Surveillance or self-surveillance? Behavioral cues can increase the rate of drivers’ pro-environmental behavior at a long wait stop

Rose Meleady, Dominic Abrams, Julie Van de Vyver, Tim Hopthrow, Lynsey Mahmood, Abigail Player, Ruth Lamont, Ana C. Leite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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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-minute 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1172
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number10
Early online date10 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • psychology
  • behavior change
  • driver behavior
  • self-regulation
  • watching eyes
  • pro-environmental behavior
  • surveillance
  • private self-focus
  • visual cues

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