Changing commuters’ behavior using rewards: a study of rush-hour avoidance

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Changing commuters’ behavior using rewards: A study of rush-hour avoidance

Eran Ben-Elia*,

Centre for Transport and Society

Faculty of Environment and Technology

University of the West of England

Frenchay Campus, Bristol, BS16 1QY, United Kingdom

Dick Ettema

Urban and Regional research centre Utrecht

Faculty of Geosciences

Utrecht University

P.O. Box 80115

3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands

* (corresponding author)

Key Words

Attitudes, behavior-change, congestion, habitual behavior, information, motivation, reward.


In a 13-week field study conducted in The Netherlands, participants were provided with daily rewards – monetary and non-monetary, in order to encourage them to avoid driving during the morning rush-hour. Participants could earn a reward (money or credits to keep a Smartphone handset), by driving to work earlier or later, by switching to another mode or by teleworking. The collected data, complemented with pre and post measurement surveys, were analyzed using longitudinal techniques and mixed logistic regression. The results assert that the reward is the main extrinsic motivation for discouraging rush-hour driving. The monetary reward exhibits diminishing sensitivity, whereas the Smartphone has endowment qualities. Although the reward influences the motivation to avoid the rush-hour, the choice how to change behavior is influenced by additional factors including gender and education, scheduling considerations, habitual behavior, and cognitive factors regarding attitudes and perceptions, as well as travel information availability factors.

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