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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Ana Leite

Meleady, R., Abrams, D., Van de Vyver, J., Hopthrow, T., Mahmood, L., Player, A., Lamont, R. & Leite, A.C. (2017). Surveillance or self-surveillance? Behavioral cues can increase the rate of drivers' pro-environmental behavior at a long wait stop. Environment and Behavior 49(10): 1156-1172.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

By leaving their engines idling for long periods, drivers contribute unnecessarily to air pollution, waste fuel, and produce noise and fumes that harm the environment. Railway level crossings are sites where many cars idle, many times a day. In this research, testing two psychological theories of influence, we examine the potential to encourage drivers to switch off their ignition while waiting at rail crossings. Two field studies presented different signs at a busy rail crossing site with a 2-min average wait. Inducing public self-focus (via a “Watching Eyes” stimulus) was not effective, even when accompanied by a written behavioral instruction. Instead, cueing a private-self focus (“think of yourself”) was more effective, doubling the level of behavioral compliance. These findings confirm the need to engage the self when trying to instigate self-regulatory action, but that cues evoking self-surveillance may sometimes be more effective than cues that imply external surveillance.