Psychologists signal way forward to cleaner Canterbury air

Research by Kent psychologists at St Dunstan’s and St Stephen’s level crossings in Canterbury last summer shows motivating messages at the two sites cut emissions by the equivalent of taking 1,044 cars off the road for a year.

The research, which was funded by Canterbury City Council following a successful grant bid to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), assessed 6,528 vehicles arriving at the level crossings where air quality values tended to exceed national and EU recommended thresholds at various times most days.

They tested the effects of three different signs that amplified existing signs that requested drivers to switch off their engines, by asking them to ‘join other responsible drivers’, ‘to think about their actions’, or to ‘improve air quality in the area’.

Professor Dominic Abrams said: ‘This project successfully used social psychology to persuade more drivers to turn off their engines, bringing benefits for everyone in the area, including the drivers themselves.

The study was conducted by Professor Dominic Abrams, Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes; Dr Tim Hopthrow, Faculty of Social Sciences Associate Dean of Research and Innovation; Kent Psychology research students Hirotaka Imada and Hilal Özkececi; Dr Fanny Lalot, Kent Psychology Research Associate and Dr Anne Templeton, Lecturer at Edinburgh University.

Read more on the University of Kent News Centre here.