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Subliminal Persuasion and Its Potential for Driver Behavior Adaptation

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1 Author(s)
Riener, A. ; Inst. for Pervasive Comput., Johannes Kepler Univ., Linz, Austria

Mental overload is a problem drivers are increasingly exposed to in today's complex task of vehicle operation and is one of the causes of traffic accidents or hazards. To keep road safety high but allow for additional information to be forwarded to the driver, we propose to employ subliminal persuasion: a technique where the information is transferred below the level of conscious awareness. Thus, the driver becomes aware of the information, but his/her cognitive load is unaltered. To analyze the potential of this approach, we have designed a case study implementing an “eco-driving” strategy operating in the background. Driving economy is thereby estimated based on vehicles' mileage gathered in real time from numerous sensors in and around the car, and information is conveyed to the driver with very light, not attentively perceivable, vibration patterns originating from tactor elements integrated into the safety belt or the car seat. The main research hypothesis followed in this paper and investigated in real driving studies is that drivers would operate their vehicles more economically on vibrotactile instructions perceived inattentively, as compared with the case without any notifications. Indeed, results indicate an improvement in driving economy for segments driven with subliminal feedback compared with routes driven without assistance but not without qualifications. Statistical significance has been proven for the safety belt interface, whereas it has not been substantiated for the tactile car seat. (However, more research is needed to validate the applicability of subliminal persuasion across a wider range of driving and in-vehicle tasks.).

Published in:

Intelligent Transportation Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 1 )