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Difficulty Homeostasis

“People in conditions of monotony in a car automatically are going to want to keep themselves stimulated, to make life a little more difficult for themselves.”

From an interesting interview with Michael Regan, adjunct professor for vehicle safety at Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden and a senior research fellow on secondment from the Monash University Accident and Research Centre here in Melbourne, Australia, over at Gerry Gaffney’s User Experience podcast (transcript here).

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 at 8:34 am and is filed under Risk. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Difficulty Homeostasis”

  1. Betty Barcode Says:

    In a similar vein, I think people have price homeostasis when it comes to the cost of gas. Give them zippy little cars that get more miles to the gallon and they will just drive more, until their gas pump expenditures reach a certain discomfort threshold.

  2. Josh R Says:

    Eh, I tend to disagree with the idea of gas consumption homeostasis. Up to a point you can get more wasteful it’s true, but there are only so many extra trips you can make. Besides I mostly hear that argument made in a “And that’s why we shouldn’t bother ever trying to improve gas millage and I should just keep tooling around in my expedition.” vein, which makes me distrust it whenever it comes up.

  3. Betty Barcode Says:

    I’ve never heard my gas price homeostasis argument presented elsewhere, so I don’t know how often it is accompanied by an excuse like “…so I’ll keep tooling around in the SUV.”

    What I had in mind was not that people invent more excuses to jump behind the wheel when they have a more fuel-efficient car, but that they are far more likely to live farther from work, school, and their other daily activities

  4. Roger Frenticore Says:

    This may explain why so many people still drive under the influence despite repeated warnings of its dangers.

  5. gpsman Says:

    “… you’re cognitively distracted which means you’re still looking out at the road but you’ve got things going on inside your head, you’re sort of thinking about things and as a consequence of the internal thought may not be attentionally aware of things that are actually happening in front of you.”

    You can tell people that, but IME it rarely registers, and more rarely registers for any appreciable length of time.

  6. Calgary Dodge Says:

    It’s a pretty dangerous habit when people try to maintain the level of difficulty when driving by trying to do other things rather than focusing on the road. Well, though the driver can memorize the route, each exit, curve or bump and even though there may be something new going on outside your car window still, the driver should make safety a priority.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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