Event Title

Public Good vs. Private Gain: An Experiment in Alternatively Commuting

Mentor 1

Laura Grant

Location

Union 183

Start Date

24-4-2015 10:00 AM

Description

Partnering with a company based in Southern California, we were able to study the effects of emails on workers’ willingness to alternatively commute. A group of eighty workers were randomly and evenly split amongst the four sections. In one group, we reminded workers of how they help the environment while gaining $2 a day, $1 each way they alternatively commute. Next, we reminded workers of their harm on the environment when driving alone, while losing a dollar if they do not alternatively commute, in the group named public loss. The next group, labeled private gain, was reminded of their personal benefit, through extra sleep and saving money on gas, while gaining a dollar for alternatively commuting each way. The last group of workers were reminded of missing out on sleep and spending money on gas, while losing a dollar each time they rode alone. This group was labeled private loss. For both groups where workers lost money, we gave them a gift card that started with a set amount, and would subtract from it each day they rode alone. The groups who gained a dollar were rewarded with increases to a gift card. The messages we sent were analyzed with the real data of the workers alternatively commuting. Self-interest and altruism were the main focuses in this study, with several variables affecting the data. / We also wanted to investigate how congestion data and the distance of workers affected their willingness to commute. To obtain data on their distance and other worker characteristics, a survey was given to the workers at the beginning and the end of the study, collecting their opinions and reasons for alternatively commuting and for not alternatively commuting. After the initial three months of the study, we stopped sending emails for the next four months, implementing the reward for everyone. We were able to find that the further workers lived away, the less they rode alone, making carpooling an easy option. The closest workers also alternatively commuted more, taking buses and biking. The workers in the middle of these two groups did not alternatively commute as much. During the most effective, first month of the program, we saw the private loss group to alternatively commute the most. When reminded of the money workers are not saving and the sleep they are not getting, they are most likely to act in favor of the experiment. We are currently still testing the conclusion of the four groups in the final months of the study.

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Apr 24th, 10:00 AM

Public Good vs. Private Gain: An Experiment in Alternatively Commuting

Union 183

Partnering with a company based in Southern California, we were able to study the effects of emails on workers’ willingness to alternatively commute. A group of eighty workers were randomly and evenly split amongst the four sections. In one group, we reminded workers of how they help the environment while gaining $2 a day, $1 each way they alternatively commute. Next, we reminded workers of their harm on the environment when driving alone, while losing a dollar if they do not alternatively commute, in the group named public loss. The next group, labeled private gain, was reminded of their personal benefit, through extra sleep and saving money on gas, while gaining a dollar for alternatively commuting each way. The last group of workers were reminded of missing out on sleep and spending money on gas, while losing a dollar each time they rode alone. This group was labeled private loss. For both groups where workers lost money, we gave them a gift card that started with a set amount, and would subtract from it each day they rode alone. The groups who gained a dollar were rewarded with increases to a gift card. The messages we sent were analyzed with the real data of the workers alternatively commuting. Self-interest and altruism were the main focuses in this study, with several variables affecting the data. / We also wanted to investigate how congestion data and the distance of workers affected their willingness to commute. To obtain data on their distance and other worker characteristics, a survey was given to the workers at the beginning and the end of the study, collecting their opinions and reasons for alternatively commuting and for not alternatively commuting. After the initial three months of the study, we stopped sending emails for the next four months, implementing the reward for everyone. We were able to find that the further workers lived away, the less they rode alone, making carpooling an easy option. The closest workers also alternatively commuted more, taking buses and biking. The workers in the middle of these two groups did not alternatively commute as much. During the most effective, first month of the program, we saw the private loss group to alternatively commute the most. When reminded of the money workers are not saving and the sleep they are not getting, they are most likely to act in favor of the experiment. We are currently still testing the conclusion of the four groups in the final months of the study.