Publication Detail

Goal Setting, Framing, and Anchoring Responses to Ecodriving Feedback


Working Paper

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Electric Vehicle Research Center

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Suggested Citation:
Stillwater, Tai and Kenneth S. Kurani (2012) Goal Setting, Framing, and Anchoring Responses to Ecodriving Feedback. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Working Paper UCD-ITS-WP-12-03

Ecodriving, defined here as the adoption of energy efficient driving styles and practices (primarily moderating acceleration, top speed, increased coasting, and improved maintenance practices), has long been recognized as a potential source of reductions in transportation energy use. Estimates of energy savings attributed to ecodriving range widely, from less than 5% to as high as 20% depending on the driving and experimental context. To explore the effects on ecodriving of interaction between drivers and in-vehicle energy feedback, a customized, interactive energy feedback interface was deployed in a field test with real-world drivers. This paper presents the results of interviews with 46 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) drivers who were given the ecodriving feedback interface for a multi-week trial including an interface off (baseline) and on (treatment) condition. This paper relies specifically on self-reports of driver motivations and behaviors to better understand what types of information motivated new ecodriving behavior; a future paper will investigate quantitative fuel consumption effects. Driver interviews at the conclusion of the study revealed that the introduction of feedback led three fourths of drivers to change driving styles to maximize on-road efficiency, at least in the short term. In addition, this study finds that the context of the feedback information, provided by a built-in goal or other contextualizing information such as a comparison value, is important for both comprehension and motivation. Personalization of the information allowed different drivers to access pertinent information, increasing the motivational value of the information. Instantaneous performance feedback such as real-time energy economy or power is used primarily for experimentation and learning of new ecodriving behaviors, whereas average performance feedback is used primarily for goal-setting and goal achievement. In addition, the direct comparison of personalized driver goals and average performance created a game-like experience that encouraged high achievement. Finally, the driver interviews revealed that feedback frames driving as a time to act in an efficient manner.

Keywords: feedback; Theory of Planned Behavior; ecodriving; goals; driving behavior; driver psychology; behavioral economics