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Eye image effect in the context of pedestrian safety: a French questionnaire study

Cédric Sueur, Anthony Piermattéo and Marie Pelé

No d6w7v, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Introduction: Human behavior is therefore influenced by the presence of others, which scientists also call ‘the audience effect’. The use of social control to produce more cooperative behaviors may positively influence road use and safety. This study uses an online questionnaire to test how eyes images affect the behavior of pedestrians when crossing a road. Material and methods: Different eyes images of men, women and a child with different facial expressions -neutral, friendly and angry- were presented to participants who were asked what they would feel by looking at these images before crossing a signalized road. Participants completed a questionnaire of 20 questions about pedestrian behaviors (PBQ). The questionnaire was received by 1,447 French participants, 610 of whom answered the entire questionnaire. 71% of participants were women, and the mean age was 35±14 years. Results: Eye images give individuals the feeling they are being observed at 33%, feared at 5% and surprised at 26%, and thus seem to indicate mixed results about avoiding crossing at the red light. The expressions shown in the eyes are also an important factor: feelings of being observed increased by about 10-15% whilst feelings of being scared or inhibited increased by about 5% as the expression changed from neutral to friendly to angry. No link was found between the results of our questionnaire and those of the Pedestrian Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ). Conclusion: This study shows that the use of eye images could reduce illegal crossings by pedestrians, and is thus of key interest as a practical road safety tool. However, the effect is limited and how to increase this nudge effect needs further consideration.

Date: 2021-10-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-neu
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DOI: 10.31219/

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