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Using a checklist, the KiM researchers analyzed the use of seduction techniques in 32 mobility apps.

Various mobility apps not only offer travel assistance, but are also equipped with seduction techniques, or ways to influence people's travel behaviour. This is done through, for example, discounts, promotions and icons. It is generally not too bad with the digital temptation via those apps. This is due to the limited effect of some seduction techniques, the limitations that exist in combining these techniques, but above all due to their modest presence in many mobility apps. 

Researchers from the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy (KiM) came to this conclusion in a study into the online influence of travel behaviour. Forms of seduction are by no means new. New in today's online world is the immense reach, speed and dynamics of apps. Also new is the possibility of far-reaching automated personalization. Seduction becomes more effective when the right incentives are linked to the right people.


Using a checklist, the KiM researchers analyzed the use of seduction techniques in 32 mobility apps. That list included techniques such as suggesting scarcity, offering discounts, and highlighting choices. The application of these techniques is very unevenly distributed across the apps studied. With some apps it's searching, with other apps temptation predominates. An example of the latter category are apps that are made explicitly for temptation, such as the Ommetje app from the Hersenstichting. This app encourages people to take a walk more often.

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Latent or pre-existing preferences

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The effect of temptation is mainly in tapping into already present preferences. Completely changing course thanks to temptation is less obvious. Messages are more likely to be perceived as disturbing and suggestions are easily ignored if there is no latent need for the app user. For example, the Ommetje app will be most successful with people who were already open to recreational walking or were already doing so, but without an app.

Not functioning properly

The incomplete or proper functioning of the app is another, often underexposed, form of influence on travel behaviour. When the underlying data, calculations or its presentation leaves something to be desired, people can receive assistance in an incorrect or incomplete way. The consequences are sometimes disastrous, especially when we blindly trust the app. A typical example in this category is 'Death by GPS', where people hopelessly lose their way or drive into the water thinking they are following the road.


The research results are accessible via a brochure and a background report with an appendix. The results are a snapshot. After all, the digital world is changing rapidly. Another KiM study will soon be published, focusing on the added value of the app for the traveler, according to KiM.

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