, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 105–119 | Cite as

Nudging for responsible carsharing: using behavioral economics to change transportation behavior

  • Michiko NamazuEmail author
  • Jiaying Zhao
  • Hadi Dowlatabadi


Principles of behavioral economics have been used to change human behavior effectively in a variety of disciplines. For the field of transportation, however, there have only been a few cases where behavioral economics was applied to change behavior in randomized field experiments. In our current study, we aimed to increase vehicle inspection behavior among carsharing users, as an example to apply behavioral principles to transportation. Specifically, we developed a simple nudge in the form of a reminder card to visually remind users to inspect the vehicle prior to their trip. The effects of the card were tested in a randomized field experiment by observing and interviewing users of a carsharing service. We found that significantly more users inspected the vehicle in the presence of the reminder card, compared to a control group where no card was used. Over 4 weeks, the improvement in inspection behavior was constant. Critically, the inspection increased even in the absence of the reminder card in the last 2 weeks of the experiment in one of the two observation sites, revealing a persistence effect of the reminder card. The current study not only demonstrates the effectiveness of a simple reminder based on the behavioral principle of salience, but also offers the potential to apply behavioral economics to the field of transportation.


Nudge Reminder Behavioral economics Carsharing Field experiment 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 3653 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Resources, Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Liu Institute for Global IssuesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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