Behavior and Policy: Connection in Transportation

Course Number: 

11.478

Term offered: 

Spring 2015

Course Description: 

This course examines the behavioral foundation for policy design, using urban transportation as examples. We introduce multiple frameworks of understanding travel behavior, rational or irrational, contrasting the perspectives of classic economic theory with behavioral economics and social psychology, and suggest corresponding policy interventions: a behavior--theory--policy mapping. Then we present a spectrum of ten instruments for positively influencing behavior and improving welfare: from manipulating information and changing perceptions of time and space, to pricing and framing, to inducing emotions of pride and shame, exploiting peer pressure or enhancing self control and motivation, and to nudging and preference shaping.

Most importantly the course challenges students 1) to critique, design, implement and interpret experiments that nudge travel behavior; and 2) to bring behavioral insights to creative design of transport policies, programs and plans—making them not only efficient and equitable but also simpler, consistent, transparent, acceptable, and adaptive to behavioral changes.

cluster V4: 

Social Mobility Sharing
Policy Equity, Acceptance and Compliance