world' problems and provides ideal material to communicate the importance of maths to the public and inspiring school students to consider careers in STEM subjects with long-term economic benefits for the UK.

Publications

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Arnott B (2014) Efficacy of behavioural interventions for transport behaviour change: systematic review, meta-analysis and intervention coding. in The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity

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Harris R (2012) Effect of memory on transport properties of complex systems in Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems 2012

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Roberts J (2017) Do environmental concerns affect commuting choices?: hybrid choice modelling with household survey data in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society)

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Winstanley C (2013) 6th Sense Transport: revolutionise the process of decision making in travel behaviour in CiTi Congreso Internacionale de Tecnologias de Informacion Proceedings

 
Title Reflect ... on experiences 
Description A short film describing our controlled study Loughborough where a group of car drivers were shown other's experience of commuting via feedback on a phone app. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Interest from other researchers. 
URL https://vimeo.com/131509298
 
Description Systematic review of previous work finds only weak evidence for the effectiveness of behavioural interventions to reduce car use.

Psychological research explores the predictors of mode choice and intention to change transport behaviours. Preliminary results suggests differences in psychological factors across those using different modes.

Hybrid choice model for a large representative UK sample explores the effects of environmental attitudes and behaviours on commuting mode and shows that both have an important influence choice.

Mathematical modelling motivated by the "peak-end" rule for remembered experience explores whether increased noise always leads to more switching between decisions. The outcome is dependent on the scale used for reflection, which has implications for questionnaire design.

To automatically detect travel mode while retaining low smartphone battery use, we explore fusing the Google Play accelerometer based 'mode-identification' function, with small amounts of GPS data. We are aiming to aggregate point estimates in time to derive a robust within-day travel diary.

We have designed and evaluated pervasive technologies to support the capture of subjective experience and encourage journey reflection. These include a context-sensitive mobile experience sampling platform (XPR), and a situated visualisation tool (Affective Doodle).

User-centred design work has explored journey related well-being and technology touch-points. A diary study showed a strong affective well-being response. Technology use showed some repeated profiles of phone and computer use.

A smartphone study explores the influence of others' journey experiences on commuter attitudes. Initial results show that for car commuters other's comments may have an impact on attitude to mode change.
Exploitation Route Our focus has been on understanding the psychological aspects of travel, and in particular subjective well-being, to explore whether reflecting on these experiences can bring about behaviour change. We have taken a multidisciplinary approach drawing on expertise and methods from behavioural economics, user centred design, mobile and ubiquitous computing, psychology and mathematics. Our results are of use to both academics and practitioners in travel planning.
Sectors Transport

URL http://reflect.lancs.ac.uk/blog/
 
Description Informed debate among transport policy makers.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description InnovateUK under the 'Urban Living: Innovative Products and Services' programme
Amount £230,565 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 03/2017
 
Description Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship
Amount £20,292 (GBP)
Funding ID IAF-2018-004 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 01/2019
 
Title Affective Doodle: Understanding Traveller Experiences Through Expressive Doodles 
Description The Affective Doodle Toolkit is a web-based platform that facilitates the capability to capture traveller experiences. In particular, the tool provides a fun and easy way for travellers to communicate their journey experiences through an iPad application that allows users to draw ('doodle') their travel experience. The application is configurable so that after performing a doodle questions can be attributed during the capture process to gather further information about their travel experience. Through a web visualisation collections of doodles are reflected back to users. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The Affective Doodle Toolkit has been trialled in several different domains including a University foyer, a corporate office, a public museum, and transport conference (UTSG 2013). Over this period the Toolkit has received over 100 doodles in each location. 
 
Title CX CommuterExperience: Subjective Well-Being Capture and Comparison app 
Description The SWB Capture and Comparison app is a collection of web pages embedded in a mobile phone application. These pages allow users to input how they feel after commuting and add comments about these journeys. Users can see their previous ratings and comments aggregated in one specific page. Also, users can see a list of selected ratings and comments from other users that used 3 different modes of transport: walk, cycle and car. This system was customized to the requirements of this project based on a content management system (Wordpress). It contains a database of users, comments, ratings and statistics of access to each page. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The SWB Capture and Comparison app was trialled in November/December 2014 with 18 participants. Commuters in the Loughborough area were invited to a study consisting of using the app for 2 weeks, filling questionnaires and giving interviews. This study provided a proof of concept and data for academic papers to be published in 2015. 
 
Title Xpr: Mobile Experience Sampling Platform 
Description XPR is a context-sensitive mobile experience-sampling platform that enables researchers to construct and disseminate interactive questionnaires via a mobile device to study participants. Researchers can configure surveys that include common question types such as likert scale and multi-option questions, associate contextual triggers (i.e. temporal, spatial) and allocate surveys to participants through a web interface. On detection of a particular user context through a users mobile device (e.g. entering a certain location) the application presents relevant surveys accordingly. Currently, XPR is supported only on the iOS mobile platform available to iPhone and iPad users. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Beyond use on the Reflect Project as a tool to help understand and measure the effectiveness of experience sampling (ESM) in comparison to alternative forming of sampling such as event reconstruction (ERM) a number of academic practitioners have shown further interest in using the XPR platform to support their research (Recall Project). 
URL http://reflect-esm-dev.lancs.ac.uk/
 
Description Consultation NICE Physical Activity and the Environment Guidance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Bronia Arnott was Consultation Co-ordinator: NICE Physical Activity and the Environment Guidance

The comments contributed to a decision to update the published guidance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Developing an active transport intervention: Current state of the evidence 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation by Arnott, B. & Araujo-Soares, V.
UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence Conference
Leeds June 2014.


none
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Fluctuations in stochastic systems with memory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination events at:


1. Seminar at Stellenbosch University, 12 February 2015

2. Seminar at African Institute for Theoretical Physics, Muizenberg, 10
March 2015

3. Seminar at University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 13 March 2015

4. Workshop on Stochastic Processes in Non-equilibrium and Biological
Systems, Saarbrücken, 18 June 2015 [invited speaker]

5. Nordita Program on Stochastic Thermodynamics in Biology, Stockholm, 30
September 2015 [invited speaker]

6. Seminar at King's College London, 4 November 2015

7. Seminar at University of Sheffield, 18 November 2015
8. Seminar at Queen Mary University of London, 13 October 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Random walkers with extreme value memory: modelling the peak-end rule 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination events at: .
1. pen Statistical Physics conference, Milton Keynes, 25 March 2015.

2. Workshop on Statistical Physics and Low Dimensional Systems, Pont-à-Mousson, 20 May 2015 [invited speaker]

3. Workshop on Modelling Change in Socio-Economic Systems, London, 13 July
2015

4. Workshop on Fluctuation Driven Phenomena in Non-equilibrium statistical Mechanics, Warwick, 22 September 2015

5. Workshop on Challenges in Statistical Mechanics, London, 8 December
2015 [invited speaker]
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Reflect on Travel Survey discussion with Newcastle City Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussion of how the findings from the Reflect on Travel Survey could help with their aims of increasing public transport uptake in the Newcastle area.

Discussion of developing a policy intervention
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Reflect on Travel Survey discussion with Nexus 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussion with Nexus about how the results of the Reflect on Travel Survey could help with their aims to increase public transport uptake in the Newcastle area.

None yet
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Seminar: Do environmental concerns affect commuting choices? Hybrid choice modelling with household survey data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk attracted audience from South Yorks Passenger Transport Exec who are now interested in the Reflect project

NOne
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The Active Travel Bill: a quiet revolution? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A blog post for the DECIPHer website on the implication of the passing of the Active Travel (Wales) Bill.

http://blog.decipher.uk.net/1/post/2013/10/the-active-travel-bill-a-quiet-revolution.html

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Transport Catapult 'Traveller Needs and UK Capability Study' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Tracy Ross was an expert interviewee for the Transport Catapult 'Traveller Needs and UK Capability Study' which was launched in October 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://ts.catapult.org.uk/documents/10631/0/Traveller+Needs+Study/b438391e-04d7-4170-a2f5-3ab15a827...
 
Description Video of the Reflect intervention study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The video below describes the final intervention study of the Reflect Project. A smartphone application was developed to foster reflection among car drivers, to make them think about how driving affect their subjective well-being. The app also made them compare their own subjective well-being with people using active modes of transport (walking and cycling). Previous research show that using active modes of transport can improve our mood in general, and we showed that people walking and cycling could have better experiences during their commutes than car drivers. Therefore this study investigated if the awareness of improved subjective experience of more sustainable modes of transport influence the attitudes, intentions and behaviour of people who predominantly drive for the commute.

requests for information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://reflect.lancs.ac.uk/blog/?page_id=132
 
Description What are the most effective behaviour change techniques in promoting active transport behaviours? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact FUSE Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, Workshop University of Newcastle

none
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description What are the predictors of active transport choices in a population survey? Preliminary results 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact FUSE Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, Workshop University of Newcastle

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014