Behavioural science used to exploit cabbies?

In the backdrop of the protests by drivers employed by cab services, it was found that they are using behavioural science to push their drivers to drive for long hours.

Published: 19th June 2017 06:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th June 2017 06:54 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: In the backdrop of the protests by drivers employed by cab services, it was found that they are using behavioural science to push their drivers to drive for long hours.
Experts say that the tactics used by taxi aggregators to keep drivers on the road could lead to stress related burn-outs and even alter the driver’s brain. One car aggregators promises an incentive of `2,300 if the driver makes 50 trips in three days.

“It’s not possible to do even 10 trips a day. I have been driving for two years now and most trips I can do is eight and it takes 16 hours,” said Ragavendra, a driver who had purchased a Mahindra Verito on Equated Monthly Installments (EMI) to drive for a taxi aggregator. “When I do over 12 hours they block my payment saying it was not possible for one driver to do so and and accuse us of using another driver. We then have to send a selfie to prove our identity.”

The drivers are not employed with the ride sharing apps strictly speaking, they are “driver-partners.” The ride sharing apps boast of flexible timings and greater incentives and say no employee is forced to drive and is free to log off whenever he wishes to.

‘Methods are unethical’

However, behavioural science experts say the lure used to keep the drivers on the road is unethical as they are unregulated and becuase the drivers are unaware of the tactics being used on them.

“This is not ethical, its the age old reward centric strategies used in cognitive psychology and military sciences to enhance one’s sensitivity to rewards. This is what the taxi aggregators are doing, urging them to drive more,” said Ramesh Kumar Mishra, Head of Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, UoH.  The drivers are often not trained (on how many hours they can drive) and it should be checked if they are fatigued or are unstable. There is a need for further studies, clinical psychologists and policy makers need to sit down together to create better regulations, he added.

Ride sharing apps have increased their driver base, drivers say this has led to lesser earnings. “I make `1,000 a day driving for 16 hours. The EMI for my car is `14,000 I have two school-going children and I stay in a rented house. I haven’t been able to pay the EMI for the last three months, I need to make `4,000 a day just to hold on to my car,” Raghavendra said.

What does it entail?

It is a science that involves the analysis of human and animal behaviour through the study of the past and observation of the present besides experiments

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